Engaging Parents to Support Students

August 4, 2017

We have successfully concluded the CDF Freedom Schools® Parent Engagement Institute. The pilot initiative – which included two programs ran in partnership with Read Lead and Success in Challenges – served approximately 30 parents from Compton, Lynwood and Long Beach areas. Parents participated in six two-hour sessions which focused on helping parents increase capacity to support their children’s academic development, strengthen communication and interaction, and to hone in on their leadership skills to effectively engage in their children’s education.

As part of the Institute’s curriculum, the last pilot session focused on civic engagement and ensuring that both parents and children embrace the history and struggles of our ancestors. Parents watched clips from the film Selma, based on a campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition; these efforts culminated with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Parents at the Long Beach site were fortunate to hear from special guests like Peggy Dammond Preacely, who was a Freedom Fighter and member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as well as Long Beach Unified Board member and parent activist Meghan Kerr, Community Advocate Emiliano Uranga and Pastor Rob Robinson. Los Angeles County of Education’s board president, Alex Johnson, and Lynwood Unified School District Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite spoke to parents in Lynwood.

Parents who participated in the Institute reported that they feel a sense of responsibility and empowerment to give back to their communities through advocacy, storytelling, and community action. Parents also voiced an interest in receiving facilitation trainings and have committed to share the knowledge and tools they have acquired to meet better outcomes for children and families of color in their communities. CDF will continue to work with selected parents to continue to develop their leadership and facilitation skills.

CDF and Read Lead’s program was funded by The Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles Universal Preschool. Success In Challenges’ Parent efforts are funded by a grant from The California Endowment.