Rhode Island Foundation hosts Parent Academy Info Session with School & Main Institute


On March 26th, The Rhode Island Foundation brought together a unique gathering of educators, community-based practitioners and policy makers from across Rhode Island to learn about an effective and proven community-wide and school-based strategy that supports meaningful parent and family engagement: Parent Academies.

SMI uses a uniquely collaborative approach to developing a Parent Academy, where the community as a whole serves as the "Academy campus" and organizations work together as a collaborative network to deliver a wide (and strategic!) range of educational resources, coursework and other oppoortunities to build the skills, knowledge and know-how of parents and families to become full partners in their child’s education.

Andy Beck from SMI spoke to what the collective research tells us about the impact of this work: “Family involvement and student success are linked.  When parents are engaged in meaningful ways that provide opportunities for their own development and the development of their families and their children, student success goes up.  Parent Academies is a new tool that is showing promising results in engaging parents, developing effective communication and collaboration between school and home. Results that students begin to demonstrate through increased attendance, decreased behavioral issues and higher achievement.”  

Representatives from Westerly Public Schools and Springfield Public Schools shared their experiences and the path to building an Academy in their community.  While the two districts are vastly different – small and rural vs. large and urban – the positive impact on parents, families and students has been the same.  Academies can be developed at both the local level and district level.  Whether regionally focused or citywide, size doesn’t matter.  It’s the partnership and collective ownership of school and community stakeholders that make an Academy work. And this works for our children, our parents and our community! 


Springfield Parent Academy - College? YES! Weekend a success!

College? YES! is a city-wide effort to inspire and build the capacity for Springfield youth and families to aspire to attend and graduate from  college. And that by doing so, college becomes a realistic and attainable goal for all students and adults. Last fall in a unique and very successful collaboration we brought together young people, parents and families, schools, colleges, businesses, faith based organizations and our community based organizations to do so. Take a look and see where we went….

School & Main institute has worked as the planning facilitator with the schools and community to develop the College? Yes! model. As you can see by the smiling faces in this video, there is great promise in the work ahead!


Executive Director, Andy Beck, presents at the NAWDP Annual Meeting


School & Main Institute’s Executive Director, Andy Beck, spoke recently at the National Association of Workforce Professional Development Youth Symposium, November 12-14, 2012.  Andy had the opportunity to present to participants School & Main’s dynamic approach to “Making Collaboration Work”.  This presentation specifically covered keys to collaborative success including exploring mutual self-interest, taking collective action and organizing as partners to get the work done. Andy posed two very important questions: 

  • If collaboration is such a good idea and there is general agreement about the need to do so – why is it so hard?
  • How can we make the case for needing more (programs, pilots, etc.) when we haven’t connected what we already have?

A second presentation on Collaborative Case Management was made. Here, Andy went into greater detail describing SMI’s technique with at-risk youth support and community services.

“Frontline youth service professionals bring their most challenging youth cases to a regular, structured case conferencing forum where they strategize wraparound supports with colleagues from across the community or region. In the process, youth receive more holistic support, tailored to their needs, and program staff develop a much deeper knowledge of how to navigate and manage the vast array of services and opportunities available for their most at-risk clients.   On a parallel track, SMI works with organizations to develop a more seamless and collaborative system – one intake form, one permission form, one treatment plan, collaborative data access and other critical system features. “


College? YES! Initiative hits Springfield, MA

Mayor Dominick Sarno (above) addresses a large crowd of students, educators, parents, community and business leaders at the launch of the College? Yes! initiative in Springfield MA.

College? YES! is a city-wide effort to inspire and support higher education aspirations for Springfield families so that attending and graduating college becomes a realistic and attainable goal for all students and adults. A weekend of activities kicked off the effort – starting with a City hall Rally that drew over 300 attendees – continuing with age and stage appropriate programming in schools, after school programs, community based and faith based organizations, with a rolling rally across the city on Saturday a highlight of activity.

School & Main institute was the planning facilitator with the schools and community to develop the College? Yes! model and as you can see by the smiling faces below – there is great promise in the work ahead.



Secretary Paul Reville speaks at Wraparound Zone's Leadership & Learning Exchange

 On October 1, nearly 100 leaders in the MA DESE Wraparound Zone initiative came together in Worcester to discuss utilizing district “systems of support” to grow wraparound zone strategies over the next two years.   Andy Beck (from SMI) and Rebecca Shor from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education opened the meeting with a focus on how wraparound zone ideas and efforts can integrated into the way schools do businesses. They were joined by Secretary of Education, Paul Reville, who spoke to the critical need to address the social/emotional needs our students have if we hope to ensure that all of our children reach proficiency and are prepared for the 21st century workforce. Educators and community partners from around the state  shared what success in WAZ could look like and how leadership can support district systems this year and next.  There were seven district presentations, which focused on a particular "district system" emerging locally. Go to for more information about wraparound zone efforts in MA.

In a Nutshell

Founded in 1985 at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, School & Main Institute (SMI) has grown into a nationally recognized, independent non-profit training and partnership development organization that has worked with organizations and state agencies in more than 35 states.


School & Main Institute staff and faculty have years of expertise as organizational leaders, program developers, trainers, and facilitators in the fields of education, workforce preparation, youth and community development.

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