On September 26, Way to Grow launched the first in a series of parent engagement workshops designed to equip parents with the necessary resources and information to advocate for their children’s education and ultimately impact long-term educational outcomes. My Voice Matters, an innovative initiative developed in collaboration with several of our community partners, will provide parents from seven Minneapolis neighborhoods with an opportunity to voice their concerns about their children’s education, and provide training sessions to help parents navigate the school system and make the school choice that is best for their children.
During the first workshop, nearly 55 people representing Way to Grow families filled the room to listen and share their common concerns about language and cultural barriers, communicating with teachers, cultural competency, and choosing the appropriate school for their children. Information gathered from the series will be used to develop future training sessions.
“Every parent we’ve talked to is concerned about their children’s educational future and the role schools play in preparing them for success,” says Megan McLaughlin, Way to Grow’s program director. “What we’re doing is taking the initiative to empower parents so they’re more deeply engaged in their children’s education and are better able to advocate as a community leader on their children’s behalf for broader education policy.”
In addition to providing parents and families with resources and trainings, this year-long initiative will ultimately provide them training to advocate for system and policy change at the community level, as well as at the school, city and state level. These advocacy trainings, hosted by our community partners, will teach parents how to mobilize others to be more active at school board meetings, and engage key legislators in conversations about their children’s educational future. Ultimately, they will learn how to testify as a group at the Capitol on Advocacy for Children Day 2018, along with Way to Grow CEO Carolyn Smallwood to help shape future policy.