Parent Programs Expand with $2.75 Million 'Investing in Innovation' Grant

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Five-year Award Will Replicate Successful Model at Six South Bronx Schools

November 14, 2013

New York, NY—The Children’s Aid Society today announced that it has placed among the top 25 applicants nationally in round four of Investing in Innovation (i3), a U.S. Department of Education competition to expand programs that help improve student achievement. A five-year, approximately $2.75 million grant will allow Children’s Aid to bring its Parent Leadership Institute, launched in 2008 in the low-income, immigrant-rich community of Washington Heights, to six Children’s Aid partnership schools in the South Bronx. It will also fund an evaluation component, which will inform the field’s research on the effectiveness of parent programs in improving student performance and transforming communities.  

The CAS Parent Leadership Institute has four essential elements: parent resource centers, which provide a welcoming space for parents and foster connections to school; parent coordinators, who encourage parent involvement and link parents to support services and leadership opportunities; adult education classes and workshops, such as ESL, GED, technology, middle and high school transition; and parent leadership development, including trainings that help parents to become active community participants and advocates for quality education for their children.

Children’s Aid will use the grant to replicate practices it currently uses to engage parents at its community schools, which bring together under one roof essential academic, after-school and social services to support success in school.

“Parent engagement programs are crucial for helping extend progress from the school day into the home,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., president and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. “Schools that build caring and trusting relationships with parents, viewing them as critical partners in their children’s educational progress, enhance parents’ desire to be involved in their children’s education. We are thrilled to bring this promising model to our South Bronx sites.”

First adopted to serve an immigrant community where parents were reluctant to enter school buildings and felt inadequate to support their children’s education, the CAS model is designed to remove barriers to school participation among families and help parents support learning at home. Using regular needs assessments and tapping existing resources, the highly replicable approach encourages parents in their role as the primary life-long educators of their children.

Research has shown some connection between students whose parents support, monitor and advocate for their education and success in school, suggesting  benefits such as higher grade point averages and scores on standardized tests or rating scales, enrollment in more challenging academic programs, improved behavior at home and school, and better attendance. Benefits can also accrue to parents, particularly in communities facing stubborn challenges like poverty, violence and unemployment. This federal grant will allow a thoughtful evaluation to test this connection between specific types of parent engagement and student success.  

Mercedes Martinez is a June 2012 graduate of the Parent Institute at Children’s Aid’s Mirabal Sisters campus, home to three Children’s Aid community schools in Washington Heights where parent engagement programs have been offered since 1994. Over the course of a year, Ms. Martinez participated in over two dozen workshops and trainings—including Children’s Aid’s adolescent sexuality course for parents, prevention workshops and vocational training in baking.

“Taking these classes helped me to understand my teenage daughters in their development,” Ms. Martinez said. “I have learned to communicate better with my family and to value myself more as a woman, and I acquired new skills that are allowing me to bring money into my home.”

To receive federal funding, all potential grantees must secure private sector matching funds by December 11, 2013, and grant awards will be announced later that month.

About The Children’s Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society is an independent, not-for-profit organization established to serve the children of New York City. Our mission is to help children in poverty to succeed and thrive. We do this by providing comprehensive supports to children and their families in targeted high-needs New York City neighborhoods. Founded in 1853, it is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative non-sectarian agencies, serving New York’s neediest children. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics and camps. For additional information, please call Anthony Ramos at (212) 949-4938/ (917) 204-8214, email anthonyr@childrensaidsociety.org or visit www.childrensaidsociety.org.