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Survey Development

In summer 2021, we conducted five focus groups with parent leaders, staff from organizations focused on parent leadership and family engagement more broadly, and supporters of parent leadership who work at philanthropic organizations. We also conducted one-on-one interviews with two people who could not attend the focus groups. In total, we spoke to 27 people.

  • How they defined parent leadership and organizing,
  • The influence of parent leadership and organizing on children and youth,
  • Suggestions for the content of the survey, strategies for sharing it, and how they would use the findings.

These conversations heavily informed the survey instrument. We also adapted questions from other landscape analysis surveys, including the Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing (FCYO) Survey (Valladares et al., 2020) and the Faith-Based Community Organizing Survey (Warren & Wood, 2001). We asked all focus group/ interview participants, as well as other leaders in the field, for feedback on survey drafts and incorporated their feedback.


We identified the sampling pool of parent leadership and organizing groups through keyword searches in Google, GuideStar, and Facebook, using terms such as “parent leadership,” “parent organizing,” and “family engagement.” We also used affiliate lists from national organizations like United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN) and Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network). We included organizations that appeared from their website to a) work toward social, economic, and racial justice; b) work with parents/families; and c) have leadership development. When in doubt, we included the organization. This process yielded a database of 699 organizations.

 A total of 182 organizations ultimately took the survey. Thirteen organizations let us know that the survey was not a good fit for their organization because they did not do parent leadership development. Thus, our overall response rate was 26% (182 / 686). However, recall that many organizations in our database likely would not have qualified for the survey because they did not explicitly work with parents or families. Thus, we identified all organizations in our database that we knew worked with parents based on their organization name or personal relationships (n= 220). In addition to the 182 organizations that completed the survey, there were an additional 38 organizations that we believe would have qualified for the survey but that did not complete it. Thus, our response rate from this focused sample of parent leadership and organizing groups was 83% (182 / 220).

Data Collection

Participants completed the survey online through Qualtrics in either English or Spanish. (Only a few completed the survey in Spanish). The survey was officially open from January to May 2022 with the majority of responses completed in February3. We asked organizations to either designate one person to complete the survey or to take the survey as a group. Survey respondents performed a variety of roles; the most common role was executive director or president, but many identified as program managers, coordinators, and organizers.

We e-mailed the survey link to everyone in our database multiple times. Our networks also shared the survey in their newsletters and listservs. In cases where there was no email address on the website or when emails bounced back and we could not find a replacement, we called organizations, messaged them on Facebook, and/ or messaged staff on LinkedIn. We offered a $20 e-gift card as a small thank you for their time. We also held a virtual informational meeting where invitees could learn more about the survey and ask questions (31 people attended). In another email communication, we shared real-time data so organizations who had not yet completed the survey could see how the data were being used. We also made targeted calls to organizations that we were certain worked with parents.


The survey included both closed-ended and open-ended questions and took approximately 20 minutes to complete. Closed-ended questions addressed organizational information (e.g. geography, demographics, issue areas); programming (e.g. topics covered, services offered, parent decision-making); additional information (e.g. funding, staffing). Open-ended questions asked about recent organizational wins, what is unique about the organization, and approaches to engaging children.

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