Over the next three years, AISD plans to expand initiative to more schools
The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded Austin ISD $1.75 million to build upon the lessons the district learned during the planning initiative to deepen and expand parent engagement.
The Kellogg Foundation grant supports training to build parent leadership and address school and community issues that are barriers to success.
“Only through authentic conversations can we determine the needs of our students. If we are to reinvent the urban school experience, we must partner with families to do so,” Superintendent Paul Cruz said.
The project with the Kellogg Foundation began in 2015 to build on the district’s commitment to programs focused on the whole child, including the Social and Emotional Learning initiative. During the first nine months of the initiative, teachers and parents from five schools in north Austin conducted one-on-one meetings, small group meetings, community walks and events to cultivate relationships with families.
“We are honored to support this initiative from AISD,” said Jon-Paul Bianchi at the Kellogg Foundation. “This is a bold step that goes beyond traditional family involvement efforts and allows parents and school leaders to collaborate equitably to improve academic achievement for children.”
Trained staff and volunteers have begun conducting home visits, on-campus meetings and interviews of parents and families at five campuses. Those campuses include Hart, McBee, Padron and Wooldridge elementary schools and the Lucy Read Pre-K Demonstration School.
Part of the first year’s planning included developing Campus Think Tanks, groups of teachers, parent support specialists, parents, community members and principals. The Think Tanks went through extensive training to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other and their communities through meetings and conversation circles.
With the three-year grant, AISD will build on the first year to better understand barriers, gaps in service and untapped assets. With the additional funding, AISD plans to add up to 10 more schools.
The selection of these campuses will continue to build momentum that began in 2012 when the Austin Police Department received a $1 million dollar grant from the Department of Justice to launch Restore Rundberg, a partnership between the City of Austin and the University of Texas focused on long-term planning and implementation of neighborhood-based revitalization strategies.
The Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the U.S. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, the foundation works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.