November 17th, 2020

National Organizations Release Report and Resources to Support the Social and Emotional Learning of Systematically Marginalized Students During the Pandemic and Beyond

Seven national organizations, including the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), The Education Trust, Turnaround for Children, and UnidosUS, jointly launched a new set of resources aimed at promoting the social, emotional, and academic development of systematically marginalized students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new report, Understanding Student Identity to Promote Equitable Social Emotional & Academic Development During the COVID-19 Pandemic, and three resources for parents, school leaders, and district leaders can be found at

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent events of this year, including the national spotlight on the killing of African Americans by police, have disproportionately impacted students from systematically marginalized communities, including students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities. These events have brought on economic, social, and learning challenges for students and schools must understand, affirm, and effectively support students in this current reality.

“We have learned a lot from the science of learning in recent years,” says Lindsay Jones, president & CEO, NCLD, “including how critical it is for students to feel safe, welcome, and supported in order to learn. With all of the challenges and stressors facing students and families today, it is more essential than ever that our schools center the experience of our most marginalized students and seek to understand and affirm students’ intersectional identities.” 

“Due to the significant disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic, and the stress this places on adults and our young people, it is more important than ever for districts, schools, and teachers to prioritize strategies that simultaneously help to manage stress and restore engagement in learning,” says Pamela Cantor, Founder and Senior Science Advisor, Turnaround for Children. “This can be done by focusing on the new 3 R’s: trusting relationships between adults and students, consistent routines, and resilience.”

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asian American students faced unique challenges in the classroom because of their refugee history,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue, acting executive director of SEARAC. “That’s why social emotional learning, and specifically culturally responsive SEL, is critical to ensuring that SEAA children have their comprehensive learning needs met and will thrive despite today’s exacerbated challenges.”

“A core component to supporting the social, emotional, and academic development is ensuring students can bring their authentic selves into classrooms, whether virtual or in-person, and feel a sense of belonging and connectedness,” suggests Nancy Duchesneau, P-12 Research Associate at The Education Trust. “This means the intersectional identities of students must be front and center in how we support them through this pandemic, and that we must remove systemic barriers that disproportionately send messages to students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income backgrounds, that they do not belong.”

The new report explains the connection between identity, intersectionality, and student learning, laying out key actions to promote social, emotional, and academic development during this time.  Also included are guides designed specifically for parents, school leaders and district leaders, clarifying their unique roles and steps they can take. 



The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) improves the lives of all people with learning disabilities and attention issues by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact. Learn more at

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the nonprofit that founded the field of social and emotional learning (SEL). Today, CASEL collaborates with leading experts, districts, schools, and states nationwide to drive research, guide practice, and inform policy to enhance the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students.

The Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) is a nonprofit organization of attorneys, advocates, parents and related professionals who work to protect the legal and civil rights of and secure excellence in education on behalf of tens of thousands of students with disabilities and their families each year at the national, state and local level. COPAA is committed to increasing the quality and quantity of special education advocates and attorneys, and creating a level playing field to ensure children with disabilities receive the high-quality education to which all children are entitled.

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. P&As and CAPs work to improve the lives of people with disabilities by guarding against abuse; advocating for basic rights; and ensuring access and accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, voting, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity.

The Education Trust is a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. Through our research and advocacy, Ed Trust supports efforts that expand excellence and equity in education from preschool through college, increase college access and completion particularly for historically underserved students, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to act on equity issues.

Turnaround for Children is a nonprofit organization, founded in 2002 by child and adolescent psychiatrist Pamela Cantor, M.D., that translates insights from the science of learning and development into professional learning and tools for educators, empowering and equipping them to adopt a whole-child vision that is attuned and responsive to each student and able to ignite their curiosity and learning. Turnaround’s approach calls for a mindset shift that deeply integrates an understanding of stress, trauma and the essentials for learning, that is grounded in equity, by building environments that are rich in  developmental relationships and opportunities for student academic growth.

UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza)- is the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations, UnidosUS reaches millions of Latinos each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. UnidosUS is driven by the mission to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. Learn more at


Meghan Whittaker, Director of Policy & Advocacy, NCLD

Jack Lewis, Marketing and Communications Specialist, CASEL

Denise Marshall, CEO, COPAA

David Card, Communication Manager, NDRN

Elaine Sanchez Wilson, Director of Communications and Development, SEARAC

Nicolle Grayson, Director of Communications, The Education Trust

Jeremy Koren, Director, Marketing and Communications, Turnaround for Children

Gabriela Gomez, Education Communications Specialist, UnidosUS

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