CASEL was formed in 1994 with the goal of establishing high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) as an essential part of preschool through high school education. From the beginning, CASEL was comprised of a distinguished national leadership team that identified key issues to advance the science and practice of SEL.

Both CASEL and the term “social and emotional learning” emerged from a meeting in 1994 hosted by the Fetzer Institute. Meeting attendees included researchers, educators, and child advocates involved in various education-based efforts to promote positive development in children. These SEL pioneers came together to address a concern about ineffective school programming and a lack of coordination among programs at the school level.

Schools were being inundated with a slew of positive youth development programs such as drug prevention, violence prevention, sex education, civic education, and moral education, to name a few. SEL was introduced as a framework that addresses the needs of young people and helps to align and coordinate school programs and programming.

In 1997 CASEL and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) partnered on Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators. This groundbreaking book provided practical strategies for educators to create comprehensive and coordinated SEL programming from preschool through grade 12. This was the first book of its kind, and it laid the foundation for the country to begin addressing the “missing piece” in education.

For the next two decades, critical research and initiatives—both from CASEL and our collaborators—have advanced our evidence base, provided guidance to educators, and grown the community of scientists and educators committed to this important work. For CASEL, this has included setting standards for evidence-based programs from preschool through high school, understanding and advancing implementation in districts and schools, and conducting research linking SEL to academic achievement and other positive outcomes for students.

Today CASEL continues to collaborate toward advancing science, practice, and policy related to social and emotional learning. The release of the 2015 Handbook of Social and Emotional Learning: Research and Practice demonstrates just how much the field has grown, with nearly 100 contributors covering all aspects of social and emotional learning.

CASEL has been a leader, a catalyst, and a collaborator serving the field of social and emotional learning. The field is growing its impact worldwide. It’s time to turn momentum for SEL into a movement so that all students across the country can benefit from social and emotional learning. Join us in helping to make SEL an integral part of education for all students, preschool through high school.

How CASEL and the field have grown. Learn more.

Meet those who helped launch the field. Learn more.

Past Events
How we have used learning forums and cross-districts events — featuring leaders from research, practice, and policy — to continue learning from each other and expand SEL’s impact. Learn more.