Preparing Youth to Thrive

Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social & Emotional Learning

Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social and Emotional Learning outlines a set of important skills and best practices for social and emotional learning (SEL). The framework emerged from the SEL Challenge, a partnership between the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality), Susan Crown Exchange (SCE), eight out-of-school time (OST) organizations, and a team of technical consultants to identify a set of promising practices for building SEL skills among vulnerable adolescents in OST settings. The Weikart Center is a Forum for Youth Investment research center focused on improving the quality of services available from expanded learning systems and settings, and SCE is a national foundation dedicated to shaping an ecosystem of anytime, anywhere learning that prepares youth with the 21st century skills to thrive in a highly connected and rapidly changing world. The framework focuses on six domains of SEL practice and skill, and unlike most other frameworks, frames those domains around the youth experiences and adult practices that facilitate skill development in those areas as opposed to describing individual youth skills or outcomes.

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Preparing Youth to Thriveemotion managementempathyteamworkresponsibilityinitiativeproblem solving

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • Stresses the importance of youth input and agency, strong adult-youth relationships, community engagement, and safe spaces in which youth feel comfortable expressing diverse identities
  • Recognizes that the salience and sequence of standards is relative and should be locally determined based on youth needs and resource availability

Developmental Perspective

  • Provides brief description of how each domain is salient to children and adolescents
  • Recognizes that youth skills are learned and build on each other in sequence and provides guidance on how to sequence program/project and SEL content in order to foster skill growth, but no learning progression is provided for the specific experiences and skills in the framework

Associated Outcomes

  • Cites evidence linking general SEL skills and SEL programming to positive outcomes such as academic performance and employability, attitudes about self and others, prosocial behavior, resiliency, sense of agency and mental health
  • Summarizes evidence linking various framework domains to positive outcomes related to behavior, relationships, academic performance, mental health, employment, health and general wellbeing, and more

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • Online resource library compiles toolkits, research reports, blog articles, videos, and other resources to support the effective implementation, monitoring, and assessment of SEL programming in OST settings from across the field
  • Provides crosswalks of six domains with other prominent frameworks in the field (CASEL and UChicago Consortium Foundations for Young Adult Success)
  • Includes list of other terms used to describe each domain across the field

Programs & Strategies

  • Framework is designed to outline standards for SEL practice (youth experiences and staff practices) across each of the six domains and provides detailed descriptions of each standard, including specific examples of practices used in exemplary OST programs that align with the standards
  • Identifies and describes five curriculum features (project content sequence, SEL content sequence, safe space, responsive practices, supports for staff) shown to be foundational for supporting SEL practices across the six domains
  • Provides eight case narratives that showcase the successes and challenges OST programs have experienced when integrating SEL into their programming

Measurement Tools

  • Developed the SEL Program Quality Assessment (PQA), an observation tool used to measure the quality of staff SEL practices across each of the six domains
  • Standards are intended to inform and support quality improvement systems (QIS) for OST programs that build SEL skills and framework materials provide general information and guidance around QIS in the OST field
  • Offers self-assessment tools to assess SEL curriculum design, staff SEL practices, and youth SEL skills

Key Publications

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