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This ECS Issue Brief provides an overview and description of both social and emotional learning (SEL) and service-learning (S-L) as tools to improve the lives and academic performance of students. It describes how the two practices are interrelated and the research evidence that supports the expanded use of both practices in the classroom. Also provided are descriptions of the essential elements required of successful SEL and S-L programs, examples of such successful programs that are in existence today, and a discussion of state activities and experiences. Lastly, the brief discusses a series of likely challenges that education leaders implementing SEL and S-L programs could face. The brief offers recommendations and advice for addressing such challenges and provides lists of available resources where more information can be found.

The brief represents the first step of a new partnership of three prominent national organizations – the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC), and the Laboratory for Student Success (LSS). This new partnership was formed to assist education leaders in integrating social and emotional learning and service-learning programs and policies into their states, districts and schools. The following brief is intended to be the first in a series of papers exploring aspects of both SEL and S-L. More information on this new partnership is available on the following Web sites (, and