Our Legacy, Our Future

For 40 years, Committee for Children has been helping children learn, grow, and thrive by teaching them how to understand emotions, build meaningful relationships, and resolve conflicts. Because we believe that if you make a positive impact on enough children through social-emotional learning, then the ripples will help a family, a school, a community, and ultimately, the world. We call it the Empathy Effect, and it’s what we’ve worked toward since 1979. And we’re just getting started—this year, we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary by setting an ambitious goal for the future: to positively transform the social-emotional well-being of 100 million children annually by 2028. But we can’t do it alone. Become an advocate. Lend your voice. And let’s grow kinder together.

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100 Million Children
100 Million Children


The Empathy Effect Begins

Our story begins with cultural anthropologists Dr. Jennifer James and Dr. Debra Boyer, whose work showed that sexual abuse in childhood often led to sex trafficking in adulthood. Unable to stand idly by at this injustice, we created the Talking About Touching program, which empowered kids to recognize, resist, and report sexual victimization.


Committee for Children is formed to help victims of child sexual abuse


A Grassroots Effort

In the early eighties, our organization consisted of a few employees and high-profile community volunteers who spearheaded grassroots efforts to secure funding and build our mission. This small group of social workers and educators worked largely on a local level, but that all changed when Nashville Public Schools requested our Talking About Touching program. Within a year, we were launched into the national spotlight, and soon we released our flagship curriculum, Second Step.


Our Talking About Touching program is released


Our mission gains national attention with an appearance on the Today Show


The organization begins exploring primary abuse prevention and develops the first edition of Second Step


A Surge of Interest

Marked by a sizable increase in international awareness, federal education policy, and access to funding, the nineties brought many opportunities to expand our mission. As knowledge of social-emotional learning (SEL) grew, so did our reach. By the end of the decade, our programs reached schools in all 50 states, including large school districts like LA Unified, as well as schools in Canada, Norway, and Germany.


Interest in SEL rises in response to Daniel Goleman’s newly published book, Emotional Intelligence


We launch research into bullying prevention in response to school violence


The White House names our Second Step curriculum a Model Program in the Annual Report of School Safety


Growing Our Mission

Throughout the 2000s, our team and mission continued to thrive as our classroom reach expanded. Dedicated to evolving our program to reach even more students, we revised it to include convenient online training that helps educators pick up the program and teach easily. We continued to improve the educator experience with the creation of our outreach team, which provides deeper communication and implementation support directly to educators.


The US Department of Education names our curriculum a Safe & Drug Free Schools Exemplary Program


We respond to a need for bullying prevention in schools with the launch of the Steps to Respect program


CASEL awards high marks to our Second Step curriculum


Back to Our Roots

In recent years, we’ve returned to our roots with a renewed focus on our policy and advocacy efforts and an increased push for innovation. We continue to fulfill educators’ needs by creating implementation support tools and expanding to new content areas, while constantly rethinking and improving our existing programs. As we move toward the next decade, we continue to widen our reach—looking into opportunities to provide content for out-of-school time, older students, and adults.


The Second Step SEL Program is revised to set the groundwork for a group of programs that can be taught together: the Second Step Suite


With the foundation to bullying prevention—social-emotional learning—in place, we create an add-on unit: the Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit


The Second Step Child Protection Unit is added to the Second Step Suite


The new Second Step Middle School Program launches—bringing technology and the latest research together to engage students


The Empathy Effect

Today we’re known as thought leaders in SEL, connecting experts to advance the field. A force in advocacy, we’re helping pass policies and legislation that improve the emotional well-being of children. Our programs—which include child protection and bullying prevention resources—are in 30 percent of US elementary schools and 70 countries worldwide. But we’re just getting started.


We announce our goal to positively transform the social-emotional well-being of 100 million children by 2028


We launch a first-of-its-kind podcast called Grow Kinder, featuring SEL-centric conversations with thought leaders in education, business, tech, and the arts who have one thing in common: a dedication to growing kinder and helping others do the same