Momentous Institute Winter 2018 Newsletter

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Momentous Institute has been in the business of building and repairing social emotional health for almost 100 years. Part of our commitment is investing in research so that children and families we will never meet will be impacted by our work. The research team has two goals: 1) to evaluate the impact of Momentous Institute’s direct work with families, and 2) to look deeply at why social emotional health works so that we can share it with other schools and organizations. In the past few years, Momentous Institute has published three research papers detailing multi-year studies that prove social emotional health is a game changer for children. Using trauma-informed strategies with teachers in demographically diverse schools, the research team has been able to assess the impact of Momentous Institute’s social emotional health curriculum, Settle Your Glitter. The results confirmed Momentous Institute’s prediction: a commitment to social emotional health improves students’ ability to manage emotions and reactions, which is critical for learning, goal setting, and problem solving. One area of focus for Momentous Institute’s research is mindfulness-based practices with young children – a fairly uncharted area of study. Dr. Karen Thierry, Director of Research and Evaluation, remarks that there are “very few other known studies to date that have examined the impact of a mindfulness program on prekindergarten students.” Another area of focus for the research team is the feasibility of integrating Momentous Institute’s Huddle Up approach in middle school classrooms, which is currently being implemented in four different schools in the Dallas area. A commitment to research allows us to practice beyond the limits of our intuition and change the narrative of what is possible for children who, far too often, are defined by their limitations.

Settle Your Glitter Curriculum Study

296 prekindergarten students from eight different urban schools participated

Teachers received six full day trainings and in-classroom support

Four classrooms were given the Settle Your Glitter curriculum and four were not (control groups)

At the end of one year, students in the Settle Your Glitter classrooms outperformed those in control classrooms on assessments measuring students’ abilities to manage their behaviors and emotions, revealing that utilizing a social emotional health curriculum that is trauma-informed can result in improvement in students’ capacity to navigate their environments more successfully.

I’m feeling all the feels as I write this final letter. I will be transitioning out of this role in 2019 and making way for the next leader to continue advancing our vision: social emotional health for all children so they can achieve their full potential. After 20 years with the organization, the single biggest vote of confidence I have to offer comes in handing things over. I have never been more proud to be associated with Momentous Institute or more excited about what its future may hold. And, I have never felt more grateful to all of you who have linked arms with the Salesmanship Club to support our efforts. I went into this year’s Changing the Odds conference thinking our theme of Belonging was an important topic and I came out of those two days convinced that belonging is the single biggest issue of our time. We have some work to do, Dallas. The Urban Institute just ranked us dead last out of 274 large U.S. cities in regard to how inclusive our economic growth has been across income levels and race – confirming that our sense of hope and opportunity does not extend across the city.

In an increasingly divided world, it is sometimes hard to remember all of the things we as human beings have in common. A key pillar of building and repairing social emotional health is safe relationships. The Belonging Project at Stanford University in 2017 revealed that through families, culture groups and communities, children who feel a sense of belonging are more likely to have positive health outcomes. “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people,” says author and professor, Brené Brown. “When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to.” Given its importance, how can we create environments where all children gain a sense of belonging? Here are three strategies that can help:

1. Start with the morning!

One of the best times to show children they are valued is first thing in the morning. It can be tempting to wake children up by yelling from another room, but taking the few extra minutes to wake children up with affection and closeness can create a positive start to the day and a strong sense of belonging. Teachers at Momentous Institute practice this every morning as they stand outside the door of their classrooms to greet each child. These simple actions set an encouraging, inviting tone for the day, reinforcing for children that they are not alone and they are valued.

We can do better. We can extend our definition of who belongs, and amplify the deep-felt sense that whatever is done to some of us is done to all of us. To be the kind of leader that Dallas could be, we must reimagine who we could be as a more inclusive community. When we embody this next-level vision, we will create spaces where our differences fuel passion and progress rather than widen a divide. We will start caring more about who is at the table, and about which voices and opinions are privileged. We will make sure the communities most impacted by the problems are involved at every level of decision-making. We will fully embrace the creative energy of doing with instead of sleepwalking into the traditional narratives of doing for. We will stop fueling the false dichotomy that “I have, and you need.” We all have, and we all need and our fates are tied together. Only by reinventing our city into a city of belonging can we achieve the Dallas we all want.


