Equipped to Lead (and succeed!)
We don’t charge tuition or fees for our programs. Instead, we require a minimum investment of time in our parent engagement program from our kids’ caregivers in order to remain eligible for enrollment. From parenting classes to family fun nights to community events, this program - which we call Equip - has been one of the best things we’ve ever done. Ninety percent of our parents meet or exceed the minimum requirement each year, and that has allowed us to get to know them on a deeper level, which allows us to better meet their needs. What a blessing for all of us!
Another benefit of Equip is that is has empowered some of our parents to step into leadership roles within the program. We started to facilitate these opportunities last fall by creating a parent committee who was tasked with helping us plan and execute parent events throughout the school year. But one parent went beyond our initial expectations of leadership growth.
Michelle has been a parent with us for many years. All of her kids have come through our program and she has spoken many times about the positive impact that Fortress has had on her family. Last spring, during our weekly parent support group that Michelle always attended, she mentioned that it would be cool for Fortress to sponsor a couponing class. We thought this was a great idea, but as many people know, spring is our incredibly busy season! In that season of the year we host two of our biggest events: our annual Storyland Dinner & Auction and annual Fortress Literacy Carnival. There was little time to plan an extra parenting class.
That didn’t stop Michelle, though! She took it upon herself to organize the class for us. She knew another parent in the neighborhood who was an expert at couponing and had even begun to develop a curriculum to teach other parents. Michelle solicited her to teach the class for us and organized all the details of the day. She even helped us by marketing the class to other parents.
Michelle’s initiative to make this class happen inspired us to offer more opportunities for parents to organize and plan events this year. In that spirit, we have decided that this year we will allow our parents to entirely plan our Christmas program. They will be given a budget and be able to craft the program however they would like. Thanks to Michelle for giving us the vision to create more opportunities for our parents to take initiative and lead.
-Ethan Weber, Community Relations Coordinator
By the Numbers
- 54 out of 60 (90%) of our families completed enough parent engagement hours to re-enroll their children in our programs this schoolyear
- Parents initiated 19 contacts with Fortress to offer services or support to other Fortress students or families, up from 9 instances the previous year
- Parents participated in more parent conferences with Fortress staff than ever with 117 visits over the course of the year up from 97 conferences last year
- Parents logged a record 623 hours at Fortress-sponsored family events last year, up from 544 hours the previous year
- Total hours invested in the community, through Fortress, and through the local schools reached an all time high of 937 hours!
- 20 families sat on our parent committee to plan programming and offer feedback about our programs
Our thanks to the Morningside Parent Engagement Collaborative for funding our Equip program, and to the following agencies who have partnered with us to offer classes and services for our parents.