Kindred starts by building authentic relationships between diverse groups of parents through structured dialogues about their backgrounds, race and equity, and goals for their children. The honest conversations and resulting bonds enable parents to really see each other and to better understand how each parent in a school contributes valuable ideas, time, and resources that can benefit all children. Parents culminate their dialogue group with an action they take together that addresses the root cause of inequity in their school.
Kindred’s second year of school support is focused on training and coaching parent dialogue participants to lead their own groups, reaching approximately 20 percent of the school community’s parent population by year’s end. Through these relationships, and the collective action taken by parents, a culture of equity and inclusion takes root. Parents develop ways to contribute meaningfully to eliminate advantage differences in their schools, engendering further collective and individual action in support of each family and student.
In the third year, Kindred coaches and supports parents to create or strengthen their parent organization to continue the work they have begun, such as the school’s parent association.
Diversity is a buzz word. There aren’t many safe places to talk about the difficulty of diversity – the fear, the bias. I hold myself back because I don’t want to look different or stupid. Diversity becomes very rich when you can start talking with each other. This has been so unique. I don’t know any other group where you can do that.”
-Marie Reed Parent
“It’s the unspoken that hinders children’s lives.” – DC parent
Kindred works in public and traditional elementary schools. The program’s first year is focused on building trust and authentic relationships among diverse parents. To do this, Kindred facilities small-group dialogues with parents who represent the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the student body. During meetings, parents bond through facilitated dialogues about identity, race, equity and aspirations for their children. The honest conversations and resulting relationships enable parents to really see each other and begin to take action that benefits the entire school community.
Kindred’s second year of programming is focused on converting the empathy and cultural competency strengthened through parent dialogues into actions. The issues are identified by parents, and may include a range of interventions, from making family school events more inclusive, to developing new ways for parents to build relationships, to creating specific academic programs that provide extra resources to students who need them.
Kindred supports parents to transform their school’s parent organizational bodies into equity-driven action groups. For example, in Kindred’s pilot program, the parent-teacher organizations now runs meetings that better reflect the school’s diversity, which in turn elevates the voices of traditionally marginalized families to influence decisions such as how the school’s budget should be allocated.