A New Family Engagement Partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy

Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, announces the new partnership at the NCFL national conference

“Read to your child.”

“Help them with their homework.”

“Make sure they get a good night sleep.”

“And what else?…”

A parent is a child’s first and most important teacher, but our approaches to family engagement often fall short of recognizing the full potential of partnerships between schools and families. The challenges we face in education require that we go beyond these basic messages on family engagement – moving from communication to collaboration among schools and families.

This is why the U.S. Department of Education is working to develop better frameworks for family engagement, and why teacher-family collaboration is a component of RESPECT , our blueprint for elevating and transforming the teaching profession. We are also renewing our Together for Tomorrow initiative with an expanded emphasis on family partnerships to propel school improvement and produce better outcomes for students.

In support of these efforts, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) to advance family engagement in education across the country.  NCFL brings to this work more than 20 years of experience providing tools and resources for educators and parents to create lifelong learning opportunities for the entire family.

Through the partnership, the Department and NCFL will jointly develop and implement strategies to raise the awareness and understanding of effective family and community engagement in education.  This will emphasize how teachers and families can better collaborate to improve student engagement and learning. We will work together to:

  • Convene community discussions on family engagement with educators, families and community leaders across the country.
  • Identify and compile promising practices and program examples for effective family engagement in education, so schools can employ leading practices that work.
  • Gather feedback on family engagement frameworks from educators, parents, advocates, and others in the education community.
  • Develop and disseminate resource materials to support family and community engagement in education. An example includes NCFL’s Wonderopolis, an online learning community that engages classrooms and families in the wonder of discovery.

We are eager to move this essential work forward, beginning with Together for Tomorrow community conversations in locations across the country.  These will spotlight promising practices and examples of school-family partnerships, and gather feedback to shape the Department’s family engagement efforts.

We also want to hear how your family-school partnerships are boosting student engagement and academic achievement.  Please email us your promising practices and program examples to edpartners@ed.gov

Michael Robbins is senior advisor for nonprofit partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education


  1. For the past year, Capital Region BOCES in Albany, NY has partnered with school districts to champion parent and family engagement through Parent Today, a blog and e-newsletter that equips and encourages parents, families and communities to get involved in their students’ school careers. Every research-based article offers plain talk and common sense strategies that parents can easily use to support and enhance the learning that goes on in the classroom. The testimonies have been very encouraging, as parents let us know that our blog posts came at just the right time, and offered just the right advice on how they could plug into a crucial stage of their child’s schooling and development. It’s great to see other initiatives underway that bring schools and communities together to enhance student learning and success.

  2. I am educated in the field of Early Childhood Develpment and have owned and operated a childcare facility for (13) years. I share wholeheartedly that we need to target the home environment. This is the core of all issues that we encounter with our children. You have to deal with the root of any problem. Anything else will take on a bandade effect. Once this has been targeted, we will see a difference at the homefront, school front, and daycare front. Thank You

  3. Every child needs support and constant encouragement of the parents in order to achieve their maximum potential. The parents support should complement school’s tuition.

  4. We have rejuvenated the National PTA School of Excellence program to help schools and PTAs strengthen the family-school partnership and make measurable progress together. The path to excellence starts with joint commitment of PTA and school leaders who want to work together to welcome all families, communicate effectively, support student success, speak up for every child, share power, and collaborate with the community. At a National PTA School of Excellence, families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement. We provide helpful trainings and tool to support family engagement efforts at local schools. These schools are leading the nation in their approach to family-school partnerships and are at the forefront of continuous school improvements.

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