WKKF had planned to provide $5 million for family engagement programs over a three-year period. However, responding to the wave of applications, the foundation has decided to provide $5 million during the first year of funding. Thompson said WKKF will announce the amount it will invest in the second and third years when it identifies the grant winners of first round of funding in mid-April.
WKKF is already funding some parental engagement initiatives – among them, programs managed by Parents for Public Schools of Jackson (Mississippi) and the Orleans Public Education Network in New Orleans (OPEN).
OPEN Executive Director Deirdre Johnson Burel said more parental involvement is needed but cited “institutional school problems” as a more important factor in the education of black students. She said there is a need for more professional development training for teachers and that black students are not getting the best instruction because teachers at schools in low-income communities generally have less experience.
Burel said parental involvement is becoming more important as school districts in 44 states begin to adopt the more rigorous Common Core education standards.
“We need to help parents understand this shift,” she said. “We need higher education standards, but we also need the resources to meet those standards.”
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