CULTR recognizes that parents and the broader community are vital components of the education ecosystem and seeks to empower families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds with information, data, and talking points to advocate on their children’s behalf for greater access to high-quality language education.
The Family and Community Initiative seeks to directly engage parents and leaders in urban communities in discussing their children’s access to language programs and global skills training, while also highlighting the many benefits of language learning for students of all ages and from all backgrounds. Two projects are included in this initiative: (1) the Family and Community Toolkit and (2) the Family and Community Language Information Camp.
During its first cycle of funding, CULTR developed toolkits to prepare event participants for the experience and offer additional resources, as well as strategies, for event-related lesson planning. While events like World Languages Day target high school students and projects like STARTALK aim to reach elementary school-age learners, this toolkit will be designed specifically for middle school students. Materials will offer families—especially those in lower socioeconomic areas or metropolitan Atlanta—strategies to advocate for the support of language programs at their schools. CULTR has been in communication with the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) in the U.S. Department of Education and will model the Family Toolkit on what the OELA has developed for English-language learners. The purpose of the Family Toolkit developed by CULTR is to address the opportunity gap in language education by empowering families who lack the education, experience, or political or social capital to promote language education at their schools and in their districts. With information about careers and salaries, talking points, and strategies to determine effectiveness in language programs, families will be better equipped to advocate for a curriculum that will make all students, irrespective of race and socioeconomic status, global ready.
Following the ParentCamp model established by the U.S. Department of Education, the Family and Community Language Camp will be a free, one-day unconference held at a local school. The event will provide an opportunity for those within the school ecosystem—parents, teachers, students, as well as community and faith-based representatives—to expand relationships, strengthen partnerships, share, network, and learn. The Family and Community Toolkit will be presented as a printed resource to all attendees, and serve to provide CULTR with additional feedback regarding relevance, usefulness, and design of the materials that can be collected and integrated into subsequent versions of the toolkits and camps.