What We Do

Student success is directly tied to family engagement, and yet too many families struggle to navigate the educational system.

Just as important, school systems do not always know how to authentically engage families, particularly those that have historically been marginalized. FIS partners with school systems, advocates for families, and champions parents and caregivers playing leadership roles in their children’s learning and success.

FIS is a capacity-building, leadership, and advocacy organization that works throughout the United States, with our largest footprint in Los Angeles and California, to ensure families are involved at every level of educational change and opportunity for their children.

We do this by:

  • Championing authentic and impact-driven family engagement practices and amplifying family voice to inform the ongoing narrative around their children’s education and well-being.

  • Investing in the capacity of both families and educators and align them around their mutual desire to see students succeed.

  • Equipping schools, other family-serving systems, and families with tools, structures, and language to embed partnership into their DNA.

  • Leading and supporting advocacy campaigns that will close opportunity gaps for students of color and those living in poverty.

Capacity Building

Families In Schools offers a suite of culturally-responsive tools and training modules that equip educators and professionals with tools and practices they need to effectively engage families.

Family Engagement Strategies Institute

FIS offers high-quality professional learning experiences that focus on helping school, district, and organizational staff learn about research-based strategies and promising practices to improve student success through authentic and high-impact family engagement. Using an asset-based approach, and based on the Dual Capacity Building Framework by Dr. Karen Mapp, this institute is a 12-hour intensive training that includes the following three modules:

Mindsets Matter: Participants reflect deeply on what they bring to school-family relationships, identify potential biases, and develop skills for modeling an asset-based approach to families through honest conversations and dialogue.

Welcoming Environment: Participants take a dive deep into the four domains of a welcoming environment through interactive activities and discussion.

Collaborative Family Engagement: Participants learn that the voices of families and communities are essential to improved student outcomes – from planning events, making decisions, and co-creating school-wide policies. This session helps participants embrace the idea that effective family and community engagement is anchored in building productive relationships and sharing power.

“I loved this training!”

— Mindset Matters participant survey from NYCPS

“The most useful thing I would take away from this training is that we have to be intentional [with] the families we have in our schools and find the best practices to help them be more engaged in our schools and with their children.”

— Mindsets Matters participant from Bright Star Schools

“This training should be accessible for all community schools; the tangible data and rubrics on family engagement are so useful. Thank you for this great information!”

— Creating a Welcoming Environment participant from NYCPS

Legacy Institutes/Trainings for Parents

Transition to Middle: Enables parents to gain confidence in guiding and monitoring their child’s educational and social development during the transition from elementary to middle school.

Transition to High School: Enables parents to gain confidence in guiding and monitoring their child’s educational and social development during the transition from elementary to middle school.

Transition to College: Provides interactive lessons about financial aid, post-secondary options, campus resources, and socio-emotional support for parents and students to gain confidence, prepare for, and be successful in college.

Steps for Success: Engages parents of English Learners to understand the English Learner reclassification process and how best to support their child academically.

Growth Mindset: Encourages parents to learn new strategies to support their child’s education through interactive lessons that focus on learning mindsets, family communication, and ways parents can support their child’s development of non-cognitive skills.

Family Engagement Coaching & Consultation

FIS offers customized discovery, analysis, and planning support to educational partners looking to invest in family engagement. We start by working closely with partners to investigate and determine authentic opportunities to strengthen or develop high impact engagement strategies. Our services include:

Focus Groups: We provide facilitation for focus groups of parents, educators, administrators, and other educational partners to help schools and systems assess what’s working or not working in their efforts to engage families. By getting direct feedback, system leaders can identify root causes, implement new strategies, and inform more effective and equitable ways to engage families.

School Site Visits: Trained FIS staff conduct site visits with school leaders to identify real-time opportunities to create conditions for stronger and more robust family engagement.

Learnings & Opportunities Reports: We document our findings in what we call Learnings and Opportunities Reports, which include an accompanying presentation deck. Reports can focus on the district and/or individual schools and can be made available in multiple languages. The goal of each report is to help teams implement actionable strategies to build trusting relationships and enhance the environment for families and students.

