We work to transform the landscape of education by prioritizing social emotional health in school culture and classrooms, so that all children have the chance to succeed. Due to advancements in neuroscience, we have learned that the impact of early toxic stress on the brain is largely reversible. Promoting social emotional health in children creates a buffer to such toxic stress. Therefore, the solution to the dire needs our children face is to invest in research and training to broadly disseminate best practices in building and repairing social emotional health.
Traditional academic settings are not equipped to build or repair social emotional health though a deficit in social emotional health is the biggest barrier to long-term success. The standard public education system responds bluntly to children who have experienced adverse conditions through aggressive disciplinary measures. These measures are not only ineffective for children who have experienced toxic stress, they actually escalate the baseline damage. Psychological research indicates that these behaviors are not acts of defiance, but rather indicators of stress and expressions of a core need for validation and safe connection.
Momentous Institute’s foundation in research, trauma informed approach, and implementation of evidence-based programming to improve social emotional health and solid outcomes have allowed us to shift the conversation regarding effective ways to ensure that children residing in poverty have every chance to succeed. Our direct services have created sustainable change for children and families and lead to a lifetime of well-being and success.
Our work and research indicates that teachers can foster a classroom environment that promotes neural plasticity within the student's brain, facilitating the brain's flexibility and willingness to grow and become more complex. A trauma-informed, social emotional focus in the classroom allows children to acquire self-regulation strategies and creates the necessary safe attachment within the classroom and with the teacher. The factors that have caused the child’s stress do not disappear, but the child acquires coping mechanisms to be successful in the face of external stressors.
Our urban laboratory school serves low-income children from 3 years of age through 5th grade and provides a rigorous academic environment with a focus on social emotional learning. The following long-term academic outcomes of students are directly attributed to the prioritization of social emotional health in the classroom:
- 99% of students who graduate from Momentous School after fifth grade finish high school on time.
- 86% of students who graduate from Momentous School enroll in college and 87% of those remain enrolled into their sophomore year.
Our most recently adopted strategic goal is to effectively scale programming in school settings by investing in the dissemination of research and training throughout North Texas and the nation. Our Innovation & Impact Department is deploying training teams to provide intensive instruction and coaching on our model across North Texas and beyond. The training team consists of an education trainer, mental health trainer and research staff and works to equip educators and mental health professionals with the skills and knowledge to integrate our trauma-sensitive practices into their services. The strategy allows us to scale programming, serving children we would never meet, so that they can achieve their full potential.
Our comprehensive 2015 strategic plan includes the following five strategic goals:
- Strengthen the social emotional health of 6,000 children and family members who are impacted by poverty, trauma or abuse through services that integrate education and mental health on an annual basis.
- Sustain positive change through successful transfer of social emotional health strategies to home and school.
- Research how best to improve student and client success.
- Inspire people, organizations and communities to invest in social emotional health.
- Train 4,000 education and mental health professionals across the country to help countless children we will never meet on an annual basis.