Caring Schools FAQ

What is a Caring School?
Caring Schools are middle and high schools that are committed to working to build caring, safe, inclusive learning communities and to promote key social, emotional and ethical capacities in children. Caring Schools use data and research-based strategies to promote safety, caring, and respect; to develop children’s capacity for empathy, self-awareness and responsibility for their communities; and to develop effective responses bullying and other problem behaviors that are known to interfere with teaching and learning.

How do we become a Caring School?
Schools are required to submit an application, including a signed Letter of Agreement, and should choose the Caring Schools package that best fits their school’s needs.

How much does participation in the Caring Schools program cost?
Three packages are available: Essential, Enhanced, and Premium. The Enhanced package is available at no cost for schools that receive Title I funding. More information about services and pricing is available here. All schools may participate in our school surveys free of charge.

Who can participate in the Caring Schools program?
Any school serving students in grades 6 - 12 is eligible to apply; we can also customize partnerships for school districts. In the past, we have worked with nearly 200 district, independent, religious, and charter schools nationwide, in addition to several international schools.

What will MCC provide?
Any school that participates will have access to our survey and to certain resources and strategies designed to promote SEL and to create caring, inclusive communities. Additional services depend on the Caring Schools package that your school chooses. You can review those options here [link].

How does the Caring Schools program benefit my school?
This program can help to create a more positive, caring environment in your school and promote in children key social and emotional capacities. Positive learning environments and social and emotional capacities are important to support academic learning and to foster healthy development.

What is the difference between joining the Caring Schools program in the Fall vs. in the Spring?
The main difference between the two cohorts is the timing. Schools that sign up for the Fall will complete survey administration in November-December and will move onto action planning for the Spring semester. Schools that sign up for the Spring will administer surveys to their community in March-April and will do action planning for the Fall semester.  

Which timeline (Fall or Spring) is preferable?
It depends on what works better for your school context and goals. Schools that select the Fall term generally prefer to partner with us over the course of a single school year, while schools that participate beginning in the Spring prefer to take advantage of the summer to dive into their data in order to set goals and create action plans for the following school year.

What does participation mean for us?
Caring Schools use survey data to identify areas of challenge and strength, and to create a corresponding action plan. The Caring Schools team at MCC will provide resources on translating data into action and a library of research-based strategies that schools can easily implement to promote SEL and safety, caring, and respect. The level of support provided by MCC depends on the Caring Schools package you choose.

How can my school sign up?
There is an easy, two-part application process to become a Caring School. First, schools complete a brief online application. MCC will then contact you with a Letter of Agreement outlining the expectations of the partnership and logistics for your school’s participation. School applications will not be considered complete until we have received a completed Letter of Agreement.

What is a Letter of Agreement?
A Letter of Agreement (LOA) is a document that outlines the details of the partnership between your school and MCC. A LOA is required by the Harvard Institutional Review Board (IRB) for all schools participating in the MCC Caring Schools program. The LOA is designed to protect the anonymity of participants’ data and helps us make sure we abide by schools’ and districts’ research protocols.

Is this a research project?
Yes and no. The survey portion of the MCC Caring Schools program is research and requires consent from schools, teachers, and students. All the survey data from schools that participate in the MCC Caring Schools program will be compiled and may be used for educational and research purposes; all data will be de-identified at the school and student level and schools will never be named. The survey has been approved by the Harvard Institutional Review board, which approves, monitors, and reviews all research to ensure that it is conducted in a safe, ethical manner. The services that are provided in addition to the survey are not research; they build from and support the data to help schools better build caring, inclusive environments.

How can we address the challenge areas we found through the survey results?
After identifying challenge areas specific to your school, please review your Caring Schools Toolkit and take advantage of our strategies and resources. If you have subscribed to a package that includes personalized guidance and consultations, we will be in touch to schedule a session to discuss survey results.

We would like to let our school community know about our partnership with Making Caring Common and the Caring Schools program. Is that okay?
Absolutely! We encourage you to let members of your school community know about your participation in the Caring Schools program and to take part in this important work. If you have not received your digital “Caring Schools” badge please let us know. Here is some language that you can use to discuss your participation:

Organization Name: Making Caring Common, a Project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Project: Caring Schools program

Suggested Language: [School name] is a Caring School! We are partnering with Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to build a more caring, inclusive school community where students feel safe, supported, and connected. As an MCC Caring School, we will use data to better understand how students, staff, and parents experience our school community. We will also have access to a library of research-based strategies and insights from leaders in the field to further promote safety, caring, and respect in our community. Learn more about MCC Caring Schools at

We cannot participate in the MCC Caring Schools program, but are interested in your work. How else can we be involved?
Schools are encouraged to explore our website to learn more about our project; in particular, schools can view our Caring Schools Toolkit page to view some of our strategies and resources to support safety, caring, and respect in schools. You are also welcome to sign up for our mailing list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.