Parent Power Building

Families In Schools is grounded in the belief that no one loves children more than their parents/families; and by harnessing this love, they can be powerful change agents. Guided by the hopes and dreams for their children, FIS walks alongside parents, supporting and equipping them to develop the leadership and advocacy skills to ensure their children succeed in school and life.

Parent Warriors

The Parent Warriors leadership program brings together a small cohort of parent/caregiver leaders each year to enhance their skills in order to champion a more equitable educational system for the children of Los Angeles. The specific program elements respond to the current education landscape and are thoughtfully tailored to meet the unique needs of each cohort. The program includes:

Educational Advocacy Training: Parent Warriors are equipped with the knowledge to navigate complex educational systems, understand their rights, and advocate for their children’s needs. Advanced sessions further equip them to influence the policy-making processes.

Leadership Development: Hands-on activities allow parents and caregivers to strengthen their leadership skills and prepare to take active roles in their schools and communities.

Community Engagement and Networking: Core to the cohort experience is the network and community that is built. This allows them to share their experiences, learn from each other, and build a lasting support network critical for the long-term work of collective advocacy.

“Through my experience with FIS, I’ve discovered that collaboration enables us to achieve greater success than attempting things alone. While my journey with my child’s education has been challenging over the years, the guidance I’ve received from FIS and other groups has made it so much easier to navigate.”

— Raquel Toscano, FIS Parent Warrior

“Gracias FIS por su dedicación porque un padre informado jamas será ignorado. Yo soy un padre informado.”

— Raquel Toscano, FIS Parent Warrior

“I am so proud of the work FIS does and continues to do alongside Parent Warriors like me. We are given the opportunity to amplify our authentic voices about education and equity to impact change with stakeholders. Thank you for giving us a platform to feel seen and heard!”

— Lisette Duarte, FIS Parent Warrior

“Don’t be afraid to lead or stand up for what you believe is right. Remember who’s always watching and taking notes: our children.”

— Sylvia Lopez, FIS Parent Warrior

“People with great passion can make the impossible happen.”

— Mary Lee, FIS Parent Warrior

“Esta frase la escuche en el grupo de Padres Guerreros y me gusto: Una mujer empoderada jamas será ignorada.”

— Mireya Pacheco, FIS Parent Warrior

Parent Villages

The Parent Villages curriculum and toolkit brings small groups of parents together over four sessions and is designed to activate parents as leaders and advocates. Serving as an introduction to leadership and advocacy, parents learn how to foster community, forge collective identity, find their voice, and fight for change.

Offered in English and Spanish, in-person or virtual, this highly engaging curriculum was developed by the TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health and inspired by The New York Times Best Selling Book, Parent Nation, written by Dr. Dana Suskind. Through a partnership with the TMW Center, FIS offers a train-the-trainer session to groups, organizations, and school systems. FIS can also host Parent Villages directly to parents upon request.

“[Parent Villages] taught me that I’m not alone in my quest for a better outcome for myself and my children.”

— Parent Villages participant from Dominican Sisters Vision of Hope

Advocacy Campaigns

Social change happens when we get involved, mobilize, and engage in non-violent actions. Our campaigns, whether we are leading them or are part of coalitions with mission-aligned partners, center parent voice at all times.

Read about our campaigns!

ReadLA! Campaign

Read LA! focuses on reversing the decades-long literacy crisis in our city, with our coalition of partners building commitments from leaders throughout L.A. to elevate early literacy as a top priority. We partner with LAUSD to ensure that all children receive effective literacy instruction.

CA Kids Read Campaign

Families In Schools, EdVoice, and Decoding Dyslexia California are co-sponsoring comprehensive, evidence-based early literacy legislation that will ensure all California teachers are equipped to teach our children to become proficient, skilled readers by the end of third grade.

The CA Kids Read Campaign calls for urgent action to reverse the deep inequities around reading instruction for California’s students who identify as Latino, Black, English Learners, and students with disabilities from low-income communities.

Digital Equity Los Angeles

Digital Equity Los Angeles (DELA) is a broad and deep coalition of equity and justice advocates working across the County and across the State to advance universal, equitable access to fast, reliable, and affordable broadband.