“Secret sauce” for Impactful Family Engagement: Our Lessons Learned from a Community of Practice

Field Guide: How to host a community of practice

Join the Family Engagement Community of Practice

Family engagement can't be an add on

STEM Family Engagement Tool

3. Putting ideas into action

Our community of practice presents lots of information — promising practices, resources, research, and ideas from participants. We heard from participants that they need help taking this information and creating a plan of action. In response to this need, STEM Next supported the development of STEM Family Engagement: A Planning Tool by the Institute for the Study of Resilience in Youth. This tool provides strategies and examples that are organized around the framework CARE: Connect, Act, Reflect, and Empower. The accompanying workbook provides exercises for promoting effective and equitable family engagement in STEM — an actionable roadmap for setting goals, strategies, and measurements of progress.

Lessons learned for supporting action plans. In general, we found that participants are aspirational in their plans — typically trying to do too much and underestimating the effort their plans will require. We help them narrow down their goals to set them up for success with smaller wins and to ease the effort that will be required of staff and partners. We offer personalized coaching in which participants discuss their action plans, talk through potential challenges, and refine their goals and actions for family engagement.

Family engagement is a journey. A community of practice can help programs move along on this journey and work in partnership with families to support STEM. In future blogs, we will share examples of partners who participated in our communities of practice and how they support family engagement. Linda Kekelis. I am an advisor for the STEM Next Opportunity Fund. I have devoted my lifetime to supporting families and educators in encouraging youth in STEM. I am grateful to all the families I met over the years who shared their hopes, dreams, and ideas that have helped me appreciate the power of family engagement. In my role as a grandmother, I enjoy experiencing family engagement in a new light, for a new generation. Bunmi Esho. I lead outreach initiatives with Endless OS Foundation and serve as an advisor for the STEM Next Opportunity Fund. I was raised in the United States and Nigeria before graduating with a degree in engineering. As a child, I experienced the powerful role community engagement plays in support of families navigating an unfamiliar education system. That stuck with me, eventually leading me to a career in educational nonprofits. I believe in the critical intersection between community, education, and STEM, and in addition to my work, I volunteer with organizations like RightOn! Education and the Steering Committee for the National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl. I love road trips and have traveled cross-country through the US and abroad. STEM Next Opportunity Fund works toward dismantling the opportunity gap in STEM so that all youth can thrive and explore their potential. The Family Engagement Project helps support this mission. STEM NEXT supports family engagement by supporting networks of organizations that offer STEM programs in out-of-school time. With case studies, research-to-practice blogs, and white papers STEM Next highlights promising practices and research. These include Changing the Game in STEM with Family Engagement and The Essential Funders’ Guide to STEM-Focused Family Engagement: Seven Strategies to Support Families in Advancing Young People’s Interests, Persistence, and Achievement.


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