Today, we are happy to announce that we are more than doubling Parent University sites from five to 13– one for every Network in the District. As part of our vision for deepening family engagement, Parent University provides meaningful ways for parents to become involved with their children’s schools. It also gives families the chance to continue their education through classes and online learning opportunities.

To date, Parent University has enriched the lives of more than 3,000 parents, including Vanessa Espinoza, whose three children currently attend Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, and who has been part of the Parent University program since its inception in 2015. Here is what she had to say about her Parent University experience:

Q. How has Parent University helped enrich your experience with CPS?

A. Participating in this program helped me become a parent leader at my school. I was able to learn a lot about how CPS programs work, especially the process for applying to different schools and choosing the right one for my children. I was glad to be able to take that information back to the other parents at my school and help them understand their options.

Q. What resources do parents find most valuable?

A. It’s different for everyone. I know a lot of parents who love the technology training, and others who have improved their job skills. For me, the best thing has been getting guidance on how to help my children with their homework, especially when it comes to Math.

Q. What is the most unique skill you’ve developed through Parent University?

A. A lot of schools have nonprofit organizations that are led by parents. I always wanted to do this at my children’s’ school, but I did not know how. Parent University helped me do the research and follow the steps for creating a non-profit. Thanks to their help, I’m now in the process of forming the Friends of Gunsaulus, which will focus on creating enrichment opportunities for our kids, including a trip to Washington, D.C.

Q. How have your children benefited from your involvement with Parent University?

A. There’s no question that it’s had an impact, especially when it comes to their schoolwork. I grew up in Nicaragua, and though I’m a computer engineer, the way I learned things is totally different from the Common Core Standards. The staff at Parent University helped me understand the way things are taught here so that I could help my children be successful. I am grateful to Parent University for empowering me so that I can empower my kids.

Q. What are your thoughts on the expansion of Parent University?

A. I think it will be a great opportunity to support more CPS parents. No matter what your situation, Parent University is a place to go for help. It’s a place to ask questions, learn to advocate for yourself and your child, and become involved in your school community. There is a lot that parents do not know, and expanding Parent University is a great way to change that and to help CPS families succeed.

In addition to current sites at Spencer Elementary, Clemente High School, Smyth Elementary, Dyett High School and Corliss High School, the following new locations will be established as part of the Parent University expansion:

Cleveland Elementary (Summer 2017)
Sullivan High School (Summer 2017)
Logandale Elementary (Summer 2017)
Perez Elementary (May 2017)
Gage Park High School (Summer 2017)
Bogan High School (Summer 2017)
Joplin Elementary (Summer 2017)
Bouchet Elementary (Summer 2017)

Additionally, five Parent University Training Centers – the newest facet of CPS’ unique Parent University model – are also part of this expansion. These centers offer similar programming and resources to Parent Universities, but they are run and administered by enthusiastic volunteer parent ambassadors who are eager to help spread knowledge and services to their surrounding communities. The new parent University Training Center Locations are being established at the following sites:

Earle Elementary (Currently Open)
Fenger High School (Currently Open)
Miles Davis Elementary (Currently Open)
Michelle Clark High School (Summer 2017)
Steinmetz High School (Summer 2017)

Parent University is completely free to all CPS families. Parents can sign up at chicagocityoflearning.org/parentuniversity.

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