For over 34 successful years, Open Circle provided evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum and professional development for elementary schools. Its innovative program transformed hundreds of schools across the United States into communities where students feel safe, cared for, and engaged in learning.
In 1987, Pamela Seigle founded Open Circle with funding from Robert S. and Grace W. Stone, committed supporters of the emotional wellbeing of children. The program operated as an action program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College and was originally named the “Framingham Schools Project,” then “Reach Out to Schools.” Open Circle was one of the first programs to define the field of SEL.
While it was in operation, Open Circle reached over 360 schools, 90 districts, and 16 states across the U.S. It also reached educators and students as far away as China and Uganda. In 2013, Open Circle’s highly effective program was recognized by CASEL in its exclusive Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs.
In June 2021, Open Circle discontinued its curriculum and professional development training, transitioning to a legacy program of the Wellesley Centers for Women.
Over the years, Open Circle influenced the growth of the SEL field, kickstarted a culture shift, and spurred U.S. schools to put more emphasis on the emotional wellbeing of the entire school community — teachers, administrators, and students. Open Circle was a central part of the Wellesley Centers for Women, which continues to build on the program’s groundbreaking work by furthering the study of SEL in educational spaces.