About Us

Hallways has been working with New York City independent schools for over 30 years. During that time, we have grown and evolved along with best practices in the field of substance use prevention - and today we offer comprehensive, research-based social-emotional programs for middle and upper school youth, and capacity building workshops for K-12 parents and educators.

Our Mission

Hallways partners with students, parents, and educators to prevent high-risk behaviors and promote social-emotional wellbeing in high-achieving school communities.

Because young people in these communities are part of an unrecognized, at-risk population, we seek to engage and educate school communities about ways to elevate young people's social-emotional needs and capacities. We aim to identify and address the specific risk and protective factors facing young people in high-achieving, elite school settings in order to help them develop into healthy, caring, connected adults.


Our Vision

Hallways envisions a future in which students in independent school communities:

  • Develop skills for healthy coping, courageous decision making and empathetic relationships across difference
  • Understand their self-worth is rooted in who they are and not what they accomplish;
  • Prioritize their own social-emotional well-being and that of others;
  • Analyze social norms and interrupt harmful patterns of thought and behavior;
  • Feel supported by adults in navigating the unique challenges of growing up in high-achieving, affluent school cultures.

Our Approach

Hallways utilizes the findings of youth development research in combination with the insight gleaned from our 30 years of experience in the independent schools in New York City to develop customized prevention and social-emotional wellness programming for school communities. Through our work, we hear firsthand about the realities young people face today and we continually refine our work to best respond to their needs.

Hallways identifies the areas where young people need support, shares feedback and findings about risk and protective factors with educators and parents, and teaches students skills that promote their wellbeing and reduce their likelihood of engaging in substance use and other risky behaviors.

We draw from two bodies of research: strategic prevention research, which we rely on for guidance about what works to prevent risky behaviors for youth; and the growing field of research on youth growing up in affluent cultures.

Best practices within prevention research tell us that programs that emphasize scare tactics, facts and statistics, and cautionary tales are ineffective because they do not address the underlying stressors and cultural messages that motivate risky behaviors. Whether we are looking at substance use, microaggressions and harassment, or anxiety and perfectionism, research shows that in order to prevent risky and destructive behaviors, we need to address harmful norms and attitudes and foster social and emotional health within individuals and their communities.

Research on substance use and other high-risk behaviors has established that young people growing up in the culture of affluence face a significant amount of pressure to be successful, and that the stress caused by this pressure (especially when coupled with more unsupervised time, increased access to drugs and alcohol, and rigid gender norms) puts these young people at a heightened level of risk for negative behaviors and mental health outcomes.

Our Team


Rachel Henes, LMSW



Natalie Zuckerman, EdM

Assistant Director


Sarah Zlotowitz, LMSW

Program Manager, School Relations
and Curriculum Development


Sarah Díaz, MSW

Research and Communications Coordinator


A. Jordan Wright, PhD, ABAP

Consulting Psychologist

After 30 years of serving the Independent School community in the New York City area, the board of Freedom Institute has reached the difficult decision to close Hallways and thereby end the organization's prevention programming due to its financial unsustainability. 


Hallways’ accomplishments are community accomplishments. Thank you to our many partner schools for their years of investment and dedication to our important work. Thank you to all the parents and community partners who have attended our talks, hosted events, and advocated for social-emotional learning in your schools. Thank you to the students, who showed up with vulnerability in our workshops and allowed us to learn and grow from sharing their realities with us. And finally, thank you to the Hallways team members, past and present, for all the passion, humor, thoughtfulness, and creativity you have all brought over the years. 


We are thrilled to continue the sale of  From the Inside Out: The Hallways Handbook For Raising Emotionally Healthy Adolescents

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