Michelle Kinder Executive Director

2. Invest in their interests.

As children develop, it is crucial to encourage their interests. By giving time, energy and resources to help strengthen their belief in their gifts and skills, parents affirm that their children not only fit in this world, but that they can also use their skills to benefit others. If a child is interested in art, parents can sit down with her to help her complete fun activities at home that stimulate creativity. The same goes for the little athlete at home who would love their parent to kick the soccer ball with them outside. Seeing and expressing joy in a child’s interests reinforces their sense of feeling seen and feeling appreciated.

3. Prioritize their friends.

The primary way a child learns about this unpredictable world is through the lens of their families and peers. Parents can inspire their children with inviting conversations about respect, acceptance and the explicit encouragement to engage with friends from other cultures or friends with other interests. In addition, parents can suggest that their children invite friends over and observe how they interact with them. They affirm instances when their children are respectful, and also address any signs of disregard that could be hurtful to others. Children begin to develop biases connected to race and differences as early as three years old. Parents’ posture and the way in which the family converses are crucial to helping shape a child’s sense of respect and belonging for self and others.


One impromptu phone call. Two invested partners. One big impact. This is how you could define the collaboration between Glynn County Georgia’s FACES Prekindergarten Center and Momentous Institute.

classrooms. Research throughout the year showed significant progress in the students’ social skills and motivation to learn, both markers of strong social emotional health.

In spring of 2015, activist Roger Ryan called Dr. Rhonda Vincent, Momentous Institute’s director of educational training, to discuss what he would need in order to implement social emotional health into an early education program in Georgia, called Jumpstart. Ryan and his wife, Jeanne Manning, are local philanthropists in St. Simon, Georgia, and are passionate about strengthening local education. After learning about Momentous Institute online, they worked with Dr. Vincent and the Momentous Institute team to develop a multiyear partnership that would bring social emotional health to the students of Glynn County.

Ryan and Manning’s vision began to expand as Family and Children’s Education Services (FACES) in Brunswick, Georgia asked to pilot the Settle Your Glitter curriculum in two of its classrooms in the 2016-2017 school year. Through monthly coaching sessions with Momentous Institute team members, the FACES teachers remained equipped and connected as students continued to show progress with the curriculum.

In the Summer of 2015 – the first year of the partnership – six teachers in the JumpStart program were provided social emotional health training and piloted the Settle Your Glitter curriculum. Each teacher had 25 students and used their newly learned social emotional health strategies in their

In 2017-2018, Settle Your Glitter curriculum, was added to all 12 prekindergarten classrooms at FACES, reaching a total of 256 students. This fueled another expansion in 2018-2019, as the entire Glynn County district elected to expand the work of social emotional health to all prekindergarten classrooms in the district. Thanks to the vision of Ryan, Manning and district administrators, Glynn County students now understand how to track and regulate their emotions, focus on breathing and build social emotional health.

Spring 2015:

2016-2017 School Year:


Georgia philanthropist, Roger Ryan, calls Dr. Rhonda Vincent of Momentous Institute to ask about adding social emotional health curriculum to his Jumpstart program in Glynn County.

Family and Children’s Services (FACES) asks to pilot the Settle Your Glitter curriculum in a few classes in Brunswick, GA and the curriculum is implemented during the school year.

The entire Glynn County school district implements the social emotional health curriculum into its classrooms.

Summer 2015:

2017-2018 School Year:

Six teachers in Jumpstart are provided social emotional health training and pilot the Settle Your Glitter curriculum.

All 12 prekindergarten classrooms at FACES implement the Settle Your Glitter curriculum, reaching 256 students.

