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A Nation at Hope Supports Holistic Approach to Education

CONNECTICUT –  As a founding member of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (the “SEAD Commission”), the Dalio Foundation proudly endorses the newly released report, “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope,” and accompanying recommendations for research, policy, and practice on how to best educate children and honor creative teaching.  “A Nation at Hope” synthesizes decades of research and incorporates input from students, families, educators, and community leaders from across the country.  The findings affirm that social, emotional, and cognitive development are intertwined and essential to children’s academic learning and success.  The report, which exemplifies the value of listening to and learning from students, families, educators, and community leaders, is a call to action to improve educational outcomes for all students through a holistic approach.

The Dalio Foundation has actively participated in the SEAD Commission since 2016 and has supported its work with $500,000 in total grant funding.  “We’re very hopeful about what the SEAD Commission heard from communities across the country, and what science tells us about how children learn.  Teachers tell us how important social and emotional learning is for the development of the whole child,” said Barbara Dalio, Co-Founder and Director of the Dalio Foundation.  “It would be so exciting for Connecticut to lead the nation in social and emotional learning, and academic development.”

On Wednesday, January 16th, Norwalk Public Schools, together with the Dalio Foundation, will host a school tour and roundtable discussion at Tracey Elementary School to raise awareness of the SEAD Commission’s report and celebrate Norwalk’s efforts to advance student learning and development through a whole-child approach.  The roundtable will feature Norwalk educational leaders, teachers, parents, and students.  SEAD Commission members Dr. Marc Brackett, Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and Dr. James Comer, who launched the movement to educate the whole child 50 years ago at the Yale Child Study Center, will also join Barbara Dalio for the tour and roundtable discussion.

As a community, Norwalk is working hard to create a cohesive K–12 ecosystem that provides holistic support to all children.  Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk ACTS are building productive partnerships between schools, community non-profits, faith-based institutions, and foundations to advance this vision and support healthy learning and development in and out of school.  If successful, Norwalk’s collaborative efforts to support students’ social, emotional, and cognitive development will lead to improved attendance, grades, test scores, graduation rates, and success in college and careers, as well as to more engaged citizenship and enhanced overall wellbeing.  

Norwalk is the city where Barbara Dalio’s passion for public education developed while volunteering at a local alternative high school.  She believes in supporting young people through a holistic approach that attends to social and emotional development and physical and mental wellness in addition to academic learning.  Her philosophy has been shaped through years spent engaging directly with educators, community leaders, and young people, listening to and learning from their perspectives and ideas to inform her philanthropy. 

“I respect and appreciate Barbara’s dedication to prioritizing the voices of teachers and students in her work,” said Mary Yordon, President of the Norwalk Federation of Teachers.  “Barbara spends her time listening to teachers about their work to educate children and finds creative and meaningful ways to support them.  She has been – and continues to be – a wonderful partner to Norwalk Public Schools and its students and families.”

Since 2012, the Dalio Foundation has donated more than $7.6 million to Norwalk’s public education system, including the Norwalk Public Schools, the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, and the Carver Foundation of Norwalk, which runs after-school programs for children.  In addition, since 2015, the Dalio Foundation has supported more than 50 educators in pursuing summer professional learning opportunities aligned to their passions.  The Dalio Foundation has also donated more than 2,500 winter coats to Norwalk’s children in need, as part of 20,000 winter coats distributed statewide over the last three years.

“The Dalio Foundation is deeply committed to seeing all of Norwalk’s young people thrive,” said Dr. Steven J. Adamowski, Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools.  “The SEAD Commission’s report is a strong affirmation of the Dalio Foundation’s holistic and collaborative approach to strengthening public education.”

About the Dalio Foundation 

The Dalio Foundation is a Connecticut-based family foundation created by Ray and Barbara Dalio.  The Foundation’s giving reflects the diverse philanthropic passions of the Dalio family.  Barbara Dalio leads the Foundation’s work to strengthen public education in Connecticut through collaboration.  She is passionate about engaging with educators, community leaders, and young people to achieve positive outcomes and greater equity across the state.  The Foundation’s education portfolio reflects her holistic approach, which includes championing public school educators and communities and empowering high school-aged youth to realize their potential.  To learn more, visit:

About the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

The SEAD Commission was created to engage and energize communities in re-envisioning learning to support the whole child so that all students can thrive in school, career, and life.  The Commission’s members include leaders from education, research, policy, business, and the military; and the Commission includes Councils of Distinguished Scientists and Educators, a Youth Commission, a Parent Advisory Panel, and Partners and Funders Collaboratives.  The Commission is housed at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas that leads to meaningful action.  To learn more, visit:

Media Contact:

Duby McDowell