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Minnesota Comeback, the J.D. Graves Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the Minneapolis Foundation share a commitment to advancing family and community voice in education systems change. We share an understanding that many of the complex and persistent challenges in Minnesota’s public schools are rooted in the education system itself. And we share a belief that families are the most credible stakeholders in education systems change. Our organizations approach this work in different ways and are at different points along a trajectory of supporting parent engagement. Nevertheless, we recognized enough alignment in our respective work to embark on a shared learning journey, hoping to better understand how community members define successful family engagement for systems change.

To that end, we sponsored a community convening on November 14, 2017. With nearly 30 partners reflecting the diversity of our community and bringing perspectives and insights rooted in community experience, we explored the topic of family engagement, public education and systems change. The participatory format was comprised of small group dialogue, collective visioning and presentations by three community organizers who shared their experiences leading successful systems change efforts in the Twin Cities. The presentations ignited discussions and ideas for deeper inquiry and application as we work to recognize and amplify family engagement in education.

This document presents a summary and synthesis of our conversations in November. The convening supported our own learning about family engagement for systems change, and we hope that it ignites similar reflection for readers. We remain deeply grateful to the community partners who shared their wisdom and insights with us, and who represent the true “authors” of the ideas presented here.