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Through identity exploration, social-emotional learning, and community building, nXu catalyzes students and educators to develop their purpose, invest in their future, and live thriving lives. According to nXu, purpose is a fundamental human motive at the root of major markers of success throughout one’s life. Youth with a strong sense of purpose experience greater life satisfaction and physical, mental, and emotional well-being; perform better in school; and have higher rates of college retention. Adults with a strong sense of purpose also experience greater life satisfaction, financial and professional success, resiliency, and longevity. 

nXu’s CASEL-aligned Purpose & SEL model—specifically, its curriculum—is currently being implemented in a growing number of middle and high schools across the country, where students experience significant growth in their sense of purpose and associated social-emotional constructs. nXu offers cohort learning opportunities, professional development, direct model implementation, and more to schools interested in implementing its model.

  • Integrated Identity
  • Postsecondary Knowledge & Assets
  • Learning Strategies & Habits
  • Positive Mindsets
  • Relationship Skills
  • SEL and Well-being Supports
  • Self-Exploration
  • Cohort Learning Communities
  • 1:1 Coaching & Consulting
  • Direct Model Implementation
  • Professional Development
  • Resource Toolkit

What Makes this Model Innovative?

Whole-Child Focus
nXu’s focus on social-emotional learning and identity impacts students’ development, character, and overall health and well-being.
Relevance
nXu’s model helps young people explore their interests, goals, and career pathways, connect with their communities, and solve real problems in authentic contexts.
Affirmation of Self & Others
Students attain a positive sense of self and purpose as well as a deep respect for the identities of others. These diverse identities are nurtured and leveraged in meaningful ways to support everyone’s learning.

Goals

The Purpose & SEL model has integrated key developmental constructs so that students (and educators) can develop their purpose, invest in their future, and live thriving lives.

Purpose & SEL Competencies

Improved social-emotional competencies and increase in sense of purpose as measured by increase in self-awareness, resilience, and overall sense of purpose.

Identity & Agency

Increase in positive sense of identity and agency as measured by growth in positive identity (racial and ethnic identity measures; occupational identity measures), self-efficacy, and clarity of future goals (including related to career exploration).

Positive Social Behavior

Increase in positive social behavior as measured by an increase in collaboration skills, social awareness, and developmental relationships.

Connectedness

Increase in school connectedness as measured by an increase in general sense of belonging, and school connectedness and engagement.

Experience

nXu’s CASEL-aligned model and curriculum integrate five key developmental areas—purpose, identity, social-emotional wellness, social capital, and career exploration—to engage students (and educators) in defining personal and professional pathways that align with their evolving sense of self. Each lesson strategically integrates these five often disparate constructs so that students—and adults—can live lives aligned with their highest potential.

The model is built around four key themes (each theme includes two modules). 

Identity in Community: Students engage in new groups and experiences with more joy and security. This is because students (and adults) become more purpose-driven in two primary ways: bysharing their stories with others and by coming to know their identities more fully. A secure sense of self and a willingness to share their lives with others supports the creation of spaces where everyone’s identities are affirmed and new connections can flourish. 

Investing in Myself: Students engage in actions that reflect their purpose to invest in the best parts of themselves. This is because purpose is born at the intersection of joys, strengths, and values. Each of these is unique to each individual and, when invested in, infuses their life with meaning and motivation. Practicing self-awareness and intentionally applying their joys and strengths supports building a sense of self-efficacy.

My Role in the Community: Students begin to see the ways they can impact the lives of others. Purpose is driven by a human desire to be of consequence to others. Understanding their own values and connecting them to the values of others invests them in building, expanding, and sustaining their communities. 

Investing in My Community: Students engage in actions that impact the lives of others to grow the confidence that they are capable of building the world they hope to live in. Listening to the needs of those around them, working collaboratively to solve problems, and executing a project in community with others prepare students to have the confidence and skills to drive toward the future.

Purpose to Career: Students gain clarity on the direction their lives, and careers, could take. Their purpose brings to life their joys, strengths, and values so they can discover their unique way of impacting the world, including through their professional pursuits. Deepening their understanding of career fields and learning to make decisions from their purpose set them up for a fulfilling career and a thriving life. 

Investing in My Career: Students pursue a direction that reflects their purpose to find deeper meaning in each step they might take to achieve their goals. Expanding their powerful relationships, hearing the career journeys of other professionals, and planning for important steps along the way (i.e., college and internships) provide them with the resources and perspective to pursue their aims, however far off they might feel at the moment.

