4 Parent Education Programs- Chronicle of Higher Education

by | Feb 14, 2017 | News and Announcements


By Kelly Field FEBRUARY 05, 2017

Looking to start or expand a college-access program that focuses on parents? Here are four nonprofit and college-based models to consider, along with their advice on what it takes to succeed.

How it works:

PIQE was started in San Diego nearly 30 years ago and is the model for the American Dream Academy at Arizona State University. It offers free nine-week seminars in 16 languages to low-income parents of high-school students. It also offers courses to parents in early-childhood development, financial literacy, STEM education, civic engagement, and leadership.

Outcomes: To date, more than 600,000 parents have completed the program. A 2013 survey of parents who had participated in it showed that 90 percent of the respondents’ children had graduated from high school, while 70 percent of those students had enrolled in college following graduation.

Advice: Parent graduates are the best recruiters; call participants the day before each class to urge them to attend; don’t lecture to parents — dialogue and discussion are better; make your curriculum culturally relevant and current, reflecting the latest educational standards.

How it works:
Inversant, a Boston-based program, provides matched savings accounts and monthly seminars for low-income parents. It also provides scholarships to five local institutions through agreements with those colleges. Inversant raises the money for the matching and scholarships from corporations, foundations, and private donors.

Outcomes: In its first eight years, 1,000 parents opened savings accounts and saved about $1 million. Three hundred and fifty students enrolled in college, and 65 graduated. The program’s one-year college-persistence rate is 89 percent, compared with 66 percent for Boston Public Schools; its four-year graduation rate is 73 percent, compared with 35 percent for Boston Public Schools.

Advice: Go to where the parents are — hold events in their communities, at locations that can be reached with public transportation; offer incentives tied to seminar attendance; practice positive reinforcement, offering bonuses for frequent contributions to savings, even if they’re small.

How it works:
A joint program run by Lulac Council No. 2 and Alamo Colleges, in Texas, it provides financial incentives to both parents and their children to get a college education. The Alamo College Foundation annually provides $1,000 scholarships to 25 parents to enroll in one of the five Alamo institutions. An endowment funded by the league provides two-year, tuition-and-fee scholarships to the children of parents who complete their academic goals.

Outcomes: Parents maintain an average 3.13 GPA in their first year, with an average fall-to-fall persistence rate of 96 percent. Of the 513 parents who have received a scholarship, 231 have earned a credential — a 45-percent graduation rate. The three-year graduation rate for all Alamo College students seeking certificates and associate degrees is 16.5 percent.

Advice: Look for partners among community leaders, government agencies, and local school districts, but be selective about the partners you choose; clearly define what you need from your partner, and get it in writing; to improve retention, vet scholarship candidates fully, including through interviews.

How it works:
Part of the University of Southern California’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative, a seven-year precollege enrichment program for low-income students from neighborhoods around the university, the institute offers 16 Saturday seminars for parents. Parents elect a leadership governance board, attend field trips, and raise money for the program.

Outcomes: Ninety-nine percent of students who participate in the initiative go to college, and 75 percent of them graduate. Forty-one percent of participants have gone to USC.

Advice: Mean what you say and say what you mean. The community has a long memory, particularly if promises are made and then rescinded. Create a leadership body of parents to act as ombudsmen between the administrators of the programming and the community. Always come from a perspective of strength. There may be needs in the community, but your parents bring many strengths to the table.

Kelly Field is a senior reporter covering federal higher-education policy. Contact her at [email protected]. Or follow her on Twitter @kfieldCHE.

This article is part of: College 101 for Parents A version of this article appeared in the February 10, 2017 issue.


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