Jason Naum, LAB Board Chair

We have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Philadelphia youth. 

Our public and charter schools are struggling to prepare children for this changing and complex world. The most recent School Progress Report (conducted by the District Performance Office), which measured schools on achievement, progress and climate, found that 80% of our schools fall into the lowest performance tiers. To further complicate matters, Philadelphia has the highest child poverty among large US cities, with nearly 85% of the children in the District coming from economically disadvantaged communities. Recent reports show that at least 50% of students in Philadelphia schools have experienced some form of trauma.

The prolonged effect of living in communities with high violent crime rates and chronic poverty has taken its toll on the city’s most vulnerable, underserved youth. The effects of trauma and loss, often present in the classroom, have greatly inhibited the ability of these children to succeed not only academically but also in forming and managing relationships, dealing with conflict, and making decisions. Many simply do not have the social and emotional competence needed to navigate their dynamic and changing surroundings.

Programs specifically designed to increase social emotional competence have proven results. Children participating in quality SEL programs improve achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, exhibit more prosocial behaviors (such as empathy, sharing, and kindness), have less anxiety and stress, and improved attitudes about others and themselves. They also have a high social return on investment, roughly $11 benefit for every $1 spent. What remains an issue, and requires a timely solution, is how we find ways to include SEL programing in an already crowded curriculum.

LAB programs aim to address this problem. We realize that most schools are struggling to meet new and changing academic standards set by the State and find it increasingly challenging to free up “space” and/or resources during regular school hours to introduce targeted SEL lessons. Schools recognize the importance of SEL and are eager to cooperate, they are just not able to do it on their own.

LAB’s innovative programming acknowledges the advantages of both classroom and sports based strategies to build social emotional competence and combines them both. With your help, LAB, with its unique four pillar curriculum and innovative approach, can have an incredible impact on the lives of participating students and be a model to other schools and programs. Please consider making a difference and supporting LAB.