A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

The Partnership for Family Involvement in Education - Who We Are and What We Do, April 2000

Partners work in two areas to make education a priority in America. They increase opportunities for families to be more involved in their children's education both at home and at school and they promote children's learning and achievement. Following are model efforts of partners all across the country to accomplish these goals.

To Increase Opportunities for Families to Be More Involved in Their Children's Education Both at Home and at School:

Partners give parents the resources, training, and information they need to help children learn
item: The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) operates a Parent University under its Division of Career and Family Services. LACOE's Parent's University provides materials, programs and services in English and Spanish for parents of children in all schools across Los Angeles County on topics such as effective parenting skills, parent-school partnerships, educational technology and helping children learn to read. The Parent University also places a strong emphasis on family literacy. LACOE comprises 81 elementary and secondary (K - 12) school districts, 100,000 full-time teachers and support staff, and 1.5 million students—more than one-fourth of all the students in California.
item: At the Attenville Elementary School (Pre-K—Grade 6) in Harts, West Virginia, Telephone Tree Volunteers contact over 20 parents per month to discuss issues concerning their children's education and follow up with personal visits. Parent workshops take place seven times per year to address topics ranging from homework help to language development. Each day, 8 - 10 parent volunteers read with students at lunch, run after-school tutoring sessions, attend staff development sessions, and make site visits to other schools. Parent volunteer hours rose at the rate of 1,000 hours per year for five years. In one year, almost one-half of all parents participated in the annual volunteer training.
item: In the Buffalo New York Public Schools, computer literacy is stressed in weekly classes after school for students and parents. Bus service and child care are provided to encourage the participation of the entire family. Some 140 computers are available for take-home instruction for those who cannot take the at-school courses. A recent survey found that 44 percent of parents reported the program had a "significant" effect on their child's motivation toward learning. All parents reported noticeable or significant improvements in their child's math and reading scores.
item: The Department together with the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education recently cosponsored with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a nationwide telecast on involving fathers in children's learning. The two-hour broadcast, titled Fathers Matter!, was co-hosted by the secretaries of both agencies and featured examples of effective practice. The examples highlighted how schools, employers and community organizations are supporting training programs, professional development efforts, and activities that promote the participation of fathers and father-figures in their children's education. The broadcast videotape is being made available together with a discussion guide as a tool for professional development
item: The Illinois Fatherhood Initiative (IFI) is the country's first statewide non-profit volunteer fatherhood organization. Founded in 1997, IFI connects children and fathers by promoting responsible fathering and helping equip men to become better fathers and father figures. Through its volunteer board of directors and board of advisors, IFI creates strategic partnerships with private and non-profit organizations. Its activities include the Illinois Father-of-the-Year Essay Contest (over 140,000 school-aged children have submitted essays during the past three years) on the theme, "What My Father Means to Me"; a Me & My Dad Essay booklet that includes essays, artwork, and a six-part curriculum focused on child-father issues; the Faces Of Fatherhood Calender; the Illinois Fathers' Resource Guide; a quarterly newsletter; and a Boot Camp for New Dads (a hospital-based program which brings together first-time dads with soon-to-be first-time dads to help them make the transition to fathering).

