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The W.K. Kellogg Foundation holds first-of-its-kind White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement

Kathy Reincke, 269.969.2079

WASHINGTON—The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is proud to partner with the White House today to expand the national conversation about transformative family engagement as a major contributor to children’s school readiness and success.

We are so pleased to collaborate with the White House and other partners in this critical moment for transformative family engagement,” said Carla D. Thompson, vice president for program strategy at WKKF. “Parents and caregivers are the strongest voices for their children and deserve a say in the decisions that affect their success.”

The White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement is bringing together a small, distinguished group of administration officials, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Roberto Rodríguez, along with philanthropic, research and other experts from the field, for a solutions-oriented discussion on how to achieve educational equity for children — particularly those from low-income families — through transformative family engagement.  

Family engagement, especially during the critical early years, has been proven to have a profound impact on students’ success in school and in life; however, it is not always seen as an essential component in local and national education reform efforts. More work needs to be done to ensure that parents and families are at the table and part of the decision making process when it comes to their children’s education. 

There are many drivers of disparities in educational outcomes for children of color – such as housing and school segregation,” said Thompson. “Advancing family engagement efforts can help address these barriers and increase opportunities for success in school and in life for all children. 

”The event also dovetails with the release of a recent public opinion poll, commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation*, of 1,000 parents nationwide, which found that 96 percent of parents believe they play a role in ensuring their child has a quality education, but that teachers (73 percent), principals (58 percent) and local officials (46 percent) also have meaningful roles. Among other findings: 

  • U.S. parents believe that involvement in their child’s education is most critical between birth and pre-school (42 percent). That percentage increases among African American and Hispanic parents to 51 and 47 percent, respectively.
  • Ten percent of all parents, rising to 18 percent of Hispanic parents, say they are actively involved in their children’s education, but do not feel welcome to participate. However, the majority of parents (82 percent) do say they are actively involved and feel welcome. 
  • Forty-six percent of U.S. parents report that lack of time is an obstacle that may prevent them from fully engaging in their child’s education. Nearly 1 in 5 reports that a lack of understanding of what their child is learning also serves as a significant barrier facing diverse and low-income families. 

These findings demonstrate that while parents want to engage, there are barriers that limit all parents feeling welcomed as partners in their children’s education,” said Felicia DeHaney, director of education and learning at WKKF. “We must find new opportunities beyond the one-off parent-teacher conferences and events if we hope to set all children on an equitable path to success by making sure that families, educators and community leaders are truly equal partners in student learning.” 

WKKF defines transformative family engagement as a shared responsibility of families, schools and communities aimed at helping students learn and achieve. It is a continuous process from birth to third grade and beyond, and occurs across all the settings where children learn — creating environments that support parents and families as strong leaders and advocates for their children.

In April 2014, the Kellogg Foundation announced 30 new grantees in family engagement for a total investment of $13.7 million nationwide. 

*This survey was conducted on behalf of WKKF by ORC International among 1,000 parents of children ages 6-17 in the United States, using a representative online sample, from July 1-8, 2014, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF 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. To learn more, follow WKKF on Twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn.

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