Forward Together Building a Field that Works for Families

A well-established research base has demonstrated the value of families to student and school success. However, coordinated efforts to improve family engagement and strengthen the family-to-school conection have been limited. In "Forward Together Building a Field that Works for Families, we report on the state of the family engagement field.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) recognized the opportunity to strengthen family-to-school connections and launched a new portfolio aimed at improving the field of family engagement. Five years after its launch, CCNY engaged CPRL to analyze the field that currently supports family-school connections.

To understand the state of the family engagement field, we studied the academic literature on family and community engagement, including work conducted by EY-Parthenon; interviewed staff at 27 foundations and funding groups and staff at 17 organizations focused on family engagement; and analyzed more than 100 websites. 

In doing so, we found:

  1. A field-level agenda exists and rests on a solid research base.
  2. The field-level agenda recognizes effective family engagement as a core driver of student outcomes.
  3. A growing and diversifying coalition of foundations and organizations surround family engagement efforts, including community-based organizations.
  4. Funding structures are beginning to move toward family and community leadership.
  5. A more established and inclusive infrastructure exists, and it forms the connective tissue in the field, including national and regional intermediaries and learning collaboratives. 

Read the report to learn more.



This project was made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. We are especially grateful to Ambika Kapur, Constanza Lafuente, and Ashley Arana for sharing their expertise and guidance. Finally, we’d like to thank the funders and family engagement leaders who contributed so generously to this project. In the midst of an especially challenging year, they took the time to express their commitment to this work and lend their expertise to the development of this paper.