Partners strengthen family-school partnerships by helping to develop communication and mutual responsibility for children's learning
item: The Maryland State Department of Education has joined forces with Comcast Cablevision, McDonalds Family Restaurants, the Maryland Congress of PTA's, and other corporations to launch the Family Focus campaign. School grants from sponsors will 1) enhance parent-teacher interactions; 2) encourage proper learning habits at home; and 3) guide parents in setting expectations for achievement. The Family Focus Advisory Council will advise the State Superintendent on important initiatives, issues and education policy. Maryland's partnership effort was launched with an annual commitment of Comcast Cablevision to $2 million in parent involvement messages, PSA's and news stories. For it's part, McDonalds will provide parent suggestion boxes in McDonalds restaurants and will fund incentive grants to create or enhance programs which involve parents or make the school more family-friendly.
item: In Jackson, Tennessee, 23 churches have designed a tutoring program in cooperation with the local school system to serve children residing in public housing. Three nights a week church buses provide transportation to church facilities where 250 volunteers work with 350 children, providing assistance in reading and math. Through an incentive program, parents and children can earn coupons toward the payment of housing, by attending tutoring sessions and participating in parent-teacher conferences at the schools.
item: The Bay Area Partnership, working across seven counties in the San Francisco Bay area California, is a public-private coalition of government, business, community, philanthropic, and service leaders. The partnership works to mobilize resources for schools and families and encourages collaboration between funders and policy makers.
item: The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has launched a partnership to support the "Gift of Reading" holiday book drive. Individuals or organizations can make a monetary contribution or donate new or used books appropriate for preschool, elementary and high school students. Books can be dropped off at designated collection sites across the Chicago metropolitan area. CHA has set a goal of collecting 100,000 books, so that each child living in a CHA facility can receive three books. CHA emphasizes reading as the gateway to learning and is working with parents and with the Chicago Public Schools system to strengthen student academic achievement.
item: The Newport News Education Foundation and the Newport News Public Schools Virginia, hold a business-education summit that brings together local stakeholders to support family involvement in education. The summit provides an opportunity for employers, educators, community college officials and community leaders to discuss how business and schools may best work together to help third-through-eighth graders succeed in school. With family involvement as a key strategy, the summit participants strive to help students achieve in school, to introduce them to career and work options, and to ease the transition to college or additional training. Summit participants identify ways mentors and role models from business and industry can be utilized in local schools. Scholarships and programs that can assist students with their college plans are discussed and shared.
item: Communities in Schools (CIS) works in more than 150 communities in 38 states to surround young people with a community of tutors, mentors, health care providers, and career counselors. For more than 25 years, CIS has provided stay-in-school solutions at school sites by showing communities how they can coordinate their public, private and nonprofit resources so youths can get the help they need where they need it--in the public schools. CIS provides community champions--privately supported independent teams--whose sole mission is to rally community support for children and broker services in the schools.
item: The IBM Corporation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District North Carolina, have developed a community partnership, which encourages increased parental participation in children's education. By providing state-of-the-art technology equipment, the partnership has increased home-school communication via electronic mail. E-mail allows families to check homework assignments, review work completed by the children, as well as monitor a child's overall progress. Families who don't have computers at home can use school computer labs, which are open days, evenings, and weekends. Computers are also available at neighborhood sites, such as libraries or public housing projects. IBM provides training on using the computer equipment.
item: Over a three-year period, the US WEST Foundation's Widening Our World (WOW) Program has dedicated $150 million to educational technology outreach and support. According to the corporation, this commitment will benefit more than six million students in 20,000 schools. The US WEST Foundation has implemented a variety of programs to reach communities across the West. Their "Adopt a Classroom" program provides financial support, technological training and grant information, as well as "cyber mentors," to teachers and students in the classroom. The "Teacher Network" program creates a space in which teachers can exchange ideas and curriculum materials. In cooperation with the National Education Association and its local affiliates, local school districts, and state departments of education, US WEST also uses this network to train teachers to use online computer services.
item: Memphis City Schools Tennessee have implemented an Adopt-A-School partnership with local employers, community groups, and faith-based organizations. Launched in 1979, Adopt-A-School has more than 500 employer participants, including FedEx, Coca-Cola and First Tennessee Bank, with employees serving as mentors at local schools. Key emphases of the Adopt-A-School program include supporting family involvement in education, increasing the number of students graduating from high school, keeping students safe and drug-free, and helping all students get on track for college and workforce preparation. Employees volunteer in local schools and also mentor students. Students and teachers visit business partners on site to learn more about the kinds of skills and knowledge required by employers today.

