The Association of Alaska School Boards won a $100,000 grant to develop resources to more closely involve families in the education process from the Carnegie Corporation on Tuesday. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The Association of Alaska School Boards won a $100,000 grant to develop resources to more closely involve families in the education process from the Carnegie Corporation on Tuesday. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Education advocacy organization earns major grant

It’ll help develop resources to help teachers work with families to improve educational outcomes.

The Association of Alaska School Boards, an advocacy organization for providing quality public education across the state, was awarded $100,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York the foundation announced.

The grants focused on family engagement, one of the most important factors in educational outcomes, said Lisa X’unyéil Worl, a family engagement specialist at AASB, who helped put together the proposal.

“Family involvement is a more accurate predictor of student achievement than family income,” Worl said in a phone interview. “They perform better. Their attendance increases. Graduation rates increase when families see each other as equal partners in student success.”

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The grant will allow for a one-year program as AASB works with three separate school districts to develop tools to help instruct teachers in how to more effectively make parents part of their child’s education, Worl said.

“Our educators are wonderful. They’re great teachers,” Worl said. “When kids go home, who else can support the kids’ education?”

The AASB will work with the Juneau School District, Lower Kuskokwim School District and Saint Mary’s School District to develop these tools by working with staff and families, Worl said.

“These were each communities that had expressed some interest in maybe already done some work,” Worl said. “We’re building on work we’ve already done. We have some working relationships in these communities. And we have community partners in some of these communities.”

The concept is not a new one for the AASB, Worl said, but represents the next step in improving partnerships between schools and families. The AASB has previously done work in this area with their framework “Stronger Together: The Power of Family and School Partnerships.”

“It’s an Alaskanized version of the Dual Capacity-Building Framework,” Worl said. “We did it with the input of school board members, community partners from across alaska, and school staff.”

This year, beginning in the autumn, the AASB will work with families and staff in the selected school districts to develop new tools to reinforce those partnerships.

“A couple of building block areas are helping districts create some lessons for links to learning. When they’re teaching is the ways the educators can teach or set up their classroom structures or information they share that include family components,” Worl said. “That doesn’t require that our families become experts in math or science.”

Bringing families into the learning process will have to be intentional and systemic, Worl said — from the top down in school districts.

This is the first time the AASB has won a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Worl said; it’s an exciting award. Nine other organizations nationwide also won grants of the same amount.

“We were gratified by the tremendous response to the (request for proposal), the caliber and creativity of the submissions, and the competitive process that surfaced our 10 grantees,” said Ambika Kapur, program officer for the corporation’s public understanding portfolio of grants, in a news release. “These nonprofits are meeting the distinct needs of their communities. They are overcoming barriers and enabling educators and parents to be true partners in helping students thrive. As we emerge from the pandemic, these collaborations will remain essential to student learning and to the nation’s recovery.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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