We know that when families are engaged in their children’s learning, students succeed. Among funders, policymakers, and practitioners, there is a renewed interest in supporting family and community engagement efforts. Yet ongoing challenges suggest that we must identify the best ways to integrate such efforts into policies, practices, and school designs, all while fostering mutual trust and collaboration. Carnegie Corporation of New York’s education program commissioned the Global Family Research Project to write a challenge paper with the goal of helping to stimulate this growing movement and inspire the field to place families at the center of any approach to student success.

The challenge paper examines the history, current practice, and the future potential of family and community engagement as a key part of ensuring lifelong success for all children. It offers suggestions for five high-leverage areas of investment: community  initiatives, capacity building and professional development, data pathways, public policy change, and public communication and engagement strategies. It also poses questions about what additional efforts are needed to build on a bold vision of effective family and community engagement strategies at the local, state, and national levels. 

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To complement the paper and offer additional insight, we invited eight of our grantees representing a broad range of expertise in the field to write the essays found below with their own reflections on the paper’s call to action. Their responses offer differing perspectives and possible solutions. One essay shares the experience of a former dropout determined to break the cycle with her own children. Others call on us to rethink how schools communicate academic progress and the ways technology may help bridge barriers and strengthen relationships.

To further the conversation, we invite you to share your ideas with us at: education@carnegie.org.