Lake Washington PTSA receives National PTA grant

The grant was used to organize two parent focus groups to learn more of what’s on parents’ minds.

The Lake Washington PTSA council recently received a grant from the National PTA to advance transformative family engagement practices, programs and policies in Lake Washington School District.

LWPTSA council is one of only three PTAs nationwide selected to receive this grant.

The grant is part of National PTA’s Center for Family Engagement, an initiative to embed transformative family engagement practices, programs and policies across the educational system.

“Family engagement is essential to both children’s success and school improvement efforts. However, traditional family engagement practices, programs and policies do not always meet the needs of all families, nor empower them as partners in their child’s and their school’s success,” Jim Accomando, National PTA president, said in a release. “We are pleased to provide Lake Washington PTSA council with resources to advance more transformative approaches for family engagement in their school districts.”

With the grant, LWPTSA council convened two parent focus groups and collaborated with stakeholders to identify opportunities to help the district improve the way it engages families in whole-child learning.

Irene Neumann, the council’s family and community engagement co-chair, said the topics discussed at the focus group meetings will contribute to national research that elevates the voice of parents in shaping how schools engage them in supporting holistic student success. This project is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The first focus group, held on July 28, invited international families to propose questions, concerns and ideas about their children’s education. The second focus group, held on July 29, invited families of various socioeconomic backgrounds to do the same.

Neuman said there’s a two-pronged approach with these focus groups. One, the Center for Family Engagement initiative is a way to engage with parents on another level, and two, it’s a way to make sure students are able to learn the best way they can.

“We hope to take parent connection to the next level, to truly learn about parent needs, concerns and perceived student barriers to learning and achievement in our district,” she said. “We would step up our outreach efforts to include some of our harder-to-reach populations so that a broader spectrum of parent voices can be heard.”

The feedback from the two focus groups will be part of an upcoming national study that will be shared with schools, district board members and administrators and local nonprofits.

“I’m real curious to learn what’s on parents’ minds,” Neuman said.

For more information, visit PTA.org.

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