Funds Underwrite Phase II of Pittsburgh Parent Power Initiative


PROVIDENCE – The Heinz Endowments renewed its significant commitment to capacity building among Pittsburgh Public School parents with a two-year,
$700,000 technical assistance grant to Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR), the second award in two years, it was announced today. 

This new funding builds upon an initial, two-year, $450,000 grant awarded to AISR in December, 2013, for an initiative called Parent Power, which focused on working directly with ten Pittsburgh-based community organizations during 2014-2015 to help them gain a deeper understanding of education organizing and its potential to improve urban public schools, and to build the capacity necessary to assert their leadership and “voice” to effect desired changes. 

The second grant will focus on direct financial support for at least three projects emerging from the community organizations that have the most potential to convert into successful parent-led organizing campaigns concentrated on school solutions. AISR will continue to provide technical assistance and support for all community organizations as well as the selected campaigns. 

“Policymakers, education leaders and other stakeholders are recognizing the need for authentic, ‘bottom-up,’ community-driven school reforms, particularly in urban districts where families and youth have been historically excluded from the most important conversations dictating the future of their public schools,” said Warren Simmons, AISR executive director. “It’s critical to employ education organizing approaches that develop the leadership skills and capacity of community members to effectively influence and contribute to education policy development and innovation. The Heinz Endowments has generously embraced the axiom that for education organizing to be successful, continued investments in capacity-building efforts and direct supports must be made. “ 1043

The Pittsburgh Parent Power initiative was spurred by an AISR-conducted research scan in spring 2013, which indicated that while there wasn’t deep or widespread family engagement and education organizing evident in Pittsburgh communities and schools, substantial potential existed. Based on the equity-driven principle that viable education policy must include the voices, perspectives, ideas and expertise of parents, educators, youth and other grassroots community leaders, particular attention should be paid to supporting and developing the capacity of low-income communities and communities of color to engage them as leaders in education reform to ensure that changes and innovations reflect the interests, values and principles of equity and justice. 

“As school boards, administrators, and teachers pursue a collaborative school reform agenda for students and families, they must be intentionally inclusive of parents and a larger community to arrive at the common goal of equitable and transformational education,” said Stanley Thompson, director of The Heinz Endowments’ Education Program. “The Endowments is convinced that funding the Pittsburgh Parent Power initiative prepares leadership to this end.” 

More information about the Pittsburgh Parent Power project


About The Heinz Endowments

The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.