The Annenberg Institute’s Rosann Tung a Speaker at News Briefing Announcing Collaboration

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. – School, government, hospital, business and foundation officials jointly announced on March 4 a federally and privately funded collaboration in the Central Falls School District aimed at increasing family engagement as a lever for improving school readiness and academic achievement of 1,000 high-need, pre-school-to-third-grade students at five schools.

Participants at the news briefing included Central Falls School District Superintendent Frances Gallo, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. 

Underwritten by a nearly $3 million “Investing in Innovation” (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), the project -- entitled “We are a Village” – establishes a partnership between the Central Falls School District; Children’s Friend (a local early childhood and social service provider); Bradley Early Childhood Clinical Research Center (a clinical service and professional training agency within Hasbro Children’s Hospital); and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR), as the program’s professional service providers.

“We are a Village” will focus on improving school readiness and academic achievement of young children from traditionally underserved groups by increasing family engagement with their teachers and schools and implementing a three-tiered, research-based approach of prevention, identification and intervention to support children’s social and emotional competencies.

The DOE grant required nearly $450,00 in additional private fund-raising; donors supporting the program are Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Rhode Island Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rivard Family.

AISR will serve as the evaluator of the project, supporting its planning and implementation and gathering evidence that helps the partnership assess and report the degree to which the program is benefitting children, their parents, their teachers and their schools.

“It is a privilege to be part of such a promising initiative for families and children in Central Falls,” said Rosann Tung, AISR’s director of Research & Policy. “Our job as evaluation partner is to serve as an objective mirror for the work, keeping project goals in mind, and asking constructive questions so adjustments can be made as needed.  We know from our previous work in Central Falls how serious district and school leaders are about using data in guiding decision-making and refining strategies to improve student outcomes.  We are looking forward to getting started.”

The program will utilize the research-based Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework to shape parent and family engagement, as well as the evidenced-based Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management and Parent Programs to help achieve their objectives.

“We already know that our partners are of one mind about increasing equity and opportunity, which is at the heart of the program’s mission and design,” added Tung.

“As a national demonstration project, Rhode Island cities and towns and the rest of the nation are eager to learn the lessons of Central Falls.”


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