Green Dot students do not study, struggle, or succeed alone—they do so in partnership with their families and neighbors, whose fates are intricately tied to the health of the communities in which they live, work, study, and play. At Green Dot, we go beyond community engagement to empower parents; strengthening the skills required to become powerful and informed for themselves, their children, and their neighbors. One way we do this is through partnering with United Parents and Students (UPAS) to regularly host Community Breakfasts at our schools. Last month, Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School, off Manchester, brought together school leaders, parents, local service providers, and the broader community together to discuss desired change.
“I became involved with UPAS because I was interested in seeing how I could help better my community.” — Claudia Leon, Ánimo Westside parent
“I became involved with UPAS because I was interested in seeing how I could help better my community,” said Claudia Leon, Ánimo Westside parent. Effective parental and community engagement is more than simply inviting parents into the classroom to volunteer with clerical tasks, but to educate and help parents become advocates for positive change in the broader community. We work with parents to find out what skills they’d like to develop and what type of resources would best help them. With the feedback they received from parents, Ánimo Westside invited representatives from LAPD, Mar Vista Family Center, Helper Foundation, Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Angels At Risk, Venice Family Clinic, EveryoneOn, and Latino Resource Organization to the community breakfast last month. The breakfast provided the space for parents to form personal relationships with other parents as well as relationships with local organizations.
Through our partnership with UPAS, we are helping parents become leaders in their communities. In addition to Community Breakfasts, our schools also host weekend Parent Academy workshops, which help strengthen parents’ understanding across a wide range of topics and issues that most affect their children and how they can take action.
Each workshop is led by a school staff member or community partner who is well versed on that specific topic. Similar to the Community Breakfast, the workshop topics are determined by parents. The most recent workshops have focused on homework assistance strategies, the power of positive parenting, increasing student literacy, planning for college, and recent changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
We truly see our students’ parents as partners and seek to meaningfully involve them in the achievement of their children and improvement of their community. We want to help our families develop a platform to collaborate and build solutions that make a true difference in the lives of their children and neighborhoods. “Being involved has given me a different perspective, and shown me that I truly have a voice,” said Leon.