$3 million grant to strengthen family engagement in Providence schools

Providence, R.I. (February 18, 2014) -- The research is clear: Family involvement is
a strong predictor for a student's success in school, and the
"transition-to-kindergarten" period is critical in establishing relationships
between families and schools.
Senator Jack Reed, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras
gathered today along with officials from the Providence Public School Department
(PPSD) and Ready to Learn Providence (R2LP) (a program of The Providence Plan) to
announce a competitive $3 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education's
Investing in Innovation Fund (i3). Providence was one of 25 sites chosen from among
600 applications. With the support of the grant, Providence Schools and Ready to
Learn Providence will engage parents, teachers and other school personnel in a
program titled "Empowering Families." At the heart of this initiative is Mind in the
Making, an eight-session course that covers the seven life skills every child needs
to succeed.

"Starting early and partnering with families are essential to helping kids succeed
and I am pleased to have helped make these federal Investing in Innovation (i3)
competitive grants possible to expand the reach of Mind in the Making.  This is a
great platform for engaging families in their children's learning and in their
schools, giving parents and teachers a common language as they focus on the social,
emotional, and academic development of children in these critical early years," said
Reed, the author of the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2013 (S. 1291), which
seeks to target capacity-building and technical assistance for effective family
engagement strategies, while encouraging state and school district flexibility to
identify programming that works best for individual communities.
"Through this program, with the commitment from their families and educators, Rhode
Island's elementary school students will have another opportunity to achieve and
succeed," Chafee said. "At a time when the state's education system is focused on
closing the 'skills gap,' Empowering Families is a key partnership in this vital
effort."
"The Investing in Innovation (i3) grant is an important partnership for our
Providence schools and is another part of our efforts to put children on a path to
success," said Mayor Angel Taveras. "This innovative curriculum will empower
families to make informed decisions about how to develop lifelong learners and
support students in their earliest years."

"We are excited to partner with Ready to Learn Providence, and thrilled to have the
support of this grant, to amplify our outreach to families," said Providence Schools
Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi. "In the long term, we envision a robust set of
similar programs, and this is a fantastic first step."
In Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, author
Ellen Galinsky has identified the skills that students who reach their full
potential in school - and in life - typically possess. These "executive function
skills"- the skills that manage our emotions, intellect and behavior, such as focus
and self-control - are the skills that allow us to reach our goals. Galinsky,
co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, was represented by an associate at
today's gathering, but sent her words of support.

"We are thrilled to be working with Providence thanks to an i3 grant from the
Department of Education to bring Mind in the Making's learning communities and our
movement to keep the fire for learning burning brightly in children's eyes to
Providence families," said Galinsky.
The press conference was held in an apt location, at the Young -Woods Elementary
School adjacent to the Student Registration Center, the first contact most families
have with the schools. This winter R2LP and the Providence Community Library
transformed a space in the center into an early learning nook, filling it with books
and activities for families waiting to register their children for kindergarten. "It
is a point of invitation," says R2LP Director Leslie Gell.  "It tells parents the
schools care about them and want their involvement. And by reaching them eight
months before their children enter kindergarten, it's a great opportunity to tell
them about some of the ways they can prepare their children for school."

Participation in a Mind in the Making class, which will be offered in English and
Spanish, is one of the best ways parents can strengthen the school readiness of
their children. Many educators contend that competence in executive function skills
is more important at school entry than knowledge of letters and numbers. And
research shows us that adults can indeed teach and promote these skills at home and
in the classroom.
Unlike many family engagement initiatives, Empowering Families will create
opportunities for families and school professionals to learn together. With 2,580
families, 240 PPSD teachers and 160 other school personnel participating in Mind in
the Making over the next four years, we will create a springboard for discussion
among the adults in a child's life. In addition to the parents and caregivers
recruited at kindergarten registration, the class will be offered to families and
school personnel (K-Grade 3) at all 21 elementary schools in Providence over the
course of the grant.
In awarding this grant, the U.S. Department of Education requires substantial
matching funds. That effort is underway thanks to the support of United Way of R.I.,
The Rhode Island Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation and The Campaign for
Grade-Level Reading for their support, and PPSD and R2LP continue to seek additional
resources.

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The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) program provides funding to local educational
agencies (LEAs) and nonprofit agencies in partnership with an LEA to implement
innovative practices that improve student achievement or growth. It is administered
by the U.S. Department of Education.
Ready to Learn Providence is a 10-year-old school-readiness initiative that works
with families and educators so that all young children will be ready to learn. For
more information, go to www.r2lp.org<http://www.r2lp.org>. It is a program of The
Providence Plan, www.provplan.org<http://www.provplan.org>.
Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of Families and Work Institute (FWI),
helped establish the field of work and family life at Bank Street College of
Education, where she was on the faculty for 25 years. Her more than 45 books and
reports include the best-selling Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills
Every Child Needs, Ask The Children, the now classic The Six Stages of Parenthood
and the highly acclaimed Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible
Workplaces. She has published over 125 articles in academic journals, books and
magazines. http://www.familiesandwork.org/

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