We created Millennium.org to fill a distressing gap that we see in our society and reflected in our education system. For decades, developmental science has stressed the importance of an individual’s character, self-awareness and social-emotional skillset to their future success and well-being. Over those same years, however, our system of education has moved in the opposite direction - focusing on an increasingly narrow set of academic subjects and tests. Simply put - our educational system is currently out of balance in addressing the requirements for whole-student development.
1. Teachers Define SEL as "the Missing Piece"*
87% - believe SEL would increase student workforce readiness and life success
80% - believe SEL provides a major benefit to students’ ability to graduate
77% - believe SEL development in school would improve academic success
75% - believe SEL training reduces bullying and improves behavioral issues
82% - want more SEL training each year
only 23% - receive some form of in-service SEL training
2. Teachers at High-Poverty Schools are Especially Convinced SEL Could Address Their Largest School Problems*
76% - Students’ lack of interest in learning
67% - Poor student behavior in class
47% - Bullying
3. U.S Employers Say Students do not have the SEL Skills Required for the Real World*
70% - of high school graduates are considered deficient in work ethic
70% - are deficient in critical thinking and problem solving skills
40% - of US employers report shortage in qualified talent (ManpowerGroup)
*source: "The Missing Piece: A National Teacher Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Empower Children and Transform Schools"; A report for CASEL 2014
The Cost of Not Teaching Social Emotional Learning in Schools
We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a cost for this dissonance between what we know is good for students and their actual experience in schools - a cost both on the students and on society as a whole.
Increased mental health issues in young adults (There's a Startling Increase in Major Depression Among Teens in the U.S., Time Magazine, Nov. 2016; citing Ramin Mojtabai, Mark Olfson, Beth Han (2016). “National Trends in the Prevalence and Treatment of Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults,” published in Pediatrics)
Teachers report among the highest levels of occupational stress leading to “burn-out,” and increased turnover, which negatively impacts student academic performance (Greenberg, M. T., Brown J. L., Abenavoli, R.M. (2016). “Teacher Stress and Health: Effects on Teachers, Students, and Schools.” Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University)
A growing skills gap with employers unable to hire qualified employees with the judgment and soft-skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce (Why Social and Emotional Learning and Employability Skills Should Be Prioritized in Education, Committee for Children and CASEL 2016)
By introducing a consistent structure and process for whole-teacher and whole-student development within the existing environment of schools, Millennium seeks to develop a new generation equipped with the tools they need to face the broader challenges of a changing world.
Millennium was founded to support this vision for education by impacting three key areas of need:
1. Teacher Stress Management & Wellbeing - Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations, often linked to its social-emotional demands, and lack of training, support, and peer collaboration.
2. SEL Professional Development – 4 of 5 teachers want more support to address students’ social and emotional development, and 4 of 5 teacher preparation programs are considered “weak”.
3. Whole-Student Development – We define education for the 21st century as education for the whole child, including cultivating cognitive, social, emotional, creative and spiritual domains.
Translating Developmental Research into Practice
Millennium integrates proven methodologies in mindfulness and social-emotional development into practical instructional tools and training for teachers. We explore the application of this research within our own lab school, within our public school partners, and across a national network of Educator Forums. The result is a living laboratory environment of schools and educators collaborating to apply, assess, and adapt techniques for fostering human well-being. Our work is grounded in empirical research, and the fundamental belief that developing the whole child begins with supporting the whole teacher. We provide professional development and coaching along with the tools and resources that teachers need to cultivate their own SEL skills in order to better support their students.
We understand the pressure that teachers face each day, and that they can't make this kind of personal impact through traditional instructional delivery. So, we've developed the Millennium Forum model: structured, peer-to-peer circles that meet regularly to support each other and their own development. Trained Peer-Guides moderate the circles through a process that enables dialogue, allows space for self-discovery, practices healthy conflict resolution, and introduces other social-emotional development skills. Our hope is that teachers embody this way of being and feel confident to in turn boldly bring Forum and these techniques into their own classrooms.
