LANSING, Mich. — At a time when children’s mental health is paramount, schools now have an opportunity to utilize expanded online services and functionality building upon a free statewide social-emotional learning (SEL) program launched earlier this year. The new grant is made possible by Evolution Labs in partnership with Michigan Virtual.
Using Federal GEERS dollars, the Whitmer Administration funded Michigan Cares earlier this year to offer educators and Michigan families — children, teachers, and parents alike — free digital lessons focused on developing social, emotional, and mental wellbeing skills, which have become especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. While the lessons have been available for free since April, this new grant program is made possible through additional resources from Evolution Labs in partnership with Michigan Virtual to ensure greater functionality so school administrators can add local student rostering to assign, monitor and track the use of these free lessons.
Michigan schools are required to deliver social and emotional learning to students, a skillset which has become especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant program is designed to help schools deploy a local social and emotional learning program remotely to their students by using an effective, quality, turnkey systems approach for students, teachers, and parents.
The COVID-19 pandemic has an emotional impact on everyone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fear and anxiety that many are feeling, children included. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while a child’s reaction to a crisis may vary widely depending on their individual experience, children and adolescents are especially emotionally vulnerable to their experiences during a disaster.
Michigan Cares, designed by Evolution Labs, is a research and evidence-based social and emotional learning program offered by Michigan Virtual. The student program consists of thousands of educational videos, articles, activities, surveys, heuristics reflections, and lessons on topics critical to students’ mental health, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. The student curriculum is accompanied by companion programs for parents, educators and administrators — including the ability to assign, track and monitor courses so that educators can best support students. Much of the content is aligned with the National Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) standards, and mapped to the grade-specific learning objectives published by various federal and state education boards.
A webinar to introduce the grant program and to demonstrate the Michigan Cares dashboard will be held on Thursday, December 17 at 11 am. To register and to apply for the grant, schools should visit MichiganVirtual.org/SEL-Grants. Award decisions are being made on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis. For more information about Michigan Cares, visit MichiganVirtual.org/MichiganCares.