Skill Building Blocks Tools

MHA Labs

The Skill Building Blocks build essential 21st-century skills by focusing on tools and approaches in the context of school, workplace, and community relationships.

What This Includes

Skills addressed: Personal Mindset, Planning for Success, Social Awareness, Verbal Communication, Collaboration, Problem Solving

Skills framework

  • Building blocks organize 35 core social, emotional, and cognitive skills into skill areas


  • Skills checklists for use by educators and employers to aid in assessment, reflection, standards-alignment, and lesson development
  • Feedback templates, tools, and prompts
  • Check-in starters and conversation prompts
  • Templates, cards, signs, and posters to promote Skill Building Blocks in the classroom
  • Certificate of completion template

Instructor guidance

  • Tips for planning and preparation, action and feedback, reflection and improvement
  • Program-planning worksheet for creating your own custom skill-building program

Key Takeaways

  • MHA tools and starter products are designed to inform the creation of curricula or programs, and are adaptable to a variety of contexts.
  • Tools emphasize processes (such as giving and receiving feedback) and skill-building through relationships (where learners apply skills in context, with direct peer or instructor guidance).
  • MHA tools are geared towards youth, but are suitable for any employment, education or community-based setting.
  • MHA Labs is available to engage new partners in a more intensive 5-Step Empowerment Process to align and customize tools for specific program goals.

Since 2012, MHA Labs has formed partnerships with schools, employers, youth development programs, and workforce initiatives. The Skill Building Blocks framework was derived from a 4000-item competency database that incorporated existing educational and employment research studies. Using the database, more than 100 subject-matter experts, educators, coaches, and parents came together to identify six core skill domains and 35 core skills. To ensure cultural equity in the skill, a cultural anthropology and linguist analyzed skills to separate skills from cultural norms. Currently, MHA Labs has a stakeholder pool of more than 400 schools, organizations, and workforce programs.


Critical & Creative Thinking

Leadership & Initiative


Teamwork & Collaboration

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