Sharing My Purpose: Students are better able to communicate the most important parts of their identity to others. From personal essays, to social media accounts, to resumes, people have many ways to share their purpose, values, and assets with others. With a steady understanding of their purpose, students can intentionally curate their own messages about who they are and what they stand for. 

Investing in My Future: Students pursue a direction that reflects their purpose to be more connected to the sources of resilience that help them weather the challenges they may face. Their purpose provides them with direction—where to invest their time and energy—and drive, or motivation, to overcome obstacles. The communities they build and connect with inspire them with the confidence to engage their purpose and live a thriving life.

Supporting Structures

The model can be integrated into a school’s existing overall model but will require shifts in adult roles and development as well as scheduling to include the Purpose & SEL curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Implementing nXu entails using the model’s robust, existing curriculum, which is shown to support the development of a sense of purpose, identity, and social-emotional growth as well as social capital and career knowledge. 

The Purpose & SEL model is a research-based, purpose development curriculum with deep and valuable insights into how best to develop a sense of purpose in the lives of youth and adults—from ways to foster key mindsets to identifying purpose-specific “teacher moves”—that they have incorporated into their content and resources. 

nXu’s modularized middle and high school curriculum consists of two modules per grade level; each module consists of about 10 lessons. The modularized curriculum allows schools to leverage it in a way that best works for their context. Schools can use the curriculum in different settings and frequencies or even strategically teach select modules that best fit their needs. Each lesson includes a facilitator manual with scripted framing for key parts and transitions to minimize the cognitive load on teachers while also leaving flexibility for teachers to tailor the lesson to their own language. The curriculum also includes student-facing materials, a slide deck that can be used for both in-person or virtual delivery, and a system to track progress along the way. Sample Lesson

nXu’s lessons are structured and organized into the following three core components: 

  • Connect  A ritual at the beginning of each class period, when students have space to individually respond to a series of prompts. This practice helps students draw on previous learning, form and sustain relationships, be present with their social-emotional well-being, and practice vulnerability. 
  • Cultivate – The bulk of each lesson is dedicated to the Cultivate experiences, which engage students in the practices that build toward a greater sense of purpose and develop their SEL competencies. Students are asked to first reflect on and provide an initial reaction or response to the major learning objective for the day. Students then engage in a collaborative, discussion-based activity that is centered around an analysis of a common text, video, or concept. After analyzing and sharing their ideas, students will reflect on how the knowledge they acquired from the day will help them to build upon or inform their purpose journey.
  • Celebrate – All Celebrate activities are defined by gratitude and affirmation and take place at the close of each lesson. These activities build and reinforce an asset-based mindset, a mindset defined by strengths.

Adults must foster their own sense of purpose so they can help students develop theirs.

All educators know that a curriculum on its own cannot move the needle. Through pilots with thousands of students and hundreds of adults, nXu has generated deep and valuable insights for a successful implementation, from fostering key mindsets to identifying purpose-specific “teacher moves.”

nXu trains educators to implement the model with students, and they also offer their purpose development programming for educators to experience themselves. In nXu’s interactive training, educators explore, experience, and learn strategies to foster their own sense of purpose and to help students develop theirs. nXu’s educator programming is designed to generate an increase in sense of purpose, personal identity, belonging, and life/job satisfaction. nXu believes that no person finds purpose in a bubble but rather through an interaction with the needs, ideas, and inspirations of their communities. As a result, educators are encouraged to reflect upon, build, and hone a sense of community within the shared experiences of other nXu educators and within their professional and personal communities. 

In these professional development experiences, attendees: 

  • Learn about research and rationale behind purpose development
  • Learn about and internalize nXu’s methodology and four-part lesson plan framework
  • Receive the training necessary to implement nXu’s Purpose & SEL curriculum
  • Learn about the relevance and importance of purpose development for both youth and adults
  • Learn firsthand how to articulate their own sense of purpose and how to help students do the same
  • Learn how to incorporate nXu’s evidence-based, purpose development methodology and curriculum into their school and classroom
  • Learn best-practice strategies for building and establishing the culture and community necessary for purpose learning
  • Receive concrete instructional tools and resources
  • Plan and practice facilitating purpose learning lessons and activities and receive real-time coaching and feedback
  • Connect with other educators interested in exposing students to purpose development

