"We're often with them more than parents. We have to have their emotional needs met before they can learn."

Anna Pierce, Counselor, May Howard Elementary School

Why is GSSI one of our most important philanthropic initiatives?

Everything we do in this critical area is a natural extension of New York Life's service to families and how we are personally committed to our policyowners. Grief can have a serious impact on students but support from educators makes a difference.

  • 1 in 14 children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling by age 18. 
  • 92% of educators say childhood grief is a serious problem that deserves more attention from schools.
  • More than 2/3 of educators "always" or "usually" see withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, absenteeism, and a decrease in academic performance. 
  • 75% of Americans agree that schools have a pivotal role to play in supporting grieving students.


Grief resources in school are lacking.

Nearly 70%

of teachers have at least one grieving student in their classroom.

Only 7%

of teachers have had any amount of bereavement training.

Only 25%

of those who lost a parent growing up say their school was well prepared to help them.

"It was hard because I couldn't concentrate on my work because I was thinking of my dad."

-Serena, 5th grade


Strive to become an official Grief-Sensitive School.

Currently there are more than 2000 participating schools, which have made a formal commitment to strive to become more grief-sensitive. Those that do receive New York Life’s "Grief-Sensitive School" designation as well as a $500 grant to help them enhance the grief support and resources available to their school community.



GSSI ambassadors take on the cause.

GSSI taps into New York Life’s nationwide workforce of more than 20,000 agents and employees to help share the Coalition’s resources with schools across the country. As a part of the program, New York Life trains interested and qualified agents and employees about supporting grieving students at school. These GSSI ambassadors then connect with local schools (which must be accredited K-12 public or private institutions) to offer a presentation to school professionals on the issue of grief at school and direct educators to existing grief resources that can help them provide a more supportive environment for their students.



The Coalition to Support Grieving Students.

Pioneering collaboration among the leading K-12 professional organizations who worked together to produce industry-endorsed, educator-specific grief resources and training materials.

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Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

New York Life provides six students with $1,000 scholarships through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This national recognition will acknowledge students who have experienced the death of a close loved one and who have explored that loss in their creative work.

Learn more

Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Provides a model to support bereavement youth and build resiliency, as well as help developing social, emotional and behavioral skills to help members cultivate supportive peer relationships to overcome adversity, including the loss of a loved one.

Learn more