Mar 7, 2022

K-12 Education Market Update: The Rise of Social Emotional Learning in K-12 Education

K-12 Education Market Shifts Towards Social Emotional Learning Solutions

Capstone Partners released its February 2022 Early Childhood & K-12 Education Sector Update, providing a spotlight on Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Dating back as early as 1968 with the research of Dr. James Carter at Yale University’s Child Study Center, SEL has focused on supporting the development and education of the “whole child.” Over time, the framework for promoting SEL in schools has developed significantly to build a foundation for utilization across K-12 classrooms. In light of the pandemic, the billions of dollars in new federal funding for education, and the recent U.S. Surgeon General advisory on the Youth Mental Health Crisis, SEL has unique tailwinds that will drive its further implementation.

As school districts have scrambled to normalize the student learning experience in a remote setting, in-person delivery of critical SEL skills and development has been reduced, and the benefits of the SEL coursework have been subsequently limited. Although the onus will undoubtedly be on school districts and administrators to properly allocate, utilize, and distribute recently received government funds, it brings to the forefront the need to address this group that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and to prioritize getting schools back on track. As a result, technology-enabled SEL providers have experienced heightened demand from school districts and garnered significant interest from acquirers and venture capital firms seeking to deploy large capital investments. Notable deal activity includes the Capstone-advised recapitalization of Conscious Discipline by Prairie Capital in December 2021.

Also included in this report:

  • Recent notable merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions and capital raises exemplifying the growing demand in the SEL segment
  • How soft skills in K-12 schools have been severely under-prioritized, and why the majority of educators have exhibited a strong demand for SEL solutions in the classroom
  • What school districts can do to improve SEL offerings to K-12 students and mitigate the potential loss of billions of GDP dollars from COVID-disrupted learning

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