WellAhead: A 5-year journey supporting innovation in K-12 school wellbeing (WellAhead)

As of January 2021, McConnell Foundation’s WellAhead initiative has sunsetted. To tell the story of the initiative, we recently developed this report, which recounts unexpected lessons, impacts and progress on our journey, and where to look next for developments in the field.

In 2015, the McConnell Foundation committed to 5 years of funding for the WellAhead initiative, which sought to improve child and youth mental health by catalyzing efforts to integrate social and emotional wellbeing into K-12 education.

Throughout its 5-year term, the initiative supported diverse efforts to promote learning and innovation in this space; convening leaders in education and health together, funding grassroots initiatives, and leading an innovation lab. The following report tells our story of unexpected lessons, impacts and progress on our journey, and where to look next for developments in the field.

As the initiative comes to a close, our fervent hope is that the work will continue. The following projects will extend beyond WellAhead’s sunset, and have been designed with sustained momentum and impact in mind:

The EdCan Network continues to lead knowledge mobilization and field-building work on workplace wellbeing in the K-12 sector via their Well at Work platform. EdCan will also be implementing Well at Work 2.0: a set of solutions to build the capacity of education leaders to implement transformative and comprehensive strategies that will improve staff wellbeing, reduce system-wide costs, and in turn create more positive learning environments for students.

The College of Alberta School Superintendents are continuing work to leverage the Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard and support superintendents to lead systemic and sustainable approaches to wellbeing across all provincial school districts in Alberta.

School Mental Health Ontario, the Canadian Association of School System Administrators, and the Canadian School Boards Association are building on the momentum generated from two pan-Canadian convenings on systemic approaches to school-based mental health and wellbeing by convening a community of practice of leaders in the area.

The Canadian Healthy Schools Alliance is leading work to mobilize knowledge on systemic and sustainable approaches to mental health and wellbeing in K-12 education.

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