Millennium was founded as a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization in June 2015. Its mission is to serve as a research and development initiative whose central aim is to translate leading developmental science into practical methods and educator training that can be shared broadly. Working together, we hope to address the rising issues of anxiety in mental health by cultivating conscious well-being in educators and their students across the U.S.
Millennium's first program, an adolescent lab school, opened in San Francisco in Fall 2016. It has grown into a thriving 6-8th grade middle school with around 90 students. In addition to a number of innovative learning designs, the school's advisory program connects students and teachers in a particular small circle format called Forum. Forum quickly established itself as the heart of the culture, and an effective vehicle for introducing human-centered education techniques.
In the Fall of 2017 Millennium began partnering with San Francisco Public Schools (SFUSD) to train teachers on Millennium’s Forum method. Preliminary research on the public school program was positive, indicating the potential to reduce anxiety, improve educators’ personal well-being, and strengthen their social-emotional competence. By Spring of 2018 Millennium was implementing Forum to public school students as well as educators, and received strong demand for broader implementation.
In the Fall of 2018 Millennium began piloting a national roll-out of its Forum method, providing a guided online service to a community of 50 educators in states and districts across the United States. Educators meet regularly to connect, coach, and practice with each other. We articulated our hypothesis that an improvement in embodied well-being by educators will translate directly into higher relational trust with students, and improved student well-being and academic outcomes.
In June of 2019, Millennium School celebrated its third year of operations and the graduation of its first 8th grade class. We could not be more excited about these amazing young students and their potential as change-makers for good in the world. Preliminary Forum research continued to indicate the potential for positive increases in educator well-being across multiple scales.
In the Fall of 2019, Millennium will expand its partnership with SFUSD to begin Forum implementation and measurement at three public middle schools, while the online Educator Forum Community pilots its first year of Peer-Coaches.
Who We Are
Millennium.org is fortunate to work with a talented and diverse community of allies and advisors from academia, education, and business to support its mission of advancing a conscious worldview through human-centered education. While each advisor brings his and her unique expertise to our effort, together they share a commitment to promoting human well-being through social and emotional development. We would like to thank them all for their continued time, wisdom and support.
Jeff Snipes*, Co-Founder & Chairman
Jeff serves as the organization’s Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO. He leads the strategic vision and coordinates Millennium’s three program areas: lab school, research & development, and professional development. Jeff is active in the national movement for improving well-being in education, and has served as an advisor to Mindful Schools, The Learning for Well-being Foundation, The Collaborative for Spirituality in Education, Education Superhighway, Challenge Success, and the San Francisco Public School District. Over the past twenty-five years he has led several education-related organizations and facilitated scores of leadership circles and retreats.
Previously Jeff spent 16 years leading one of the largest corporate leadership development companies in the U.S. prior to its sale to Korn Ferry in December 2012. He served as Co-Founder and CEO of Ninth House for 12 years, building an online/blended learning platform with a faculty that included Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, and Tom Peters among others. Jeff was named a “Top 25 US Leadership Advisor” and “CEO of the Year” by the American Business Association. Along the way, Jeff served as Board President at Marin Montessori School, where he helped launch a model land-based junior high program. That experience, along with parenting his own three children, inspired him to spend the second half of his career helping others develop a broader, more conscious definition of success.
margaret golden, Ed.d, forum program director
Margaret joined Millennium in the Summer of 2018 and leads its professional development program, Forum. Since 2005, Margaret has been a facilitator for the Center for Courage and Renewal and has recently been directing their “Leading Together” Program for Educators. During that time, she worked closely with Parker J. Palmer to bring his wisdom into educational and certification programs (“Courage to Teach” and Courage to Lead") for coaches and educators around the world. Margaret is a Professor Emerita of Education and Director of the Courage to Teach program at Dominican University, where she has actively pursued her passion for educational equity and the study of social-emotional development and spirituality in children and adults. Margaret received both a Masters in Educational Administration, and a EdD in Educational Psychology from UC Berkeley.
