07/28/2015

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Last week, New Profit Partner Shruti Sehra, who leads our Reimagine Learning Fund, and Athena Capital Advisors CEO Lisette Cooper co-published a Huffington Post piece about the growing movement behind spirituality and emotional health as powerful tools for social problem solving.

The piece focused on the value of meditation, mindfulness, and other practices in healing and social progress, using the recent tragic shootings at Charleston's AME Emanuel Church, as well as Cooper and Sehra's personal stories, as backdrops. In the piece, the authors note:

"Scientific research has shown that these mindful practices of compassion and kindness neurologically change the wiring in our brains so that it reduces the sense of "otherness" -- the difference we put between ourselves and others -- and enhances compassionate action. Evidence is on the side of those who choose reflection and compassion. While there has been mounting research that mindfulness improves academic achievement, Harvard University researchers have gone as far as to identify that eight weeks of mindfulness meditation literally changes the grey matter in the brain and shifts the way that our mind processes. This year, The American Journal of Public Health found that children with more social awareness in kindergarten commit fewer crimes as young adults and have better educational and employment outcomes."

Drawing the link between these issues and the Reimagine Learning Fund, Sehra writes:

"We know that students don't experience learning in a vacuum. Their lived experiences - the violence and discord in their homes, communities, and the larger world itself; and their stress, trauma and neurological processing - are all part of the mix. But too few learning environments take a holistic approach that focuses on social emotional intelligence alongside skill building and cognition.

Reimagine Learning is offering a way to change that by bringing marginalized children out of the shadows and into the light. A core tenet of this work is recognizing that school leaders, teachers, and students are most successful if they have compassion, self-awareness, and social emotional learning skills."