The Flamboyan Foundation is delighted to announce new partnerships with Capital City Public Charter School, Phelps High School, the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), SEED Foundation, and Thurgood Marshall Academy to engage families in students’ college readiness and success. Through the Family Engagement in College Readiness Learning Partnership, each organization will develop and pilot a family engagement initiative to incorporate into their college readiness curriculum, participate in a professional learning community to share best practices, and share their findings about family engagement in college readiness programs across the District.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to learn about family engagement in college readiness and success with some of the best practitioners in the city,” said Susan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Flamboyan DC office.
About the choice to expand Flamboyan’s efforts into college readiness and persistence, Stevenson added, “Most of our work to date has been focused on building the capacity of educators in elementary schools to help families support learning. In middle and high school, the roles families play in their children’s education change. Guiding children’s decisions to college or career becomes paramount. Engaging families in college readiness is the critical and logical next step in helping families play the roles that help students succeed from cradle to career.”
The five new partners join the Duke Ellington School of the Arts College Summit, a veteran partner of Flamboyan, who has been piloting a family engagement initiative in their college readiness curriculum for the last two years. The goal of Duke Ellington’s pilot is to increase the number of students who enroll and persist in good match schools by proactively engaging their families in the college application and selection process. The initiative includes campus visits for 11th and 12th grade students and their families and quarterly family seminars to share timely and relevant information throughout the last two years of high school.
Flamboyan has taken a three-pronged approach to learning about the roles families play guiding their children’s path through college. In addition to piloting strategies with partners locally, Flamboyan has researched the barriers that students face to college readiness and success and the role that families play in removing these barriers. Finally, Flamboyan interviewed local schools and nonprofit organizations, and conducted focus groups with D.C. families to identify best practices and learn about what families already know and are hungry to learn in order to help their children succeed in college.
“One key take-away is that in order to engage families in guiding students’ paths to college, the key actor that is supporting students must have trusting relationships with students and their families,” Stevenson added. “Armed with this knowledge, we’re set to work with schools on strategies that best meet the needs of their unique environments.”
The specific family engagement strategies will vary across the partnerships, depending on each partner’s priorities. During their introductory meeting, partners expressed enthusiasm about designing initiatives that targeted a specific barrier that their students were facing. A representative from the Thurgood Marshall Academy discussed interest in working with families to help students persist at the college where they originally enroll, while school staff from Capital City Public Charter School brainstormed ways they could build upon their existing family engagement strategies to deeply reach the greatest number of families at their school.
“Our hope is that our new partners will integrate family engagement into their work by piloting a specific family engagement strategy that will improve outcomes for kids,” added Stevenson. “The Family Engagement in College Readiness Learning Partnerships will give us valuable information on what family engagement strategies work for students in a variety of different contexts and provide a much needed space for organizations to share best practices and problem-solve around challenges related to family engagement.”