To Promote Children's Learning and Achievement:

Partners help children read well and independently
item: America Reads Challenge, a community reading program, has called on all Americans to support teachers and help ensure that every child can read well and independently by the end of the third grade. During the summer and throughout the school year, community coalitions in every state have answered this challenge. These sites match reading partners--college and high school students, community volunteers, parents, senior citizens--with young children to read together and do activities that build literacy skills and to encourage children to read for at least 20 minutes every day.
item: Pizza Hut Corporation founded the BOOK IT!™ National Reading Incentive Program, which encourages children nationwide to read, and rewards them for their reading efforts. The program has been expanded to inspire children to read during the summer, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education's initiative READ*WRITE*NOW! Children who participate are encouraged to read 30 minutes a day during the summer months and with a reading partner (adult or teenager) at least once or twice a week, learn a new vocabulary word a day, and obtain and use a library card.
item: The National Jewish Coalition for Literacy has pledged to recruit 100,000 volunteers over five years in response to the America Reads Challenge. In most instances, the coalition works with existing literacy programs to support ongoing efforts, although in a few communities it has started new partnerships. The Coalition has 27 affiliates in cities as diverse as Boston (Massachusets), Hartford (Conneticut), Louisville (Kentucky), Atlanta (Georgia), and Seattle (Washington).

Partners support learning right from the beginning of the school year...and beyond
item: America Goes Back to School: During the months of August through October, Americans across the country go back to school to share their talents and experiences. A growing number of citizen-volunteers make a yearlong commitment, starting in the fall, to help improve education and to help students learn.
item: Hemmings Motor News encourages and supports all parents, teachers, students and employers to sponsor First Day of School programs. These programs, which declare the first day of school a "holiday," promote parent involvement in education by allowing working parents time (paid or unpaid) to meet teachers and support their children as they start a new school year. Beginning in 1997 with 11 schools in southwest Vermont, by September 1999, community employers and parents in 376 schools in 35 states were participating in First Day of School programs.
item: At Ferguson Elementary School (Pre-K—5) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, teacher-directed community workshops are held up to six Saturdays per year to focus on the needs of students at different levels. A two-day open house is part of Make a Difference Conference for parents. Staff and students travel door-to-door inviting parents to this event. As a result of these efforts, 50 parents volunteer as classroom aides each week. In three years, reading-on-grade levels went from 5 percent to 37 percent for first-graders, while discipline referrals were cut in half and attendance went from 80 percent to 90 percent.

Partners turn around student achievement in mathematics and science
item: AMERICA COUNTS is mobilizing volunteer tutors and mentors across the country to provide students with personal attention and additional learning opportunities they need to boost their achievement. College and university students (through a Federal Work-Study [FWS] effort) provide services, at little or no cost, to schools, community centers, after-school programs, and other non-profit entities. Resources available to help tutoring initiatives get underway include:

  1. The America Counts Tutoring Roadmap, an online guide to establishing high-quality math tutoring programs that provides information about key program components as well as tutoring materials; and
  2. Yes,You Can, a guide to help schools, higher education institutions and other organizations establish high-quality mentoring programs. Many of the guide's examples focus on mathematics and science.
item: The Formula for Success: A Business Leader's Guide, promotes involvement strategies for business leaders, encouraging them to actively participate in improving mathematics and science achievement in schools.
item: Manchester, New Hampshire, saved $72,692 over a period of three years because students, participating in the Y.O.U. after-school program, avoided being retained in grade and being placed in special education. In addition to reading improvement, the percentage of students scoring at the basic level in math increased from 29 percent to almost 60 percent.
item: The ASPIRA Math and Science (MAS) Academy was created to improve the low representation and achievement rates of Latinos in math and science. Since 1995, the MAS Academy has served hundreds of students and parents in Miami and Chicago. Throughout the year, after-school and during the summer activities include tutoring, field trips, counseling, family involvement activities, hands-on math and science activities, and other support activities. At the centers, students have opportunities to perform these hands-on science and math activities with teachers or college tutors; additional enrichment opportunities come through visits to scientific institutions, audiovisual and print materials, and interaction and career exploration with Latino scientists, mathematicians, engineers and other technology specialists.

