The Cigna Group Foundation renews support for Mindful Schools; $425,000 grant will fund the expansion of mindfulness programming in 15 Title I schools.
Emeryville, CA (August 15, 2023) – As part of a $425,000 grant from The Cigna Group Foundation’s Healthier Kids For Our Future initiative, Mindful Schools is expanding our mindfulness programming at 15 Title I schools across the country. We’re excited to partner with school leaders to cultivate thriving school communities, supporting teacher, staff, and student mental health and well-being.
“There is a critical need to invest in the social and emotional well-being of school communities. Our continued support of Mindful Schools provides immediate relief for children and educators and supports their long-term mental and physical health.”
“There is a critical need to invest in the social and emotional well-being of school communities,” said Scott Morrison, Cigna Healthcare General Manager for New England. “Our continued support of Mindful Schools provides immediate relief for children and educators and supports their long-term mental and physical health. We’re especially proud to invest in our local Hartford community. With the expansion to the S.A.N.D. School, Hartford students will learn important skills as early as kindergarten that they can carry with them all their lives.”
Given the overlapping crises of teacher burnout and student stress and anxiety, these programs are designed as timely interventions in school well-being. We’re proud of our progress to date; during the first two years of our partnership with Cigna:
- 341 teachers and staff registered for 101: Mindfulness Foundations
- 100 educators continued on to 201: Mindfulness in the Classroom
- Mindful Schools delivered 81 PD sessions, often reaching all teachers and staff
- MS faculty provided 33 instructional coaching sessions
The continuity of support over multiple years has also allowed us to build deep partnerships with school leaders. For example, Paterson Public Schools (PPS) Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Cicely Warren, has championed making Mindful Schools programming available across her district, saying, “We believe relationships are at the core of everything we do in our district: academics, SEL, mental health. Mindfulness supports our staff to nurture their own personal well-being while also giving us tools to better connect with our students and be in service to our community’s needs.”
This year’s grant also includes first-time funding for Mindful Schools and Youth Equity Stewardship – a student-led equity project cultivating agency, empathy, and belonging – to work together at five PPS schools. We’re excited about the opportunity to deepen our partnership with the district by helping them integrate mindfulness into curriculum, culture, and other programmatic investments.
“Educators serve on the frontlines of navigating our nation’s social challenges,” said Seewan Eng, Executive Director of Mindful Schools. “Our partnership with The Cigna Group Foundation will help ensure children are welcomed into classrooms that provide a strong foundation for them to thrive and learn.”
“Mindfulness supports our staff to nurture their own personal well-being while also giving us tools to better connect with our students and be in service to our community’s needs.”
Argos Gonzalez, Head of Instruction at Mindful Schools, continued, “We know that students absorb the stress of adults, and that young people learn better in environments that are emotionally supportive. When teachers “put on their oxygen mask first” and regulate their own nervous systems, they become more effective in modeling and sharing transformative practices with youth.”
Mindful Schools’ post-course surveys show that 98% report being more present and attentive as they teach, 94% report having developed strategies to support their own well-being, and 90% report having effective strategies to build and strengthen relationships with students. Educators also report that 89% of their students improve their emotional regulation and 83% improve focus and attention.
With Mindful Schools training, educators report:
- 98% feel more present and attentive as they teach
- 94% developed strategies to support their own well-being
- 90% have effective strategies to strengthen relationships with students
- 89% of their students improve their emotional regulation and 83% improve focus and attention
Research finds that mindfulness – the practice of paying attention to one’s thoughts, bodily sensations, and external environment with nonjudgment, kindness, and curiosity – helps to decrease stress and anxiety, and strengthen resilience and emotional regulation, for both adults and children. Implementation of mindfulness in education has increased in recent years, and Mindful Schools has been a leader in this movement. We’re especially excited to support schools introducing mindfulness programs that provide a foundation for more effective social and emotional learning (SEL) and restorative justice initiatives.
“We are so grateful for The Cigna Group Foundation’s partnership in addressing the mental health and well-being of educators and students,” said Seewan Eng. “We know change is hard, which is why we focus on partnering with school leaders to invest in sustainable school-wide transformation. Together we have the power to build a brighter future by creating a mindful and heart-centered relationship with ourselves and our communities.”
In 101: Mindfulness Foundations, learn practices that can resource you during the school day and daily life, with trauma-sensitive approaches for navigating emotons, working with thoughts and biases, and cultivating compassion and joy. Educators earn credits.