We are evaluating the United Way Worldwide’s Family Engagement for High School Success initiative, which aims to support the families of disadvantaged high school youth by increasing involvement in their children’s education. This initiative, funded by AT&T, is part of United Way Worldwide’s national strategy to significantly reduce the nation’s high school dropout rate by 2018. In November 2009, AT&T granted 15 awards to local and state United Way sites to plan projects that will increase family–school–community partnerships.
During the first phase of the evaluation, we worked closely with United Way Worldwide to chart the grantee planning process, which is divided into three parts: defining focal populations, identifying outcomes, and developing strategies to achieve these outcomes. We began by creating a milestone document to measure progress, and developing a structured form to collect data from grantees as they complete each phase of the planning process. We used this data to help grantees construct clear and specific goals, strategies, and activities that are aligned with their desired outcomes. We provided this assistance through technical tools and conference calls.
This evaluation project culminated with a set of action plans from the grantees, as well as reports on the feasibility of implementing the action plans, the value of AT&T’s planning grant, and the benefits and challenges of its development. We will develop a toolkit to help other communities plan their own family engagement strategies to promote high school graduation.
A second phase of the evaluation will include documenting progress as the United Way sites implement their action plans.
RESOURCES DEVELOPED FOR THIS GRANT
- The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit: Planning and implementing an initiative to support the pathway to graduation for at-risk students
This toolkit is designed to support at-risk high school students by engaging families, schools, and the community. Created in a joint effort by United Way Worldwide and Harvard Family Research Project, the toolkit will help local United Way chapters, nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations identify ninth graders at risk of dropping out considering factors such as attendance, behavior, and academic performance; enlist and enroll the right partners; work creatively to reach parents of at-risk students; and work with parents, schools, and partners to apply research-based strategies and promising practices to get at-risk students back on track to graduate from high school.
- The Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit Webinar Series
This two-part webinar series introduces the main themes of the toolkit and explores the central components of planning and implementing family engagement strategies for at-risk high school students. The first webinar helps organizations create their own family engagement plan and the second discusses implementation successes and challenges. Learn more about the webinars and access the archived recordings here.
- Family Engagement for High School Success: Final Grant Report to AT&T
This grant report details the process of creating action plans for family engagement with the 15 local UWW grantees and the lessons learned during the process. Eight of the local grantees have since received implementation grants for their plans, and HFRP is documenting their progress now.
- Community Partnerships to Support High School Success
This report profiles eight of the local United Way grantees that were selected to recieve implementation grants, and highlights how they created action plans by engaging families, schools, and communities in the planning process.
- New Visions for Public Schools: Using Data to Engage Families
This article from Harvard Family Research Project describes how high schools in New York City have begun to engage families in students’ academic success and college readiness by helping parents understand student data. Through this case study, it becomes clear that supporting parents in grasping and using this information is a shared responsibility among schools, families, and students.
- Resource Guide for Family Engagement in Education at the High School Level
This resource guide represents a sampling of research reports, best practices, and tools to guide you in conceptualizing and creating effective family engagement strategies for high school students.
FROM THE HFRP ARCHIVE
We’ve compiled some of our resources related to family engagement and high school for your reference: