Eric Schaps (1942–2021) served as founder and president from 1980 to 2011 of the nonprofit Developmental Studies Center (DSC), the organization which in 2015 merged with Cornerstone Literacy, Inc. (CLI) to become the nonprofit Center for the Collaborative Classroom.
As founder and president of DSC, Dr. Schaps conceptualized and led its mission to create, evaluate, and disseminate school and afterschool-based programs designed to help children develop academically, socially, emotionally, and ethically in safe and caring classroom communities.
Through his leadership in developing the first comprehensive, systemwide social-emotional learning program, he was able to document and demonstrate the gains children make when schools address academics hand-in-hand with social and emotional development. DSC’s award-winning, evidence-based programs came to be used in thousands of classrooms across the country.
His ground-breaking research, along with his creation of innovative social development and prevention programs, provided the foundation for the growth and expansion of mental health, social-emotional, and character education programs across the country.
Dr. Schaps was the author or co-author of three books plus 80 book chapters, journal articles, and commentaries. He was principal investigator on government and foundation grants totaling nearly $90,000,000. He received several professional awards, including the Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education from the Character Education Partnership.
Following his retirement from DSC in 2011 and until 2018, he worked as an Executive Consultant to urban school districts on behalf of the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), much of that work with the Metro Nashville Public School district in Tennessee.
Dr. Schaps attended Northwestern University as an undergraduate, Penn State for a master’s degree, and Northwestern again where he earned a PhD in social psychology.