WINGS partners with the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta

For over 25 years, the mission at Wings for Kids has been to equip kids with the skills they need to succeed in school, stay in school, and thrive in life. With an evidence-based model and approach to building social emotional skills within elementary-age youth, WINGS is collaborating with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to provide more than 3,750 children with educational support, social-emotional learning, real-world skills, and workforce development to close the opportunity gap.

Working to align outcomes, WINGS has developed a plan to help the YMCA achieve its goals of “providing educational support, social-emotional learning, and real-world skills and workforce development for youth and teens.” With an emphasis on equity and cultural competence, our partnership focuses on:

  • Adult development of social emotional skills through professional learning series and workshops
  • Fostering a “SET” (supportive, engaging, and teaching) culture/climate
  • Developing a comprehensive scalable SEL program approach 

Small group planning started in the summer of 2021, and by August, training sessions were held for over 50 Afterschool YMCA leaders. Continuing in October, Chief SEL Officer Nicole and Community and Partner Project Specialist Mallory traveled to Atlanta to facilitate a social emotional learning workshop with over 250 employees from the Y. Held at the beautiful Atlanta Zoo, participants gained a greater understanding of the five core competencies of SEL, including self-awareness and self-management.

YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta participate in an SEL workshop led by Wings for Kids Chief SEL Officer Nicole L.


“By the end of the session, all 250 employees were reciting Words to Live By—the foundational words of our program that helps kids learn social emotional skills in a fun and easy way. It was a great day at Zoo Atlanta!” said Nicole. Following a detailed planning phase, WINGS will deliver a series of training workshops to build knowledge and capacity within the team at the Y —from components to core instruction to implicit modeling. When adults internalize their own skills, they are then able to transfer those skills and knowledge in their role as educators and mentors.

Chief SEL Officer Nicole and Partner Project Specialist Mallory at Zoo Atlanta in October 2022.


Setting the foundation is the first step on the path to comprehensive SEL implementation. Our approach to SEL implementation fosters a positive culture and climate within the organization, provides extensive training, integrates social emotional learning through all activities, and offers explicit curriculum to develop skills across the five social emotional learning core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills. Our methods are backed by rigorous external evaluation and are often used in tandem with other focus areas such as art, STEM, or Common Core.

Uniting the YMCA’s rich history of positive community impact through healthy body, mind, and spirit with WINGS’ philosophy and program elements has opened the door to many more opportunities—for both children and adults—to build the skills vital for success in school, work, and life. We look forward to working with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and achieving the goals set forth this year and beyond!