SEL Mindset

We provide educational, social-emotional and family support to ensure that our students are healthy, engaged, and supported on all levels.

Photo of Maureen Garrett
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Our year-round program: 5th grade-high school and college graduation integrates non-cognitive skill development, STEM and project-based, hands-on learning. This ensures students have the academic & social-emotional skills to thrive in high school & college. We provide educational access and support, foster personal confidence, sense of belonging and self-esteem needed to pursue educational and lifetime dreams. Mentoring/tutoring/innovative curriculum/participant's long term commitment = success.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Palo Alto

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

San Francisco Bay Area: Specifically our students come from the following school districts: Mountain View, East Palo Alto, eastern Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Mateo and Foster City.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We are making a significant impact on the local community by leveling the playing field and closing the achievement gap for hundreds of underserved yet high-achieving students each year—inspiring a new generation of diverse college graduates, working professionals and community leaders who represent our future in a rapidly changing world.

Peninsula Bridge provides a 12-year continuum of support from 5th grade through high school and college graduation, with an integration of non-cognitive skill development, STEM and project-based, hands-on learning. The comprehensive support ensures that students have the academic and social-emotional skills to thrive in high school and college.

All Peninsula Bridge programs are rigorous and engaging. Our primary goal is to provide educational access and support, while fostering the personal confidence, sense of belonging and self-esteem needed to pursue educational and lifetime dreams. With a high-quality teaching staff, mentoring and tutoring, an innovative curriculum and long-term commitment from participants, Peninsula Bridge prepares students—one at a time—to meet the challenges of academic success.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Education
  • Other

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Lupita, a 6th grader in the Middle School Academy gives a student perspective on the outcomes of the Peninsula Bridge Social Emotional Learning curriculum: To me, a person with a Growth Mindset (GM) is someone that says, I might be struggling with this task, yet I can...and then they think of things they can do to push through and persevere through the problem. They know they can grow and don't have to stay stuck where they are. They believe they can improve. Growth Mindset has impacted how I learn. I used to think very differently about learning and doubt myself. Now, I tell myself: You've got this. Because of GM, I see how important it is to do well in school, be positive and calm. Now I never underestimate what I can do!

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

There are many obstacles facing first-generation, low-income families in our community. Non-cognitive attributes are critical to navigating these obstacles. After-school & summer programs provide a supportive learning context to develop these skills. -100% of students are SED & have a 3.0+ GPA. -90% of summer students improved their math/writing skills, reported an increase in self-confidence, learned new strategies, and confident they will go to college. -100% MS students reported increased confidence, social skills and belonging. -100% HS students plan to attend college, understand college landscapes because of Bridge’s support programs. -100% of our high school and college students participate in summer internships, jobs or academic programs. -Parents report increased confidence in advocating for their children and a better understanding of the high school and college systems.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1mil - $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Peninsula Bridge actively works to create sustainable funding. Our funding model is split between individual, corporate and foundation donors. We do not have any governmental funding. We have one event annually that raises approximately 1/4 of our annual budget. We are continually working to obtain multi-year gifts that would allow for easier Pro-forma budgeting and expansion.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

-High Potential Students-Recruit students with academic aptitude and drive -Long-Term Commitment-12-year partnership: learning/coaching/mentoring -Whole-Child Approach-Provide educational/social-emotional/family support so students are healthy/engaged/supported -Innovative Curriculum/Active Learning-Inspire critical thinking/love of learning with inquiry-based programs -Academic Prep-Prepare for success in college prep classes -Cohort Model-Develop strong bonds with achieving peers & same goal of college graduation -CS/STEM exposure builds foundation

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Research shows that social emotional skills not only improve achievement by an average of 11% but increase prosocial behaviors (kindness/sharing/empathy), improve student attitudes toward school, reduce depression and stress among students (Durlak et al., 2011). Angela Duckworth's (psychologist from UPenn) research proves grit & self-control can be a more reliable predictor of a student's GPA than their IQ. Grit & tenacity help students maintain concentration on tasks and is important for academic success. When it comes to high achievement, grit may be as essential as intelligence!

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 40%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 40%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 20%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 20%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 20%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 60%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 20%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 20%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 20%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 40%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 20%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 20%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 40%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 20%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 100%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 0%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 100%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 50%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Doug Gould

Hi Maureen,
Well organized program and a very well written submission! I especially like the long term focus to ensure that kids "get it". Have you considered how you might scale this up to serve the entire at risk community instead of just focusing on kids that show high potential? Everybody can benefit from brain training. Best of luck.

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