Funders’ Playbook: Tools for Thinking About Family and Community Engagement

Funders’ Playbook: Tools for Thinking About Family and Community Engagement


Students thrive when families are involved in their education, and schools are stronger when they have close ties to their communities. In recent years, foundations have made it a growing priority to foster those conditions through strategic investments in family and community engagement.

This playbook provides two new tools to help foundations strengthen their grantmaking in these areas. The first tool helps foundations to thoughtfully consider the mix of family and community engagement approaches that they support, whether they want to concentrate investments in certain areas or achieve a more balanced portfolio. The second tool allows grantmakers to consider how their investments fit into a local or regional ecosystem of family and community engagement activities in order to better understand whether there are opportunities to bolster their investments in family engagement, and to consider whether they want to strengthen existing programs or address gaps.

These tools are not meant to be objective measures, nor were they created to advocate for a particular investment strategy. Rather, they are designed to help foundations think strategically about their goals and how they can best structure their investments to achieve them.

This resource was developed through the work of the Parent and Community Learning and Action Network, a partnership of five philanthropies spearheaded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and informed by extensive analyses of family engagement activities in urban communities in different regions of the country. Along with the Corporation, the other members of the Network are Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Overdeck Family Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

Program: Education