National University System Partners with New York City Department of Education to Expand Access to Social Emotional Learning Program Sanford Harmony throughout the Nation’s Largest School District

National University System Partners with New York City Department of Education to Expand Access to Social Emotional Learning Program Sanford Harmony throughout the Nation’s Largest School District

Announcement made today by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and National University System Chancellor Dr. Michael R. Cunningham reflects Sanford Harmony’s support of the city’s commitment to create safer learning climates and foster student success across schools citywide.

New York, NY – Sanford Harmony, a research-based PreK-6 social emotional learning (SEL) program, has partnered with the New York City Department of Education to expand universal access to the program’s nationally recognized SEL tools and resources to all NYC elementary schools. The partnership with Sanford Harmony builds on the program’s successful implementation over the past four years with NYC schools and organizations, and it reinforces NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio’s focus on both supporting expansion of social emotional learning skills and advancing restorative justice practices into NYC elementary, middle and high schools to support safer learning climates and academic success.  Mayor de Blasio highlighted the city’s collaboration with Sanford Harmony during a press conference today at PS 705, Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary School.

The Sanford Harmony program, an initiative led by the San Diego-based nonprofit National University System, helps boys and girls at the earliest ages develop skills that emphasize collaboration and communication to cultivate strong peer and gender relationships, reduce conflict and foster positive school climates that encourage academic excellence. The national expansion of Sanford Harmony began in New York City in 2015, and through university partnerships such as NUS’ collaboration with Long Island University, the program currently reaches more than 225,000 PreK-6 children in schools and organizations throughout NYC.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the New York City Department of Education to build safe and inspired learning environments that empower both students and educators to achieve their fullest potential,” said Dr Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System, a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions and initiatives serving PreK-doctoral students. “Sanford Harmony, based on the vision of one of America’s most generous philanthropists T. Denny Sanford, promotes empathy, inclusiveness and positive gender relationships to foster healthy classrooms, schools, and communities that impact future generations.”

The partnership between Sanford Harmony and the NYC Department of Education helps to ensure that that all young children and educators in New York City have access to the powerful, evidence-based program, which has been recognized by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as a quality program. Sanford Harmony, which is offered at no cost to schools and organizations, is being implemented in many of the nation’s largest school districts, including Los Angeles, CA and Clark County, NV. The resources provided to teachers enable seamless integration of activities, lessons and stories that that encourage students to develop skills in empathy, inclusiveness and communication by learning how to collaborate and look beyond perceived differences. To date, the program is in all 50 states and – through partnerships with organizations including Junior Achievement Worldwide, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Generations for Peace, one of the top three peace-building NGOs in the world – is in more than 20 countries, impacting more than 7.7 million students globally.

The implementation of Sanford Harmony is part of a wider city collaboration with the NYPD and the United Federation of Teachers to provide all high schools and middle schools with Restorative Justice training. Together, Sanford Harmony’s social emotional training and restorative justice practices function as positive, complementary approaches to creating a safe, supportive school climate by providing students and staff opportunities to develop and use prosocial skills that help build authentic relationships and create consistency in the school community. This partnership aligns the two strategies to reduce student conflicts and develop relationships built on mutual respect between students, teachers, and administrators resulting in increased academic focus and decreased suspension and expulsions. The entire school climate package will roll out over three years, with schools citywide divided into three cohorts and receiving services on a rolling basis.

This collaboration serves as a powerful testimony to public-private partnerships, as National University System is a private, nonprofit system that is dedicated to supporting teachers and educators nationwide with one of the Top Ten largest schools of education in the country: The Sanford College of Education. Skills emphasized by Sanford Harmony have been recognized as among the most increasingly valuable skills needed for success in the 21st century by the World Economic Forum, therefore creating a strong foundation to support continued and future success in academics, career and life.

Sanford Harmony is one of three Sanford Programs housed within the National University System. The other two are Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Sanford Inspire, provides tools and ongoing professional development support for teachers to encourage inspired teaching and collaborative learning environments that motivate children to be enthusiastic, active learners. The Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which recently released an industry-leading new book Cause Selling the Sanford Way: a Guide to Relationship-Driven Fundraising, distributes training and tools through a network of Institutes to support emerging and established fundraisers increase charitable giving and their positive impact on society. National University System is nearing the five-year anniversary of the launch of all three Sanford Programs. Through the System’s expansion efforts, which involves collaboration with universities and education partners across the country, the programs, which are managed by Scott Page, Senior Vice President of Sanford Programs, are now reaching more than 8 million students nationwide.

To learn more about learn more about how to implement Sanford Harmony, visit:

About the National University System
National University System was established to meet the emerging challenges and demands of education in the 21st century. The System is uniquely aligned to connect a diverse population of students to a network of innovative educational programs that are relevant to their lives, careers, and the marketplace and are delivered in a format that respects competing life priorities. The affiliates of the System include National University, John F. Kennedy University, City University of Seattle, Northcentral University, and the Division of Pre-College Programs. The System also includes the national Sanford Programs: Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire, which provides educators with comprehensive lesson plans and activities to support PreK-12 student development and success, and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which offers educational and training programs for frontline nonprofit fundraisers. For more information, visit

About Sanford Harmony
Based out of the National University System, the Sanford Harmony social emotional learning program is being offered at no cost to schools and youth-focused nonprofit organizations, thanks to the generosity of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford in conjunction with the San Diego-based National University System (NUS). NUS is a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions that includes National University, Northcentral University, John F. Kennedy University, City University of Seattle, and the Division of Pre-College Programs. The San Diego-based National University is home to one of the Top Ten largest schools of education in the country, the Sanford College of Education. Nationwide, Sanford Harmony is being expanded to the nation’s largest school districts. To learn more, visit