todd holcomb, M.ED, JD - chief knowledge & Experience officer
Todd joined Millennium in the Summer of 2019 to lead the coordination of developmental experiences and creative direction across Millennium programs. Most recently, Todd served as Executive Vice President at the Future Project, where he pioneered new thinking, tools, and experiences in regard to purpose development, intentional self-regulation, belief systems, relational networks, and self-directed learning. Todd previously developed leading-edge strategy and curriculum in schools on the fore-front of pursuing purpose, potential and well-being, like Avenues the World School in New York and Marin Montessori Jr High. Todd has consulted with leadership teams at some of the world's leading companies such as IBM, Brand Jordan, and Starbucks, and led organizations focused wholly on his mission to unlock human potential. He holds a Masters in Education from Bank Street in New York, a J.D. from Santa Clara School of Law, and an undergraduate degree in the sciences of engineering and systems thinking.
Chris Balme, co-founder and head of millennium school
Chris serves as Co-Founder and Head of School for Millennium’s adolescent lab school. He is an educator and social entrepreneur at heart, passionate about creating organizations that help students reach their full potential. Previously, Chris was Co-Founder and CEO of Spark, a national non-profit he built over 10 years to improve student success in middle and high school. Spark placed students in apprenticeship programs in organizations ranging from Google to city government, and earned widespread recognition for its ability to motivate students to succeed in school and beyond. Chris has received the Ashoka Fellowship, the Draper Richards Fellowship for social entrepreneurship, as well as the Bay Area Jefferson Award for Public Service. Chris earned degrees in Psychology and Business from the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton, and has taught with Breakthrough Collaborative and in the Philadelphia public schools.
Daniel Rechtschaffen, MFT - Director of mindful education
Daniel is one of the premier leaders in field of mindful education in the US. He is author of “The Way of Mindful Education” and “The Mindful Education Workbook”. He is the founding director of Mindful Education, which hosts online courses, consulting, and the largest annual conference on mindfulness for educators. He is a co-founder of the year-long Transformative Educational Leadership program with Linda Lantieri and featuring Dan Siegel, Daniel Goleman and others. Daniel is an active partner with Millennium, advising on curriculum design, moderating Forums, training other moderators, coordinating partners, and guiding Forum distribution through his network of 7,000 mindful educators.
Board, advisors and Research partners
CASEL, Healthy Minds Innovations, and George Lucas Education Foundation Boards of Directors
Past Commissioner, US Technology & Innovation; Founding CTO, Pixar, Disney Chief Innovation Officer
Sr. Learning Policy Institute, Stanford Graduate School of Education; Associate Scientist, University of Wisconsin.
Assoc. Professor of Education, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning, UVA
Asst Professor of Psychology, Columbia; CASEL Sr. Program Advisor; Director, Inner Resilience Program
Co-Founder, Challenge Success; Adolescence & Family Systems Psychologist; NYT Best-selling Author
Founder & CEO, Education Superhighway, SF Visionary of the Year 2015, Past Board Chair of Burke School, SF
Professor of Psychology & Education, Columbia; Founder, Spirituality Mind Body Institute
CEO GSV Acceleration LLC; Past Board Chicago Public Schools, Common Ground, Teach for America
Professor of Human Development, Learning & Culture, University of British Columbia; CASEL Board
Executive Director, Mindful Schools; Past President, San Francisco Zen Center
Asst Professor of Neurology, UCSF; Education Director, Neuroscape; Founder, Institute for Applied Neuroscience
Sr. Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Education; Co-Founder of Challenge Success
President, Association for Transpersonal Psychology; President, Association for Humanistic Psychology.
Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, School of Consciousness & Transformation, CIIS
CEO, Strategic Growth Partners; Past CEO of Aspire Public Schools and Principal at New Schools Ventures
* Board of Trustees **Trustee Emeritus