June 21, 2023

Building Parent Power

By Krista Kaput | Kelly Robson Foster | Alex Cortez

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Watch the recordings from our webinar series co-hosted with PIE Network to learn more. 

Parents* should be a school district’s most powerful partners. They know their children deeply and have a profound, personal stake in their children’s education. Yet too often in school systems across the country, parents are left out of decision-making — particularly those who are low income, first-generation, immigrants, and/or Black, Latino, or Native American. They aren’t in the room where decisions are made about policy and funding. Frequently, they aren’t even invited into the building. 

“Parent engagement” efforts often fall short because they dictate an ask to parents, or at best seek input on a predetermined agenda. True parent organizing starts by acknowledging that parents from all communities have an innate power they can exercise  — individually and collectively — to create and sustain the change they believe is right for their children and their school system.

Many “parent power” organizations across the country are working to help parents do just that. 

In this series of essays, we share case studies on five parent power organizations around the country: FaithActs for Education, GO Public Schools, Innovate Public Schools, Kids First Chicago, and Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE). Each organization offers lessons and takeaways on building parent leadership structures, organizing and advocacy, organizational structure, and fundraising for emerging parent power organizations and for funders supporting this work. 

Below, you’ll find links to all five case studies, along with Insights From the Field, a summary of key lessons that can help anyone looking to start, grow, or support similar organizations in their community.

Additional resources:

These resources from other organizations can be helpful to anyone working to inform and organize parents. 

Bellwether will continue to learn from and support organizations in parent power, student/youth power, and ultimately community power in the years ahead, and we will share additional publications and resources on this page as they become available.


* We use the term “parent” to refer to any family or community member taking responsibility for the education and future of a child, including grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, and other family members. 

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