Educators can also receive ongoing professional development and coaching as well as targeted strategic support with data analysis through nXu’s Purpose Opportunity Program.

nXu’s curriculum is modularized and can be adjusted to fit within many schedules.

nXu’s modularized middle and high school curriculum consists of 2 modules per grade level; each module consists of about 10 lessons. Each lesson is about 50–60 minutes long but is designed to be adaptable and can be shortened or lengthened as needed. The curriculum can be deployed in various ways including over one school year, one semester, or over 4 years (¼ of the curriculum per year). In addition to the different settings and scheduling options the modularized curriculum allows, schools can even strategically teach select modules that best fit their needs. Use Cases

nXu also offers student (and educator) workshops and purpose bootcamps, which offer concentrated versions of nXu’s curriculum.

nXu’s outcome aligned measurement system can support continuous improvement in programming when schools choose to use it.

nXu has developed a codified and validated measurement system that is shared with educators for their use. For adult and student-facing programming that is directly delivered, nXu has participants complete a comprehensive pre- and post-survey, and they analyze that data soon after the program is complete so they can continuously make improvements to the program. After each cycle/season of programming, nXu debriefs the data and programming to inform more robust program and organizational adjustments.

Schools that adopt the nXu model can implement nXu’s outcomes and measurement system to evaluate the effectiveness of their implementation of the model. To measure and track progress, they administer a comprehensive pre- and post-survey.

Implementing nXu entails using the model’s robust, existing curriculum, which is shown to support the development of a sense of purpose, identity, and social-emotional growth as well as social capital and career knowledge. 

The Purpose & SEL model is a research-based, purpose development curriculum with deep and valuable insights into how best to develop a sense of purpose in the lives of youth and adults—from ways to foster key mindsets to identifying purpose-specific “teacher moves”—that they have incorporated into their content and resources. 

nXu’s modularized middle and high school curriculum consists of two modules per grade level; each module consists of about 10 lessons. The modularized curriculum allows schools to leverage it in a way that best works for their context. Schools can use the curriculum in different settings and frequencies or even strategically teach select modules that best fit their needs. Each lesson includes a facilitator manual with scripted framing for key parts and transitions to minimize the cognitive load on teachers while also leaving flexibility for teachers to tailor the lesson to their own language. The curriculum also includes student-facing materials, a slide deck that can be used for both in-person or virtual delivery, and a system to track progress along the way. Sample Lesson

nXu’s lessons are structured and organized into the following three core components: 

  • Connect  A ritual at the beginning of each class period, when students have space to individually respond to a series of prompts. This practice helps students draw on previous learning, form and sustain relationships, be present with their social-emotional well-being, and practice vulnerability. 
  • Cultivate – The bulk of each lesson is dedicated to the Cultivate experiences, which engage students in the practices that build toward a greater sense of purpose and develop their SEL competencies. Students are asked to first reflect on and provide an initial reaction or response to the major learning objective for the day. Students then engage in a collaborative, discussion-based activity that is centered around an analysis of a common text, video, or concept. After analyzing and sharing their ideas, students will reflect on how the knowledge they acquired from the day will help them to build upon or inform their purpose journey.
  • Celebrate – All Celebrate activities are defined by gratitude and affirmation and take place at the close of each lesson. These activities build and reinforce an asset-based mindset, a mindset defined by strengths.

Adults must foster their own sense of purpose so they can help students develop theirs.

All educators know that a curriculum on its own cannot move the needle. Through pilots with thousands of students and hundreds of adults, nXu has generated deep and valuable insights for a successful implementation, from fostering key mindsets to identifying purpose-specific “teacher moves.”

nXu trains educators to implement the model with students, and they also offer their purpose development programming for educators to experience themselves. In nXu’s interactive training, educators explore, experience, and learn strategies to foster their own sense of purpose and to help students develop theirs. nXu’s educator programming is designed to generate an increase in sense of purpose, personal identity, belonging, and life/job satisfaction. nXu believes that no person finds purpose in a bubble but rather through an interaction with the needs, ideas, and inspirations of their communities. As a result, educators are encouraged to reflect upon, build, and hone a sense of community within the shared experiences of other nXu educators and within their professional and personal communities. 

