Oprah's Foundation Grants $1 Million to Teach for America to Address Social-Emotional Needs of Teachers and Students

Leah Frazier

Teach For America announced a $1,000,000 grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF) to support the organization’s social-emotional learning (SEL) program. This gift will allow Teach For America (TFA) to further expand its existing SEL program, ensuring that teachers, students, and staff have the support, trainings, and tools needed to sustain their wellness and wellbeing.

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Teach for America teacher embraces the virtual learning environment with her students.Used Courtesy of: Teach for America

With the support of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, Teach For America will expand its existing SEL program to ensure that its more than 4,700 first and second-year teachers can recognize and address the connection between social-emotional learning and academics and build the skills and mindsets necessary to foster SEL learning for their students and themselves. Through training, coaching, and ongoing professional development, TFA’s educators learn to embed SEL into content instruction, model SEL competencies in their teaching, and help students practice and apply their SEL skills and mindsets. All of this work is approached with a racial equity and trauma-informed lens.

“Oprah Winfrey shares our unwavering belief that all children should have the opportunity to learn, lead, and thrive, and that teachers should have the support and resources to help them,” shared Elisa Villanueva Beard, Chief Executive Officer of Teach For America. “With rates of trauma rising to crisis levels as a result of the pandemic, the deep connection between students’ academic growth and social emotional development has never been more important. By supporting educators to foster social-emotional learning for their students and for themselves, we create safe and inclusive learning environments and help build stronger communities.”
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Teach for America students celebrate virtual learning.Used Courtesy of: Teach for America

As teachers continue to navigate the unprecedented disruption to learning and the emotional trauma caused by the pandemic, they are highlighting an urgent need to address the social-emotional needs of students. Research has shown the effects of fostering studentsʼ social-emotional learning in the classroom, including positive long-term impacts on studentsʼ academic achievement, behavior, and well-being. Social-emotional learning also positively impacts teachers, their wellbeing, and their sense of self-efficacy in the classroom. While Teach For America’s SEL program predates the pandemic, this work has become even more essential in light of the rising rates of anxiety, depression, and burnout that have impacted both students and educators. 

“I wanted to give my own support to the uplifting work being done across the country by these dedicated and dynamic educators,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Teach For America’s vision of educational equity depends on the holistic wellbeing of teachers and their ability to sustain their resilience and leadership. In addition to providing SEL training, TFA has partnered with external providers to offer mental health support and resources at no cost to educators and plans to further expand this offering with the support of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation.

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Leah Frazier is a two-time Emmy award-winning content creator and journalist that has covered local news, entertainment, business, fashion and lifestyle on both the local and national levels for over 10 years. She's the CEO of Think Three Media -- an ADDY award-winning marketing and communications agency that provides creative and innovative solutions for cutting edge brands. Her podcast, PR Yourself with Leah Frazier is a top 100 podcast in the business category and adored all over the world. In addition to being a multi-hyphenate creative, she's passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, women's rights, fashion and more!

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