Contact:  Tina Chong

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City Year President selected as distinguished educator on Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Cross-sector initiative designed to advance research-based policy and practice

BOSTON, MA – Nov. 1, 2016 – Jim Balfanz, President of City Year, Inc., which leverages young adults in national service to help students and schools succeed, has been appointed to serve as a Distinguished Educator on a new cross-sector initiative launched by the Aspen Institute. Over the next two years, this new commission will explore how schools can fully integrate social, emotional and academic development to support the whole student and ensure that all of our country’s children have the opportunity to thrive in school, career and life.

In an increasingly complex global economy and society, the U.S. education system - despite the heroic efforts of educators - is struggling to fully prepare students for this future. The National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development unites leaders from the business, education, science, nonprofit, public policy and government sectors to re-envision what constitutes success in today’s public schools. The Commission is charged with making specific recommendations to advance social and emotional development in schools as an intrinsic part of students’ academic and personal growth.

“Our experience in schools has clearly shown that a student’s academic outcomes are directly tied to his or her social and emotional well-being, and that means we need to make sure that all students have access to the data-driven, individualized supports they need to thrive,” said Balfanz. “City Year understands that the formation of positive, developmental relationships with caring adults is foundational to students’ academic and life success.

“I am honored to join the Commission’s Council of Distinguished Educators to help identify the best policies and practices that support the development of the whole child in schools across the country.”

City Year deploys teams of diverse AmeriCorps members to hundreds of high-need urban schools in 28 U.S. cities. City Year’s 3,100 AmeriCorps members partner full-time with teachers to provide high-impact student, classroom and school-wide supports to help students stay on track to graduation and life success. Corps members are trained in an asset-based youth development approach that recognizes and builds on each student’s strengths, enabling the formation of positive developmental relationships with students and the delivery of data-driven integrated academic and social-emotional supports that are proven to help students succeed.

Balfanz received a B.S. from Northeastern University and graduated from Wharton’s Business Executive Management Program. He began his work with City Year as an AmeriCorps member at a Head Start Program in Boston in 1993, after which he joined the staff and has assumed various roles at City Year’s National Headquarters, including Founding Executive Director of City Year Philadelphia in 1997 and Chief Operating Officer. In 2010, Balfanz was appointed President of City Year, steering its continued evolution as a performance-driven organization and leading its participation in the Diplomas Now school improvement model, which received a federal i3 innovation grant. Balfanz is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, and serves on the boards of Mass Insight Education, Eye to Eye, Compass Academy and City Year UK.

For a full list of all the Commissioners and other National Commission team members, visit: or follow the Commission on Twitter @AspenSEAD


City Year is dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide high-impact student, classroom and school-wide supports to help students stay in school and on track to graduate from high school, ready for college and career success. A 2015 study shows that schools that partner with City Year were up to 2-3 times more likely to improve on math and English assessments. A proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network, City Year is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, local school districts, and private philanthropy from corporations, foundations and individuals. Learn more at, City Year’s Facebook page, and on Twitter.