How to Secure Funding for Schoolwide PBIS & SEL Programs


The educational system has historically focused mainly on developing academic skills but is now moving towards growing and fostering social and emotional skills to help meet academic goals and prepare children to be college and career ready. Educators are being held with greater accountability at local, state, and federal levels to academic results but acknowledge that they cannot succeed if social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs are not addressed. Schools are implementing PBIS and SEL programs to meet student needs and require funding to make these programs possible and effective.

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Determine your SEL and PBIS Budget

When schools decide to implement PBIS and/or SEL programs, stakeholders are committing to at least 3 years of plans, policies, staff training, ongoing professional development, in-class coaching support, data analysis protocols, and layered action plans based on student and school data. 

Schools and districts must determine what their budget will be for SEL and PBIS programs. One helpful tool is CASEL’s Roadmap to Financial Sustainability which shows how districts have financially sustained SEL initiatives. 

State and District Funding 

It is important to develop awareness and support around PBIS and SEL to increase state and local funding, which is where the majority of school funding comes from. Assisting local leadership in understanding how these programs run effectively and their impact on student success and graduation rates will help build funding resources. Schools can refer to their state’s education department for state-level initiatives that relate to PBIS and SEL for various state funding options. 

Federal Funding Sources 

Schools have several options when it comes to funding SEL or PBIS through the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA. While the programs aren’t explicitly stated in ESSA, there is language around how SEL can work in alignment with and support the goals of ESSA. Schools with a large population of low-income students can apply for Title I funding to support social and emotional interventions. Schools can apply for Title II funds supporting the retention and professional development of teachers through supporting staff’s social and emotional health and training teachers in SEL instruction. Schools can also apply for Title IV funding which supports healthy and safe students. 

In order to receive federal funds, schools must provide evidence that their interventions meet ESSA requirements. Schools can decide on over 60 evidence-based social-emotional learning interventions that meet these requirements (like Kickboard!).

Community and Business Funding

Tapping into community partnerships is a great way to secure resources and funding for SEL and PBIS programs. Businesses will get free, positive publicity for the entire school community through flyers and different modes of communication from the school. This can be as easy as vouchers for a free kids meal at a local restaurant for students who meet their PBIS goals. 

The school community can be utilized if schools take the time to build positive relationships with families. Schools can ask parents to help with different initiatives by either volunteering their time, resources, or connections or helping to fundraise. 

Nonprofit and Foundation Funding

Most foundations and nonprofit organizations that donate to education are looking for programs that have a huge impact on student learning and outcomes. The Allstate Foundation has committed to donating to programs that build SEL skills. The NEA Foundation is a charity committed to serving schools and districts around the country to offer funding and resources to help solve complex problems and has different funding options available. Schools can use to propose an initiative and receive donations. These are just a few examples of the many funding resources available to schools.