Our Work » EDUCATION
United Way Youth Empowerment Alliance
School Culture and Climate Initiative
To succeed in school now and in the workplace later, our youth needs to be equipped with social and emotional skills. Not unlike algebra and geography, these skills have to be learned and schools need the tools to teach them in a positive setting – often referred to as culture and climate.
A positive school culture and climate provides the foundation for learning and prepares youth to navigate life’s challenges. When students are learning in a positive environment, they do their best work and shine. They are happy to be there, feel safe, and are connected to one another and the wider community.
Building a Positive School Climate
The School Culture and Climate Initiative, a partnership of United Way Youth Empowerment Alliance and the College of Saint Elizabeth Center for Human and Social Development, provides the resources for schools to improve their culture and climate in a systemic, intentional, and sustainable way. Our unique approach was named a 2014 Promising Practice by Character.org.
When schools join the Initiative, they embark on a three-year process tailored to their needs. We help them better understand and strengthen their current culture and climate. Through a variety of exercises and school-wide assessments, we support schools as they develop and implement improvement plans. The result is a school community where children can thrive emotionally, socially, physically, and academically.
Why Culture and Climate Is So Important
Research shows that a school with a positive culture and climate – and a focus on social and emotional learning – is linked to student gains and reduced risks. It is critical that this work is intentional, comprehensive, and continuous.
The impact reaches far beyond school years. By developing social and emotional skills now, youth will also have many of the skills needed to be employable, successful adults. Improved prospects for our kids to obtain and maintain higher paying jobs is one of United Way of Northern New Jersey’s long-term strategies to reduce the number of ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families in our region.
PDF School Culture and Climate Initiative Overview