Partner Profile: Pomona Unified School District

Originally published by Globe Newswire. Read the full story here >

Expansion is First District-Wide Adoption of Social Emotional Learning Afterschool Model in State; Component of Award-Winning District Afterschool Program

Pomona, Calif., Aug. 01, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) announced today the expansion of its partnership with WINGS for Kids, an education nonprofit focused on social emotional learning (SEL) in the afterschool space, which will bring WINGS’ proven, research-based SEL curriculum to after-school programming throughout the district during the 2017-18 school year. It is the first district-wide adoption of an SEL afterschool model in California.

WINGS first partnered with PUSD’s existing afterschool program, The Learning Connection (TLC), in August 2016 as part of a pilot designed to empower and share SEL-focused strategies with TLC staff in four schools. Through this model, afterschool professionals learn how to develop their own social-emotional skills and how to create a culture of SEL by integrating WINGS’ explicit and implicit curriculum that teaches students how to cultivate positive relationships, make good decisions, and manage their emotions. With this year’s expansion, WINGS will bring this model to TLC schools across the district.

Students in the TLC program shouting “I soar with WINGS. Let me tell you why.”

“PUSD and TLC are thrilled to grow our partnership with WINGS for Kids to bring social emotional learning to more kids in Pomona,” said Richard Martinez, superintendent of PUSD. “By continuing our collaboration, we are able to utilize WINGS’ expertise and build upon the strengths of our staff and our high-quality afterschool programming to help our students develop critical skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”

This year, PUSD was named a District of Distinction by District Administration magazine because of The Learning Connection’s innovative model and program, including its SEL components resulting from the WINGS partnership. TLC offers student-centered, multi-disciplinary enrichment activities in a daily afterschool format that serves as a seamless extension of the school day. Students participate in activities that meet the needs of the whole child, from computer coding and theatre production sessions to science and visual arts classes to homework support and tutoring.

While WINGS and its social-emotional skill-building happens after the school day ends, there is a deep connection between what WINGS kids learn during the program and how it influences their behavior in the classroom. WINGS’ forthcoming randomized control trial (RCT) study and other research show that WINGS kids have better behavior, are more likely to exhibit empathy, and have stronger self-management skills than non-WINGS kids in the same classrooms.

These social-emotional competencies are especially critical for the vulnerable children that WINGS serves, many of whom live in low-income neighborhoods and face significant challenges in their home lives. By creating a strong SEL culture, teaching kids how to make good decisions, and providing caring support and guidance, WINGS and trained TLC staff can help kids build their inner strength and better cope with trauma. Data from WINGS’ programs in Charleston, S.C., also shows notable positive impact on students’ chronic absenteeism and discipline referrals—two key issues that prevent young people from succeeding in school and can lead to a higher likelihood of dropping out of high school.

WINGS’ work in Pomona was made possible through the support of Philanthropy and Community Engagement (PACE) and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

“One of the biggest benefits of the social emotional skills that WINGS aims to build through afterschool programming is the positive impact it has on behavior in the classroom,” said Michael Tollin, founder of PACE. “We see the great promise and value of the work WINGS is doing and we’re thrilled to support their continued work in Pomona to help more kids develop the social and emotional skills that are key to their success both inside and outside of the classroom.”

In addition to its partnership with PUSD, WINGS serves more than 1,100 students from vulnerable communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina through a direct-service afterschool program model of their research-based curriculum led by college students, known as WINGSLeaders. To learn more about WINGS for Kids and the positive impact of SEL in afterschool, please visit their website.


About Pomona Unified School District

The Pomona Unified School District provides a well-rounded and challenging educational program of the highest quality, empowering students to lead productive, fulfilling lives as lifelong learners. Supported on a foundation of integrity and respect, students will gain academic excellence and take personal and community pride as responsible citizens and productive participants in a diverse society and global economy.

About WINGS for Kids

WINGS for Kids is a nonprofit education program that teaches kids how to behave well, make good decisions and build healthy relationships. The program weaves a comprehensive social emotional learning curriculum into a fresh and fun afterschool program—specifically targeted toward supporting low-income, minority students. Kids get the life lessons they need to succeed and be happy, and a safe place to call home after the school day ends.