Kellogg Initiative Aims to Empower Parents

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is one of the biggest early childhood education funders in the nation, providing millions in grants to a broad range of organizations focused on early education and child development. Recipients have ranged from local-level service providers to national policy research and advocacy organizations.

One characteristic of Kellogg's early childhood education grant-making activities is an emphasis on collaborative solutions that bring together a variety of partners in improving the lives of young children. So it is wholly appropriate that a major new initiative from Kellogg focuses on empowering parents as partners in early childhood education and fully engaging them as partners in this important work.

The funder recently announced that it would award $13.7 million to 30 organizations in 18 states and the District of Columbia that are developing and operating family engagement programs in early childhood education. Kellogg hopes the funds will forge stronger ties among families, schools, and communities, with a focus on supporting children in those critical years from birth to age 8.

Carla Thompson, Kellogg's vice president for program strategy, explained that parents are too often not at the table when decisions affecting their children's education are made. This grant is designed to change that by supporting organizations that are committed to family engagement, defined as a shared responsibility among families, schools, and communities for student learning and achievement.

The 30 organizations funded under this initiative represent a diverse range of nonprofits and agencies. They include advocacy organizations such as the National Parent Leadership Institute and Generations United, public school systems (San Mateo, CA, Office of Education), museums (Bass Museum of Art and the Frost Museum of Science), local serivce organizations (United Way of Greater Atlanta), and institutions of higher education (Harvard Family Research Project and the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education). Cultural diversity is present, as well. Recipients include the Sitka Tribe of Alaska; the Center for Southeast Asians in Providence, RI; and Keiki O Ka Aina Preschool Inc. in Hawaii.

Family engagement is an important factor in education, throughout early childhood and beyond, which Kellogg and other funders are recognizing and supporting. And that's good news for service providers, nonprofits, and advocacy groups that want to improve educational opportunities for children.