Building an Evidence Base for Action

Why Whole Child Development?

Poverty is complex and comprehensive strategies are required to address these complexities. Our WCD approach is a proven, cost-effective investment, to ensure the education, health, and prosperity of individual children, and empower their families and communities to be agents of change: 

  • Children’s development happens in different spaces, simultaneously including family, school, and the wider community.
  • The quality of relationships in each of these environments matters.
  • When we invest in multi-sectoral solutions including health, nutrition, education, and protection, we support the holistic development of children.
  • Investment in WCD approaches is critical for children growing up in poverty and other forms of severe adversity. 

Together, we can build environments where all children can reach their potential and become responsible citizens and life-long learners.

Learn more

Who are our partners?

We partner with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations within the community, regional, and national education systems in each country. We look to build long-term partnerships that are characterized by joint learning goals, shared capacity development, and commitment to iterate on programs for children.

Faith-based communities play an important role in the provision of education globally, with enrollment projected to grow rapidly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) over the next decade. Given the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic foundation, the GC-DWC is uniquely positioned to advance faith-based partners’ research and program learning priorities. We are currently supporting Catholic parishes from Haiti to Kenya to embed WCD models of education into schools, homes, and communities. However, we engage with a multi-faith coalition of partners devoted to improving the outcomes for all children, including the Federation of Protestant Schools of Haiti, the Anglican Church in Kenya, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision International, and Arigatou International.  

Where we work

The GC-DWC is involved in 25 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan.

Learn more about our global programs.

Our Team

With team members located all around the world and speaking over 20 languages between them, the GC-DWC's team is a multidisciplinary and diverse group. Most team members have academic as well as practitioner-focused backgrounds which brings a unique perspective to the implementation and evaluation of Whole Child Development research and programming. 

Meet the Team


The Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, based at the University of Notre Dame, collaborates with researchers and practitioners to ensure the wellbeing—physical, emotional, social, and cognitive—of children and adolescents in low-resource and conflict-affected settings. Established to serve as a coherent platform for the Institute for Educational Initiative’s growing portfolio of global child development and learning programs, GC-DWC creates environments that foster resilience and encourage children and adolescents to thrive. Using an innovative whole child development approach tailored to context-specific needs, GC-DWC translates research into timely and thoughtful action, adapts research tools to improve the development of learning programs and policies, and activates systems (families, schools, communities) to lift children and adolescents out of adversity. Specializing in a holistic approach to child and adolescent development, GC-DWC’s dedicated team combines innovative research and measurement methods in addition to global collaborations, to assess and address risks and assets at the child-level in order to create environments that go beyond simply fulfilling children and adolescent’s basic needs.

We are always looking for Graduate Research Assistants to engage in a variety of research and program development projects. If you are interested in working with us, please complete the form below and reach out to Hannah Chandler ( with any questions.

Graduate Research Assistant Interest Form

Neil Boothby

Childhoods & Education in the Global South: A Research and Program Learning Practicum

In the Fall semester, GC-DWC Founding Director, Neil Boothby, taught Childhoods & Education in the Global South: A Research and Program Learning Practicum. The course sought to provide students with an evidence-based framework and skillset to implement whole child development education programs in low income contexts.


Visit our Student Corner to learn more.


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