Menninger announced September 10 that for the third consecutive year it is funding social and emotional learning programs in Houston-area schools to enhance the health, well-being and academic success of vulnerable middle and high school students.
With a $960,000 total investment for the 2018-19 academic year, BridgeUp at Menninger is supporting nine local organizations that are implementing innovative social and emotional learning programs that will impact nearly 8,000 students. BridgeUp at Menninger is funded by a $8.9 million grant from the David and Helen Gurley Brown Trust.
The BridgeUp at Menninger programs are:
“With seven returning grantees, we’re confident that BridgeUp at Menninger will continue to progress in its goal of creating systemic change that improves the overall well-being of our students and creates a better learning environment in our schools,” said Patricia Gail Bray, PhD, director of BridgeUp at Menninger. “Since the launch of BridgeUp, grantees have reported benefits such as reductions in student behavioral infractions and improvements in their school’s social environment.”
The core curriculum for all of the BridgeUp at Menninger programs is the evidence-based Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework, but each grantee identifies and tailors the program delivery method for its student population. The delivery methods range from performance art and visual art to peer mentoring and workshop-style lessons. By integrating the CASEL framework into their innovative programming, the grantees are enhancing students’ social and emotional competencies and classroom behavior; improving attachment and attitudes toward school; decreasing rates of violence, aggression, disciplinary referrals and substance abuse; and improving academic performance.
The BridgeUp at Menninger model also requires that grantees implement a multi-tiered system of interventions that connects students with appropriate mental health supports such as screenings, counseling, peer-support groups, outpatient therapy or intensive psychiatric treatment. The grantees have the option to refer their students to Menninger for assessment and treatment.
A third component of the BridgeUp at Menninger model is participation in an impact network that is facilitated by the All Kids Alliance to foster collaboration and short-cycle continuous improvement. Through this network, which meets four times throughout the school year, grantees have the opportunity to learn best practices from each other, discuss challenges and adjust their programming during the school-year.
“This collaboration is a critical component to ensuring that BridgeUp at Menninger produces measurable outcomes and becomes a sustainable, scalable and replicable model that school districts, nonprofits and community health organizations from across the country can eventually implement to address the social and emotional needs of their students,” added Bray.
The need for more social and emotional learning in Texas and beyond is apparent when analyzing the CDC’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In this report, 34 percent of high school students in Texas and 31.5 percent across the U.S. say that they have felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more consecutive weeks. In this same survey, 17.6 percent of high school students in Texas and 17.2 percent in the U.S. said that they have seriously considered attempting suicide within the previous year.
“Feelings of sadness or hopelessness often develop because students are challenged by economic, health or family hardships. That’s why BridgeUp programs focus on teaching resiliency and coping skills,” said Bray. “We’re teaching these skills and other important emotion management competencies through BridgeUp, consistent with Menninger’s commitment to leadership in mental health awareness, prevention and early intervention.”