New initiative empowers educators help grieving students.

This month marks the launch of New York Life's new nationwide initiative designed to help equip educators in local schools to better support grieving students.

Encountering grief at school is an everyday occurrence for educators: one in 15 children will experience the loss of a parent or sibling before turning 18, and nearly all children experience a close personal loss of some kind. Grief support is critical to students' personal and academic wellbeing, yet most educators lack basic grief training. The Grief Sensitive Schools Initiative (GSSI) seeks to address this preparedness gap by drawing on New York Life's national workforce of agents and employees to deliver presentations on grief support to schools in their local communities.

GSSI is projected to reach 1,000 schools by the end of the current school year and 400 schools across 30 states have already participated in the pilot program. As a part of the initiative, schools can take a pledge to commit to strive to become more grief-sensitive, and can receive an in-person presentation accompanied by a $500 grant to support their bereavement efforts.

The initiative is an extension of the work of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, a collaboration among leading K-12 professional organizations to develop and deliver best-in-class grief support resources to educators and other school professionals. The New York Life Foundation founded the Coalition in 2013, in partnership with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, as part of its commitment to improving schools’ ability to reach their grieving students.

To learn more about the Grief Sensitive Schools Initiative and its alignment with our company’s mission, please check out this article from Foundation president Heather Nesle and Head of Agency Mark Madgett, "Championing Grief-Sensitive Schools." A spotlight piece on the Coalition to Support Grieving Students and GSSI can be found here.