NCFL to lead new Statewide Family Engagement Center in Colorado

The U.S. Department of Education has selected the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) to create and lead the Colorado Statewide Family Engagement Center (CO SFEC). In partnership with Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition (CSPC), and the Black Parent Network (BPN), the CO SFEC will build the capacity of families, schools, and communities to address learning recovery and related impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as implement practices and systems to improve student development and family well-being.

Partner organizations for the Colorado Statewide Family Engagement Center

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for robust, cohesive family engagement systems. Recent Colorado data confirms support for students’ social, emotional, and mental health and for working with families and community remain top areas school leaders and teachers report needing additional support and professional development to lead schools effectively. Now, more than ever, coordinated and aligned family engagement efforts are needed to support learning recovery and academic achievement, particularly for children of color.

The CO SFEC priorities are aligned to the 2020 Colorado School District Community Needs Inventory and its work will support identified needs of K-3 reading loss, student mental health, disengagement of high school students, and adult education.

The model for implementing the CO SFEC reflects the Dual Capacity-Building Framework, the gold standard in family engagement practices. The CO SFEC will build a system that connects and integrates family engagement in education initiatives at state, regional, and local levels. A throughline across all system levels promotes parent leadership opportunities to elevate family voices and inform local decision making. This once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage federal and state investments to design and build family partnership infrastructure will provide a national model for state COVID-19 learning recovery and catalyze a new era of effective family, school, and community partnerships. 

“We’re thrilled for this opportunity to enhance family engagement efforts with key partners and stakeholders across the state of Colorado through the establishment of a Statewide Family Engagement Center,” says NCFL’s President and CEO, Dr. Felicia C. Smith. “Given the strength of Colorado’s education landscape, the state is primed for innovative and equity-centered practices advancing family engagement as a lever for improving student learning outcomes. Our partners for the CO SFEC are trusted organizations who have long been doing great work in the state. This effort will build upon their work to strengthen the bridge between family, school, and community commitments to Colorado children.”

According to the new Latinos for Education report, the way schools and districts communicate achievement and assessment information to parents is an important area for growth. CEI has already begun supporting response to this need through its newly released family assessment literacy tool.

“This SFEC award comes at a time when we are seeing increasing demand for deeper family partnership behaviors across Colorado, with CEI school and district partners recently identifying high-impact family and community engagement as their top area of interest for support. In addition to the more common focus for family partnership in early elementary, we are thrilled that the CO SFEC will also deepen family engagement practices related to career and college readiness,” says CEI’s President and CEO Rebecca Holmes. “CEI is honored by this opportunity to bring together the unique assets of NCFL with the Colorado partner organizations to build reciprocal bottom-up and top-down support for centering families as partners in education, with emphasis on families of color.”

The five-year grant, under the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program (84.310A), will total $4,773,464.

To learn more about NCFL’s partners in this work, read the full press release.