Momentous Institute’s work in the field of social emotional health is made possible thanks to organizations and individuals who graciously share their time and resources in a desire to change the lives of children. We are excited to announce a new partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in December 2015, is a new kind of philanthropic organization that brings together world-class engineering, grant-making, impact investing, policy and advocacy work. Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s education work is focused on helping educators equip students with the life skills and habits of success to take on an ever-changing world. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is supporting Momentous Institute’s Strategic Intervention Model (SIM), a model focused on facilitating collaboration and change at the intersection of education and mental health. Through the SIM program, Momentous Institute’s therapeutic services and education teams provide consultation to Momentous School teachers on interventions for students who demonstrate social, emotional and/or behavioral issues.

More than 1,400 educators, mental health professionals and influencers from 105 cities and 19 states gathered September 27-28 for the 7th annual Changing the Odds Conference, Belonging: Because Together We Are Better.

Sarah Hemminger

David Williams

When you form real relationships, they don’t happen overnight. They are not transactional. They are covenantal.

We usually think of resilience as a psychological resource, but it is also a social resource that can be addressed and cultivated.

Tina Payne Bryson

Father Greg Boyle

The measure of our compassion is not in our service to the wounded, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.

What children need most is for us to show up ‌ anytime we show up for people, it changes their minds and their brains.

Jen Hatmaker

Kindness and belonging may not win hour by hour, but they will win the day.

We can’t wait to see you at the 8th annual Changing the Odds conference, October 24-25, 2019!

Mark Nepo

The strength of our kindness will dilute the sting of the world.

Rosalind Wiseman

When we degrade the most vulnerable among us, we degrade all of us.

Timothy Shriver Brenda Jones Harden

You do not need to be a therapist to be therapeutic.

There’s something about “othering” others that others ourselves … everyone has a gift. No exceptions.

Changing the Odds Dinner This year marked the 7th annual Changing the Odds Dinner. The event was held at the Omni Dallas Hotel and featured Father Gregory Boyle, the inspiring Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. The evening celebrated amazing donors and partners who have faithfully supported the community and the work of Momentous Institute and Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The room buzzed with energy and anticipation as guests were called to make the City of Dallas a place of belonging so all people have a place at the table.


Help Us Nurture a New Generation We are immensely grateful for your generous support of our 2018 annual campaign. The barrage of troubling current events makes the availability of programming focused on building social emotional health ever more critical. We desperately need to nurture a new generation that is deeply grounded in understanding and managing their emotions, reactions and relationships. Through your generosity, we have secured $200,000 toward our $600,000 goal. Your contribution will allow us to share our best practices with professionals, parents and influencers to develop socially emotionally healthy children who can achieve their full potential.

Please consider a gift to partner with Momentous Institute and our community to ensure that all children can become the changemakers they are meant to be! To make a gift or for more information, please contact: Jessica Trudeau, Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships, at 214.944.5713 or

Rockwall Youth Enjoy the Outdoors In November 2017, Rockwall County Juvenile Services began a partnership with Momentous Institute to host teenagers from its program at our camp in Hawkins, Texas. The partnership creates opportunities for children to escape the concrete of the city and participate in nature-based therapy to build social emotional health. Through Momentous Institute’s strengths-based approach, children learn self-regulation, respect for self and others, problem solving, communication and teamwork skills. The Rockwall Juvenile Services staff is passionate about seeing transformation in the lives of children. Teens coming to juvenile services often face barriers to social emotional health in their lives, such as trauma or unsafe relationships. When presented with the opportunity to serve a group of Rockwall’s teens, Momentous Institute clinicians knew this would be a two-way learning experience and could not wait to introduce the group to the wonders of the East Texas piney woods. Led by Momentous Institute staff, the group of teens began participating in day trips where they engaged in activities like fishing, canoeing and hiking. During the trips, therapists facilitated processing sessions called “huddle up” with a focus on mindfulness activities. For many of the teens, this was their first experience casting a fishing line or canoeing. The novelty of new experiences opened up opportunities to process emotions with their peers and practice strong social emotional health in a safe space. The groups evolved from day trips to overnight trips, which helped the teens practice regulating emotions and develop a more optimistic and hopeful lens. Momentous Institute staff and the Rockwall County Juvenile Services team continue to meet for coaching, modeling, side-by-side practice, and to discuss taking what was learned at camp and threading it into the work they do with teens in the city. AARON WISE, 2018 CHAMPION

Given the impact that nature-based therapy has had on the teens and those who work with them, Momentous Institute is excited at the prospect of developing new partnerships to continue experimenting and learning how nature-based therapy can play a role in changing the odds for children.

