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Funding will endow a research fellowship and partnership with Empatico to foster empathy and kindness in elementary school students
by Carla Sierra
Trinity University’s Department of Education has received a $1 million gift from Trinity alumnus Daniel Lubetzky '90, executive chairman and founder of KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND). The gift will support the Lubetzky Social Emotional Learning Faculty Research Fellowship fund, which will provide University faculty with support to carry out research projects in the arena of social emotional learning. This support includes a partnership with Empatico, a free online learning platform founded by Lubetzky, through the KIND Foundation, to connect classrooms around the world.
“This generous gift will allow us to provide much needed professional development in social and emotional learning,” said Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos, Ph.D., chair of Trinity’s Department of Education and Murchison Endowed Professor of Education. “The initial response from our school communities has been overwhelming. Given the increased anxiety and depression suffered by our youth today, this will help to create a healthier society.”
This gift includes a three-year grant that will launch Empatico within 12 or more San Antonio area school districts, as well as a sustaining gift of an endowment that promotes social and emotional learning-based research and teacher preparation. Led by Jimenez-Castellanos, Pat Norman, Ph.D., Rocio Delgado, Ph.D., and Heather Haynes Smith '97, '98, Ph.D., the Department of Education will equip and deploy more than 495 teachers and/or counselors directly to use Empatico with approximately 162,000 students. In half-day sessions, participants will learn about the tool’s ability to connect local students with peers across the world, while also helping them meet required curricular standards in technology and English language arts.
Lubetzky received a bachelor’s degree in international studies and economics from Trinity. The mission of KIND—the snack company he founded in 2004—is to make the world a little kinder one snack and act at a time.
Carla Sierra is public relations manager for Trinity's Strategic Communications and Marketing Department. She can be reached at csierra [at] trinity.edu.