Looking back at our work – with Roots of Empathy

"In 2016, Roots of Empathy celebrates its 20th anniversary. We started in Canada and are now in ten countries and have reached almost 800,000 children. We are an evidence-based school program that has shown significant effect in reducing the levels of aggression among elementary school children by raising social and emotional competence and increasing empathy."

Interview with Mary Gordon, Founder and President of Roots of Empathy

“At the heart of the program is a neighborhood parent and baby who visit the classroom over the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy instructor guides children as they observe the relationship between the baby and his or her parent. In the program, the baby is the ‘teacher’. Children learn to understand the perspective of the baby and label the baby’s feelings, and then are guided in extending this learning outwards so they have a better understanding of their own feelings and the feelings of others. This emotional literacy lays the foundation for safer and more caring classrooms, where children are ‘Changers’.

They are more socially and emotionally competent and much more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice. We have been in Switzerland since 2014 and were enthusiastic to partner with the Optimus Foundation’s Child Protection team in Zurich as they were highly effective cultural mediators and translators. And, because they are experts in child protection, they brought us together with people who very quickly helped us understand the local context in Zurich. UBS helps its clients make calculated strategic investments, and this is true in its philanthropy as well. We have been delighted in how the partnership has developed beyond the normal funder/grantee relationship. The Foundation’s expertise, and the singularity of purpose we share with our designated Portfolio Director, is exceptional. They genuinely understand the program, the scale of what we are trying to achieve and the challenges we face in our work. Their generosity of spirit, encouragement and advice makes all the difference.”

About Roots of Empathy:

Roots of Empathy is an award-winning charitable organization that offers empathy- based programming for children. Its programs have shown dramatic effects in reducing levels of aggression among children while raising their social and emotional competence and increasing empathy.

(This interview was first published in our Annual Review)