Partners keep kids safe and smart before, during, and after school
item: 21st Century Community Learning Centers is a grants program that promotes access and support to before- and after-school planned activities to expand learning opportunities for children in safe and drug-free environments. Additional technical assistance is provided through related forums and guides. During the first year at the center developed in Seneca, Missouri, after-school providers offered activities that school day staff aligned with state standards and goals and incorporated additional learning opportunities in the classroom. Following a program assessment, teachers plan to link state learning standards to school day curriculum and coordinate with after-school providers to build an integrated school day after-school curriculum to reach specific goals. The program is also developing a tracking system that will allow the center to enter and track activities, skills acquired, state goals, and different aspects of student achievement.
item: The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, associated with Community Schools for more than 60 years, brings extended learning, recreation, and social activities into school buildings under the auspices of local education systems. The Mott Foundation has pledged more than $110 million over six years for after-school training and technical assistance, promising practices, access and equity, evaluation, and public outreach. It is estimated that over 10,000 schools in the country have at one time or another adopted some aspects of this model in which schools become a center for the community.
item: Established by the Open Society Institute in 1998, The After-School Corporation (TASC), in partnership with the City of New York and the New York Board of Education, is currently providing after-school funding to 84 sites located in New York City Schools and the surrounding area. The program is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day to any child who would like to come. Activities include: arts enrichment, recreation, literacy and language arts, sports, cultural awareness, technology literacy, mathematics and science, community service, career preparation, and college preparation. TASC provides funding to community-based organizations that manage and staff projects at each site. Site staff include a full-time coordinator and a mixture of teachers, parents, professional artists and technology specialists, college and high school students, and national service members.

Partners plant the seeds of college attendance early in students' lives
item: Passport to College Riverside, California, is a collaboration of Riverside Community College (RCC), the Riverside County Office of Education, six area unified school districts, businesses and other community individuals and organizations that seek to make a college education possible for an entire class of students (11,500) who were enrolled in fifth grade in 1996. The program involves teachers, guidance counselors, school district liaisons, and designated school contact teachers, students and families in a continuum of activities from fifth to 12th grades including: campus tours, classroom presentations, teacher training workshops, parent meetings (in English and Spanish), financial aid workshops and other activities sponsored by community professionals. Program mentors include community college student ambassadors, and community, business and civic leaders. Riverside Community College guarantees admission (in 2004), as well as last-dollar scholarships, to all program participants who graduate from high school. Area four-year institutions of higher education have all agreed to offer additional scholarship support for Passport students wanting to complete their undergraduate degrees after completing two years at RCC.
item: The Twenty-first Century Scholars Program, legislated by the Indiana General Assembly in 1990, and administered by the Office of Twenty-first Century Scholars, provides tuition scholarships. Eighth-graders enroll in the program by meeting income guidelines and taking the Scholars Pledge requiring that the student graduate from an Indiana high school; achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale; abstain from illegal drugs and alcohol; not commit any crimes; apply for admission to an Indiana college; and apply for student financial aid as a high school senior. Upon fulfillment of the pledge, the student earns tuition scholarship at any participating institution. In addition to providing scholarships, the program also provides students and their families with intervention and support services (from Community Partners coordinators who direct early, regional statewide outreach activities; site-based Parents' Project support programs; AmeriCorps Program members who mentor, tutor, and engage scholars in other college preparatory activities; and access to a toll-free hotline for career and college information). The first class of scholars graduated from college in the spring of 1999; currently, there are about 40,000 scholars through Indiana.
item: The Kentuckiana College Access Center promotes postsecondary access and success for the youth and adults of the Kentuckiana Region of the State of Kentucky. Clients are provided with vital community based guidance and information services which enables them to succeed in securing postsecondary education. The staff of highly trained counselors is available to advise clients according to their individual needs and workshops are provided for school groups and community organizations. All services are free of charge.
item: The San Antonio Texas Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (San Antonio PREP) is a rigorous eight-week summer pre-engineering program for middle school students that stresses abstract reasoning skills, problem solving skills, and career opportunities in engineering and science, as well as in other fields. Program assistants and mentors are undergraduates in engineering and science, and many are former PREP students. The high school graduation rate, of the nearly 14,000 students who have taken at least one summer of PREP since it began (1979), is 99.9 percent; the college-attending rate is 92 percent, and the college graduation rate is 80 percent. Fifty-three percent of the college graduates were science or engineering majors.
item: United Parcel Service (UPS)/School-to-Work program provides an opportunity for high school students to make a successful transition from school to work and/or postsecondary education. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the program currently involves participation from 27 high schools, six county areas, in addition to approximately 300 students. Students work in package handling for approximately four hours each day and receive high school credits with pay for work experience. UPS offers seven college courses at the work site via the local community college, with mentors available to ensure success. Tuition and books are paid by UPS upon student completion of a course. A few times each year, students can job shadow an employee working in a position or career that is of interest to them.
item: GEAR UP has been a Department of Education discretionary grants program that provides funding for states and partnerships to encourage more young people to have high expectations, stay in school and study hard, and go to college. GEAR UP funding supports curriculum improvement, staff training, early college awareness and preparation activities, and academic help (tutoring, mentoring, and advising) for low-income students. The first GEAR UP grants were awarded in August 1999 to 21 states and 164 partnerships of colleges and middle grades across the country.

