EmpowerU Rolls Out Tier 1 Program to Help Students in Grades K-8 Take Charge of Their Mental Wellbeing and School Success
Nationwide Launch Expands Access and Services of a Social-Emotional Learning Program Proven To Teach Children Resilience and Build Lasting Wellbeing Skills
(August 17, 2021—Minneapolis, MN) As data becomes clear that the pandemic will have long-lasting effects on youth mental health, EmpowerU’s expanded evidence-based social-emotional learning (SEL) services to schools is now available nationwide. The Tier 1 (universal) elementary and middle school curriculum is designed to teach student resilience and confidence in kindergarten through eighth grade. EmpowerU’s Tier 1 program is the result of 16 months of development and testing.
“Last year took a toll on students, teachers, families and schools,” said Katie Dorn, MA, LSC, MFT, EmpowerU’s founder and licensed school counselor and family therapist. “As we begin this year, it’s become very clear that the uncertainty is not over. Students are going to need more skills and support to manage the ongoing pandemic stress and become engaged learners for the year ahead — and schools need a solution that is affordable and quick to start. That’s exactly what EmpowerU is designed to do.”
Based on her experience working as a school counselor and interest in data-driven SEL, Dorn and her team designed the new Tier 1 curriculum to launch quickly and deliver measurable and lasting results.
EmpowerU’s new Tier 1 program is a true plug-and-play solution with lasting benefits for all students in grades K-8. Teachers simply follow along on the EmpowerU platform to begin each lesson, and students cement their learning through individual reflection using EmpowerU’s intentional journaling prompts.
”When there is so much going on in a student’s life and the world around them, they can feel a real loss of control,” says Kelly Curtis, elementary school counselor and recipient of the 2021 Wisconsin Equity in Action Award. “EmpowerU helps students of all ages realize — no matter what happens around them — that they absolutely can learn to control their thinking and the way they handle their emotions. Students gain confidence by learning the skills to do just that.”
The EmpowerU SEL program for K-5 students features Charge™, a lovably fuzzy character representing each person’s internal locus of control. When students learn how to tap into their internal locus of control, they acquire skills to help them navigate difficult times in positive, healthy ways.
Teachers using EmpowerU’s Tier 1 program receive:
- Plug-and-play classroom lessons tailored to engage students at each grade level
- Student booklets/journals that prompt reflection and writing for application of learning
- A Charge™ stuffed toy for classroom use and videos starring “Charge™” working through different emotions for whole-class activities (K-5)
- Daily 1-2 minute video and or audio skillbuilding exercises that reinforce calming tools in morning meetings or class time
- Classroom posters to reinforce lessons for growth
“We knew our elementary program needed to make sense in the day-to-day routine of the classroom,” Dorn said. “The last thing teachers need is one more thing to learn, prep and execute in their day. That’s why we’ve made natural use of morning meeting times, whole-class work, pair-share activities and writing for personal reflection. And we scripted each prompt and activity on the portal to genuinely minimize teacher prep, increase the teacher’s natural confidence in delivery and maximize lasting results with fidelity of implementation.”
Dorn said the Tier 1 program for grades 6-8 features learning activities tailored to engage and support students in early adolescence and uses a similar delivery model. A Tier 2 SEL targeted intervention is also available to students in grades 3-5 and grades 6-12 who need personalized support. The online course is differentiated for grade levels, using lessons and highly-trained 1:1 coaching to help take students from struggling with adversity or triggers to using self direction for resilience and confidence.
Streamlined training for participating teachers supports a quick start-up for any school or district. One 30-minute online training session is followed by 10-15 minutes of self-guided learning.
EmpowerU’s approach helps schools scale their mental health services according to student needs and counseling capacity. EmpowerU’s approach is aligned with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and National Health and Wellness standards and measures student growth using the Prochaska/DiClemente Transtheoretical Model of Change.
Independent evaluation of the EmpowerU’s Tier 2 program for grades 6-12 that launched in 2017 shows:
- More than 93% of students who complete EmpowerU make a dramatic shift from discouragement and anxiety to improved wellbeing, motivation and hope.
- More than 88% of students complete the program, compared to completion rates of 5-30% in other programs.
- More than 98.5% of students would recommend EmpowerU to a friend or classmate.
About Empower U
EmpowerU’s highly personalized, online SEL program helps young people replace anxiety and depression with resilience and confidence, fueling student transformation without a heavy lift on staff or need for additional hires. The program provides each student with interactive lessons and personalized coaching, pairing technology with brain research in a unique way that supports students and empowers their growth. Multi-year data makes it clear: nobody understands Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and approaches SEL the way EmpowerU does.
Janet Swiecichowski (public relations)