Frequently asked questions about our Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative.

What is the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative?

  • The New York Life Foundation’s activation program to support the Coalition to Support Grieving Students’ effort to raise awareness about the prevalence of childhood bereavement and the resources available (especially the Coalition’s online resource— ).
  • A program through which New York Life’s workforce will be trained to become GSSI Ambassadors by presenting Coalition to Support Grieving Students’ online resource,, to local school communities.

Why is New York Life/the New York Life Foundation involved?

  • The New York Life Foundation has long been focused on serving children in need, and in 2008, the Foundation expanded that focus to help children and their caregivers deal with close personal deaths.
  • The issue of childhood bereavement is a natural fit for the company.  For more than 170 years we have been there for our customers financially in times of crisis, and this initiative is another way we can be there for people in the community when we’re needed.

What is the Coalition to Support Grieving Students

  • The Coalition to Support Grieving Students is a groundbreaking cross-sector collaboration that seeks to improve the level of support and care that grieving students receive from their school communities.
  • Convened in 2013 by the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and the New York Life Foundation, the Coalition is made up of leading professional organizations representing K-12 educators and school personnel, as well as many other key constituencies across the education, health, and bereavement spaces.

What schools are eligible?

  •  K-12 accredited public and private schools.

How did you know there was a problem with lack of grief training and awareness?

  • We became aware of the fact that 1 in 15 children in the US will lose a parent or a sibling before the age of 18. It’s a common problem and an under-addressed issue.
  • The New York Life Foundation conducted a survey in October 2012 with the American Federation of Teachers that asked 1,200 AFT members about grief in schools.
  • We found that 92 percent reported that grief is a serious problem that deserves more attention in schools. Only 7 percent of teachers had any amount of grief training.

How did you go about solving it?

  • After the launch of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students in 2015, we identified an opportunity for our workforce to help share  (and other resources) with their community.
  • New York Life developed the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative, which furthers the mission of the Coalition to Support Grieving students. By leveraging the New York Life workforce in communities across the country, we are able to disseminate this industry-endorsed resource.

What are the main objectives of this initiative?

  • Raise awareness of the prevalence of children’s grief.
  • Introduce the Coalition’s industry-endorsed bereavement online resource through our agents and employees.
  • Incentivize local schools/districts to raise awareness of both this issue and this resource in their school communities.
  • We want all schools to be grief-sensitive.

What’s the process of becoming a grief sensitive school?

  • New York Life workforce must be trained on how to use our presentation materials.
  • The agent/employee must connect with the local school community to offer a personal presentation using
  • Follow up with additional resources (including a potential $500 grant) after the presentation.
  • A minimum of five (5) school personnel must attend the GSSI presentation.
  •  Schools must be an accredited K-12 public or private.
  • Schools must agree to strive to be grief-sensitive based on our criteria.
  • A school may only receive one grant through this program.
  • No grants will be made in subsequent years to the same school, even if a different New York Life person applies.
  • Schools that strive to be grief-sensitive will receive a grant of $500 to develop a bereavement plan.


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