January 31, 2022

U.S. Department of Education Awards $4 Million Education Innovation Research (EIR) Grant to Scale Student Well-being Model

Project will expand and study model developed by DC Public Schools’ Van Ness Elementary in partnership with Transcend

January 31, 2022 — The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded a $4M EIR grant to scale and study the powerful student well-being model developed over the past five years by  Van Ness Elementary School as part of DC Public School’s (DCPS’s) commitment to educating the whole child. This initiative is one of 18 early phase grants funded by the EIR program to expand efforts to improve academic achievement for underserved students. 

This grant supports the scale of this powerful student well-being model over a five year period. The work will encompass 20 elementary schools in partnership with DCPS and Aldine ISD, located in greater Houston, reaching approximately 11,000 students from underserved schools in both districts. 

The EIR grant award recipients were selected through a rigorous process seeking innovative models to address the impact of school closures and lost instructional time due to COVID-19. Scaling the student well-being model will specifically support improving high-need students’ learning through a community-driven model that builds social and emotional skills. 

In a release shared by the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Miguel Cordona shared, “Especially as students, educators, and school communities continue to heal and recover from the pandemic, we must invest in programs that are innovative and backed by evidence of what works to ensure that our education system can fully and effectively address the academic and social-emotional needs of our children. I look forward to seeing how Education Innovation and Research Grants help take promising practices to scale.”

“The science of learning and development makes clear that student well-being has a profound impact on academics, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased our collective urgency and focus,” shares deputy chief of learning and development sciences at DCPS, Michael Lamb. “As part of DCPS’s commitment to becoming a whole child-centered, anti-racist school system, expanding this promising student well-being model offers important insights that we can learn from and scale not only here in the district, but nationwide. We welcome this opportunity to expand our deep partnership with Transcend and apply the science of learning and development by centering the whole child in our work toward equity and excellence.”

“A focus on student well-being is imperative to our work toward equity,” shares Dr. Lorenzo Moore, Aldine ISD’s director of social emotional learning and culture. “At an organizational level, we want to have systems in place that are designed for our students to attain excellence in both their academic and social lives. We are eager to expand our efforts in this area through our partnership with Transcend and by learning from the work at Van Ness Elementary School.” 

As part of the EIR grant, Transcend and the districts will collaborate with the Stanford Research Institute International (SRI) as a research partner to test the impact of the student well-being model on key teacher, student, and school outcomes. 

“Our ongoing partnership with DCPS and Van Ness Elementary School has been transformative,” shares Transcend co-founder Jeff Wetzler. “The model developed by our colleagues at Van Ness under the leadership of principal Cynthia Robinson-Rivers focuses not only on student well-being but also has proven results around academic outcomes in a learning environment where students feel safe and loved. There has never been a time where this mattered more and we are appreciative of this federal award to reach more and more children.” 

About Transcend

Transcend is a national nonprofit that supports school communities to create and spread extraordinary, equitable learning environments. The organization was founded on a belief that we must reimagine schooling, using a community-driven approach, so all children can realize their infinite potential. Transcend pursues its mission by partnering directly with schools on design journeys while also sharing powerful models, tools and insights across the sector. To date, Transcend has worked directly with hundreds of schools and leaders in over 30 states, and has influenced thousands more. Ultimately, Transcend strives to fuel significant leaps in education so all young people can thrive in and transform the world.

For more information, visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.