Partners give teachers and principals the tools they need to engage families and family support for learning
item: Collaborating organizations provide teachers with training on how to effectively integrate the use of technology into their existing curriculum. Funds required to support these programs are provided by Intel and BellSouth; Computers, related equipment, and software are provided by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft; the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) delivers the training and provides administrative services for the partners. With 40 hours of hands-on instructions, teachers enhance their existing lesson plans by integrating the use of technology: use multimedia software to create presentations, Web sites, newsletters, and brochures; access support documents such as the implementation plan that aligns student objectives to state content standards, student samples, evaluation tools, templates, tests, etc.; and network anywhere, anytime with other teachers through a Web site. In 2000, the partnership is expected to provide training to approximately 12,000 teachers in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.
item: The AT&T Learning Network, launched in 1995, is designed to provide all schools with access to some of the newest information technologies, including the Internet and the World Wide Web. This program, that includes not only access to technology, but also help in understanding how to use it, is available to all schools. The Network's free online support service includes an Internet 101 tutorial on how to use the Internet; a Web Tour created by education experts to guide teachers through various education-related uses of the World Wide Web; and coaching to teachers, by teachers, on how to integrate technology into lesson plans and classroom activities. In addition, technical assistance and links and pointers to top search engines and resources help direct teachers to online education content and information.
item: A Teacher Preparation CD for Family Involvement is designed for use by pre-service and in-service training and professional development coordinators, and/or community and family organizations. The CD includes research, talking points, and questions to spark discussions; speakers' notes and overheads; and a teleconference video clip that highlights the importance of family involvement in education and explains why family involvement is so critical to the work of teachers.

Partners make effective use of facilities--schools, community buildings, churches--for children and families
item: The West Des Moines Community School District Iowa, includes parents and community members, teachers, business people, and representatives from city government on-site improvement teams that set the direction for each of the district's 15 schools. In addition, a community education advisory council conducts a needs assessment survey every few years to determine whether facilities and programs offered to all members of the community are still current. Due to the schools' outreach and offerings, 95 percent of parents and community volunteers flow in and out of the schools daily..
item: The St. Louis, Missouri, Public School district operates 16 Comprehensive Community Education Centers (CECs) at nine elementary school sites and seven middle school sites. Approximately 18,000 to 22,000 youth and adults participate in Community Education programs, which have been offered by the St. Louis Public Schools in partnership with the city government since 1968. Each CEC has a community-wide council. The Centers operate year-round, are open four days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., and some facilities remain open on Friday evenings and weekends. In addition to after-school youth programs, including tutoring and homework assistance, cultural enrichment, recreation, organized team sports, violence and drug prevention and career exploration, during the summer, the centers offer day camps and teen drop-in activities as well as academic course offerings. Adult programming--general education, home and family, arts and crafts, recreation, and vocational and college courses--are also offered..
item: Located in three apartments in a high-crime, low-income neighborhood in Orange County, California, the Shalimar Learning Center provides tutoring in reading and math, homework help, mentoring, English language development classes, and use of the computer lab to over 150 students (grades 1 - 12) who drop in daily after school. Running the year-round center, five days a week, is a team of two to five paid staff and a pool of 75 - 120 volunteers who commit to two-hour shifts one day per week. The grade-point average of teen students at the center improved by 34 percent, and not one of the participating students dropped out of school..



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