As the September deadline for spending federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds approaches, WestEd is launching a new initiative to help K–12 leaders use these funds to improve the conditions of learning, development, and well-being in their educational systems so that students can succeed and thrive.

WestEd’s new service, Conditions for Learning and Development: Peer Collaboratives for Educational Leaders, will help education leaders develop the mindsets, relationships, policies, and practices that support equitable and just systems.

Each collaborative can accommodate six teams from local educational agencies (LEAs) or state educational agencies (SEAs) and will run from July 2024 to June 2025. Participants will get access to evidence-based resources, peer learning, networking, workshops, and customized coaching and consulting for themselves, their colleagues, and LEA/district teams.

School Climate Data Use

The School Climate Data Use collaborative will support district teams in improving their data use practices so they can build on their school climate work. Participants and district teams will identify assets and opportunities for school climate improvement.

Participatory Systems Change for Equity

Participatory Systems Change for Equity (PSCFE) is a systems change approach that centers on the experiences and wisdom of those impacted by systemic inequity to make sense of and interrupt inequitable system conditions through collective action. This may involve participatory policymaking, strategy development, budgeting, evaluation, design, and other system improvement efforts.

Reimagining School Safety

School safety is frequently defined as the absence of physical harm and violence. For schools to be safe for everyone, however, school leaders also must prioritize positive elements, such as belonging, voice, agency, and interconnection. In this collaborative, participants will explore topics such as restorative justice and complex adaptive systems. They’ll also develop practices aimed at reimagining elements of school safety and learn how to integrate these into their existing processes over time.

Creating a Culture of Care

This collaborative prioritizes the well-being of both students and staff within educational settings, recognizing the limitations of individual-focused approaches in addressing systemic issues. Sessions will facilitate ongoing learning and dialogue, and as members cultivate openness to shifting mindsets and practices, they’ll engage in deep inquiry and reflection—striving to create environments in which both individuals and the collective can thrive academically, professionally, and personally.

“Over the past five years, young people, families, and their communities have had to navigate a global pandemic, an increasingly polarized society, intensified violence in their communities, and a youth mental health crisis,” said Natalie Walrond, director of Resilient and Healthy Schools and Communities (RHSC). “The peer collaboratives will help education leaders address the impacts of these challenges by learning new, strengths-based strategies to promote safe and healthy conditions for learning and development.”

Learn more about Conditions for Learning and Development: Peer Collaboratives for Educational Leaders, or contact the RHSC team with questions at

Are you interested in joining the peer collaboratives? Please complete the general application to participate in a collaborative, and the RHSC team will contact you with additional information.