Funding Social-Emotional Learning at the State Level

Findings and Recommendations to Create Stable, Robust, and Diverse Funding Streams for SEL

Social-emotional learning (SEL) isn’t well supported at the state level. Currently most people point to federal dollars as a way to fund SEL, even though federal funding contributes the least amount to public education budgets. We examined state-level funding streams for SEL in six states chosen based on regional diversity and input from Committee for Children staff: California, Kansas, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, and Texas. We found that when states fund SEL, they do so through nonrecurring grants, detached from categoricals (state-level grants in specific categories) or state funding formulas, and that the grants tend to be given in broad categories with many possible subcategories that can compete with SEL. This effectively deprioritizes state-level SEL funding. We recommend that states move toward incorporating SEL into core educational funding so it can be paid for from more standard, consistent, and reliable funding streams, and also that they narrow the scope of school climate and safety grants so SEL is one of fewer options to choose from and is therefore prioritized. Download the Policy Brief (PDF)