Join us for the AT&T Byron Nelson benefiting Momentous Institute at Trinity Forest Golf Club!




Why Talk About It with Children

Equity is arguably one of the most crucial topics in society’s current dialogue. Terms like these are tossed around in the media, in our workplaces and in our classrooms, yet children and adults alike can find the topic confusing. What is equity? Equity is often used interchangeably with equality, but they have distinctly different meanings. While equality demands everyone should be treated the same regardless of differences, equity is giving everyone what they need to succeed. Imagine a family of four, including two adults and two children, taking a bike ride. Equality says that all four have the same size bicycle. Equity, on the other hand, says the children need smaller bicycles so they can reach the pedals because they are shorter in height, while the adults need bigger bikes because they have longer legs and can reach the pedals more easily.



Every child deserves the opportunity to be successful based on his or her unique gifts and talents, but not every child has equitable opportunities. It’s critical that children understand equity and the many barriers to achieving it, including race, gender and socio-economic status. Conversations around inequity are crucial. Children are talking about these barriers, whether or not their parents or other adults are creating safe places for those important conversations. Children process the world through small experiences that, when compounded over time, shape their own identity and their perception of others, including people of other races, ethnicities, genders and socio-economic statuses. If parents or teachers stay silent around the topic of equity, many children will begin to develop their own perception, of themselves or those around them based on these labels. It is crucial that parents ensure “their voice is in the room,” says Momentous Institute’s Dr. Garica Sanford, training director. “When we don’t talk to children about topics like race, we miss opportunities to help them understand the unique ethnic and cultural differences that exist and enrich our world.” Like adults, children can identify inequity in the world. They may see two children being treated differently at school or they may hear a story on the news that highlights inequity. Adults can use these opportunities to open a conversation in developmentally appropriate ways. An adult might ask a child what she thinks about an experience of inequity, or if she’s seen other examples of inequity and how she might handle it. It may be as simple as saying, “there are times when people are treated differently just because of their race or gender. How do you feel about that?” Children have an opportunity to create equity around them if they are informed of what equity is and why it is important for the social emotional health of our community. Famous journalist and author Nicholas Kristof said it best, “talent is universal; opportunity is not.”

Momentous Institute hopes for a world where all children’s talents are met with unlimited opportunities.




106 E. TENTH STREET DALLAS, TEXAS 75203 214.915.4700

1 The Importance of Research

2 A Letter from the Executive Director Three Strategies to Help Make Children Feel They Belong

3 Georgia On Our Mind Donor Spotlight

4-5 Changing the Odds 2018

6 Rockwall Youth Enjoy the Outdoors

7 Equity: Why Talk About It with Children?

Educators, mental health professionals and influencers are continually discussing how to help children succeed in the classroom, at home and with their peers. Terms like “social emotional learning,” “grit,” “soft skills,” “resilience,” and others are mentioned in the conversation as experts work to provide the proper tools for children to build these characteristics and achieve academically and socially. Momentous Institute believes in bringing all of these terms together under one umbrella with a focus on the wellbeing of the whole child. With this lens, education and mental health intersect as children work to build social emotional health, the ability to understand and manage emotions, reactions and relationships. In Momentous Institute’s model, with safe relationships as the foundation, children can learn to enhance their ability to self-regulate and obtain a greater awareness of self as they build their capacity to understand others, ultimately going out into the world as powerful changemakers.


Kindness | Compassion | Hope

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS Perspective Taking | Empathy


Gratitude | Optimism | Grit | Resilience


Brain | Breath | Feelings | Body | Impulse Control


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