In these professional development experiences, attendees: 

  • Learn about research and rationale behind purpose development
  • Learn about and internalize nXu’s methodology and four-part lesson plan framework
  • Receive the training necessary to implement nXu’s Purpose & SEL curriculum
  • Learn about the relevance and importance of purpose development for both youth and adults
  • Learn firsthand how to articulate their own sense of purpose and how to help students do the same
  • Learn how to incorporate nXu’s evidence-based, purpose development methodology and curriculum into their school and classroom
  • Learn best-practice strategies for building and establishing the culture and community necessary for purpose learning
  • Receive concrete instructional tools and resources
  • Plan and practice facilitating purpose learning lessons and activities and receive real-time coaching and feedback
  • Connect with other educators interested in exposing students to purpose development

Educators can also receive ongoing professional development and coaching as well as targeted strategic support with data analysis through nXu’s Purpose Opportunity Program.

nXu’s curriculum is modularized and can be adjusted to fit within many schedules.

nXu’s modularized middle and high school curriculum consists of 2 modules per grade level; each module consists of about 10 lessons. Each lesson is about 50–60 minutes long but is designed to be adaptable and can be shortened or lengthened as needed. The curriculum can be deployed in various ways including over one school year, one semester, or over 4 years (¼ of the curriculum per year). In addition to the different settings and scheduling options the modularized curriculum allows, schools can even strategically teach select modules that best fit their needs. Use Cases

nXu also offers student (and educator) workshops and purpose bootcamps, which offer concentrated versions of nXu’s curriculum.

nXu’s outcome aligned measurement system can support continuous improvement in programming when schools choose to use it.

nXu has developed a codified and validated measurement system that is shared with educators for their use. For adult and student-facing programming that is directly delivered, nXu has participants complete a comprehensive pre- and post-survey, and they analyze that data soon after the program is complete so they can continuously make improvements to the program. After each cycle/season of programming, nXu debriefs the data and programming to inform more robust program and organizational adjustments.

Schools that adopt the nXu model can implement nXu’s outcomes and measurement system to evaluate the effectiveness of their implementation of the model. To measure and track progress, they administer a comprehensive pre- and post-survey.

Supports Offered

nXu offers the following resources and supports to help you implement the model.

Purpose Opportunity Program (POP)
Cost Associated, Funding Available

nXu’s Purpose Opportunity Program (POP) is a training and support program open to middle and high school educators eager to incorporate an inclusive, culturally affirming purpose and SEL development curriculum with their students. POP provides:

  • Access to tools including the curriculum and research-based assessment system
  • Educator trainings with the dual purpose of ensuring that educators can effectively implement the curriculum, and guiding educators to foster their own sense of purpose and SEL skills
  • Ongoing coaching and implementation support tailored to each school’s needs, including assessing impact
Purpose & SEL Curriculum
Cost Associated, Funding Available

nXu’s comprehensive, CASEL-aligned curriculum equips middle and high school students to navigate their world by cultivating a sense of belonging, strengthening personal and professional identities, fostering empathy and collaboration, building and mobilizing social capital, amplifying resilience, expanding career goals, and engaging in purpose-driven action. The curriculum consists of detailed, lesson-specific facilitator manuals and student resources. nXu also developed a corresponding validated measurement and assessment tool that can help educators evaluate the impact of the curriculum.

Custom Partnership
Cost Associated

nXu will engage in deep partnerships with schools seeking more substantive support incorporating purpose development programming into the fabric of their schools. Each partnership is tailored to meet the unique needs of the partner.

Reach

80
Campuses
21
States

Impact

Students who experience nXu’s curriculum consistently show measurable growth related to their sense of purpose and other key dimensions. 

  • In one comparison group study, students across three cities who experienced nXu’s curriculum over the 2019–2020 school year reported a 10x increase in their sense of purpose compared with the comparison group (nXu Post Programming Survey, 2020).
  • In a separate comparison group study, students in an East Coast charter school who experienced nXu’s in-school curriculum over half a school year (and during COVID and fully remote instruction) reported a 5x increase in their sense of purpose compared to the comparison group. And 100% of the students agreed with the following statement: “I gained skills that will be valuable to my academic and professional future” (nXu Post Programming Survey, 2021).

nXu has also consistently measured the impact of its programming on its educators.

  • Educators in a Chicago charter school who participated in nXu’s educator programming experienced a 15% increase in their sense of purpose (nXu Post Programming Survey, 2019).
  • 93% of educators in the Purpose Opportunity Program’s 2021 cohort said they would recommend nXu to a colleague or friend (nXu Post Programming Survey, 2021).

Contact

Yutaka Tamura
Executive Director