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MODULE 2: Ashley Williams, Clymb
Education, Social and Emotional Learning


Students and teachers nationwide are returning to post-Covid classrooms with historically elevated levels of stress and anxiety. Addressing this modern crisis in mental health can be a challenge in under-invested communities with teachers who are often ill-prepared to address the social and emotional wellness of their students and themselves. The goals of this module are for students to apply prerequisite knowledge and skills to understand the relationship between community and education investment and health outcomes for children and families. Students should also reflect upon their role as human-centered investors prepared to engage community based companies and entrepreneurs as an empathetic ally in this work. Ashley Williams drew her experiences as a Baltimore City School teacher to found her company, Infinite Focus Schools as an online tool to help the social and emotional growth of students and teachers.  Her company has recently rebranded to Clymb.

Behavioral Objectives

After completing this module students should be able to…

  1. Understand the factors that have contributed to the historic decline in post-pandemic mental health for students and teachers

  2. Understand the cumulative impact of historical trauma experienced by students and teachers in Baltimore City schools.

  3. Identify the unmet social and emotional needs that many teachers and students from urban, suburban, and rural schools still experience and the impact they have on their ability to learn and teach.

  4. Compare and contrast the economic opportunities and long-term benefits that historically biased and racist mechanisms for providing access to capital have created for White and Black women entrepreneurs

  5. Identify the economic and non-economic metrics that could be used to evaluate the efficacy and outcomes  of the Infinite Focus Schools model of social and emotional learning on students, teachers, and communities. 

  6. Describe the benefits of using a human centered design process that allows teachers and students to impact the trajectory of Infinite Focus Schools and the mechanism by which they deliver social and emotional support content.  

  7. Describe the reflection and work necessary to insure that you are prepared to make the  most equitable and impactful types of investments for Black founders that are creating inclusive models of civic wealth creation.

Interview with Ashley Williams, founder of Clymb
(formerly Infinite Focus Schools)

Suggested Questions, Activities, Assignments, and Reflections

  1. Reflect on your experience as an elementary and middle school student.  What are the differences between the classrooms and schools that you attended compared to the schools depicted in the video and in the readings about schools in redlined communities?  What were the challenges and supports in the schools that you and your peers attended? How did those supports impact the choices available to you for high school and/or college?

  2. Reflect on your role as a potential investor in Black entrepreneurs and companies addressing education, historic trauma, or social and emotional learning.  What types of economic and non-economic“ investments” might be the most impactful for these entrepreneurs to start and scale their companies?  What work, research, or practical experiences could you engage in that would prepare you to be an empathetic and equitable investor in a Black entrepreneur’s company?  How would you know you had begun to do the right types of work?

  • Use a validated index like the Baltimore Neighborhood Index Alliance to determine  the economic and non-economic metrics that would indicate that an investment in a company that addressed social and emotional learning or supports for historic trauma were creating both economic and social/community wealth?

  1. How has the disparate access to mortgages and home ownership education, and healthcare influence/contribute the number of Black children coping with historic trauma?

  2. Compare and contrast the ways that that the COVID-19 crisis has inflicted short term trauma on children in suburban, urban, and rural communities.

  3. Compare and contrast the impact of historic vs. short term trauma on children and families in redlined communities. How does trauma impact their ability to learn in school?

  4. Look at strategies and resources; how do systemic anti-black practices influence access to mental health treatment.


  1. L.T. Brown. The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD. 2021. Tracks 3, 4, 5 pp 64-178

  2. Baltimore Business Journal. In West Baltimore, two Black women developers take novel approaches to tackle blight. March 22, 2021

  3. “Valerie Wilson on the economic inequality gap for African Americans,” Washington Journal, C-SPAN, 03-Mar-2018.

  4. O. Kerner, “1968 Kerner Commission Report,” 1968.

  5. M. A. Turner and F. Skidmore, Eds., Mortgage lending discrimination: A review of existing evidence. The Urban Institute, 1999.

  6. “Housing segregation and redlining in America: A short history | Code Switch | NPR,” 11-Apr-2018. [Online]. Available: v=O5FBJyqfoLM. [Accessed: 30-Jul-2021].

  7. Maryland Historical Society: History of Housing Discrimination and Redlining in Baltimore.

  8. The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic June 15, 2014 https://

  9. Broadwater, Luke. “Wells Fargo Agrees to Pay $175M Settlement in Pricing Discrimination Suit.”, 10 Dec. 2018, xpm-2012-07-12-bs-md-ci-wells-fargo-20120712-story.html.

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