The Hello Insight community is always expanding, and today consists of more than 100,000 young people across nearly 2,000 programs in 48 states. As our community grows every year, we have greater opportunities to analyze the collective dataset to learn more about what best supports social and emotional learning (SEL).

And we were at it again this summer, talking to our members, reviewing each tool, and mining data to ensure we measure what matters most. Our recent findings reinforce the value of positive youth development (PYD) practices that center around young people — their experiences, culture, and context.

We uncovered new positive youth development practices that bolster SEL

Hello Insight had previously measured four PYD experiences: prioritizing young people, interest exploration, peer-to-peer engagement, and goal management. However, over the last couple of years, we have been testing several questions that were recommended by members. This summer, we had the opportunity to analyze this data and found that there are six PYD experiences central to developing SEL: Engage Authentically, Promote Peer Bonds, Expand Interests, Challenge Growth, Share Power, and Manage Goals.

While all  promote SEL development, we also discovered that some are foundational and bolster the impact of the other experiences, these include: Engage Authentically and Promote Peer Bonds. The others — Expand Interest, Challenge Growth, Share Power, and Manage Goals — work in targeted ways to meet the specific needs of young people with different characteristics (e.g., various ages, gender identities, ethnicities, and SEL capacities).

We learned that just because we can measure something doesn’t mean we should.

After conducting a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) audit, the Hello Insight team was concerned about some of the questions used to measure Self-Management. This led to several community meetings and individual conversations about how to revise the items. After much discussion, we decided to begin testing a new concept: Growth Orientation. Growth Orientation is a young person’s ability to thrive and adapt in the face of challenges. Young people with a growth orientation tend to believe that intelligence is more malleable, meaning that through their efforts, such as trying new strategies, and seeking help, they can improve. We are currently testing this new capacity in our tools. We hope this more culturally appropriate capacity will allow us to determine whether or not to ultimately remove Self-Management from our tools. We encourage and welcome further thoughts on this topic from the Hello Insight community. If you have any insights, please reach out to

Without Social Capital, young people have difficulty developing SEL.

Social Capital is a young person’s access to a web of relationships they can mobilize to help them improve their lives and achieve their goals. When young people have social capital, it is easier to grow SEL. And, when they don’t have it, growth is more difficult. The good news? Many programs across the country are helping cultivate greater social capital.

Youth organizing groups provide fertile ground for the development of contribution.

When young people engage in organizing activities around issues that directly impact their lives, they gain a deep sense of contribution and a desire to give back to their communities and society. This sensibility is cultivated significantly more within youth organizing groups than any other type of out-of-school time program using Hello Insight. How do these groups do it? The adult allies in these programs ensure that young organizers experience all of the PYD practices, and they go a step further by centering young people’s stories, identities, and experiences in everything they do.

We are so grateful and proud of  all of the contributions of the Hello Insight community this year – your voice, your data, your insights, and, most of all, your fantastic work with young people. We remain committed to building a community that is diverse, inclusive, and accessible. Where all members can access our collective insights and utilize data that is real, representative, and easy to put into practice.