Social Emotional Development

Social Emotional Ecosystem diagram

Social Emotional Development is one of CEI’s six design commitments. Embracing an expanded definition of student success requires schools to not only name social emotional outcomes as integral to academic outcomes, but to implement practices to develop them for all students.

We are committed to supporting schools and districts to create an ecosystem approach to SED, including: 1) learning environments that are psychologically and identity safe, relationship rich, and build SED skills; 2) multi-tiered systems of supports for struggling students and staff; 3) common, visible, and diverse student voice and student-adult partnerships; and 4) engagement of diverse families in the school’s SED vision.

To improve mental health, well-being, and resiliency for adolescents in Colorado, CEI partners with districts and schools to strengthen the ability of educators and schools to provide a culture and climate that meets students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.

Youth Connections

CEI has partnered with Caring for Colorado to facilitate Youth Connections, a project designed to support public middle and high schools in fostering a culture and climate that meets students’ social, emotional and academic needs. A primary focus of this work is equipping school staff to identify and respond to youth who experience the greatest barriers to feeling connected, supported, and engaged. 

Thriving Schools/RISE Initiative

Thriving Schools Resilience in School Environments (RISE) is a Kaiser Permanente initiative supporting five Colorado school districts and participating elementary, middle, and high schools within each. The Thriving Schools Initiative is a national effort dedicated to improving the health of students, staff, and teachers in K-12 schools, with a particular focus on social-emotional wellness and behavioral health supports.

  • The Thriving Schools RISE Initiative is anchored in four main outcomes:
  • Increase job satisfaction among teachers and staff;
  • Improve connectedness, engagement, and relationships within the school community;
  • Increase skills related to social and emotional learning; and
  • Increase mental health supports.
Social Emotional Spotlight:
St. Vrain Valley School District
Social Emotional Redesign Network

CEI is actively engaged with a cohort of high schools in Colorado to strengthen the ability of educators and schools to advance practices in support of students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. With support from The Colorado Health Foundation, schools participating in SERN have engaged in networking and shared learning; built empathy with students, family, and community members; acquired deep SED content and best practices; and have created implementation plans customized for their unique contexts. 

SERN schools have reported better adult-adult and student-adult relationships, increased their capacity around continuous improvement practices, implemented innovative approaches to engage families, and reported shifts in how teachers see their roles – from deliverers of content to developers of people.


Nod Mobile App for High School Students

Through grant support from The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, CEI and Grit Digital Health are engaging Colorado high school students, parents, and school staff partners to help adapt the existing Nod for College mobile app and develop new content that meets the unique needs of high school students, with a specific focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ teens. The app is designed to reduce the impact of loneliness on young people’s well-being by empowering students to build strong social connections as part of a successful school experience regardless of learning environment.

Nod has been launched on a pilot basis for the 2021-22 school year in select high schools. The pilot’s goal is to impact up to 30,000 students with an emphasis on those from historically marginalized groups.