To inform survey development and how the results should be used, we conducted focus groups and interviews with parent leaders, staff from parent leadership and organizing groups, and funders who support these groups across the country. We simultaneously created a list of parent leadership and organizing groups (our sampling pool), which we compiled through keyword searches in GuideStar (nonprofit database), Google, and Facebook, using terms such as “parent leadership,” “parent organizing,” and “family engagement.”
We also referenced affiliate lists from national organizations including 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 list of 699 organizations, casting a wide net of organizations, both large and small, which we reached by email or phone. A total of 182 organizations ultimately took the survey in late 2021 and 2022. While this means our overall response rate is 26%, when we consider the organizations that we identify as explicitly working with parents (e.g., they indicate this in their name), our response rate is 83%.
We note a few limitations with our methods.
First, there are many more parent leadership organizations, particularly newer or smaller organizations, that either did not respond to the survey or whom we did not find through our web based searches and networks. Nonetheless, findings are a partial snapshot of the field and cannot be generalized across all parent leadership organizations.
Second, some respondents did not answer all the questions or did not complete the whole survey. Thus, some of the response counts shared below do not add up to 182, the full sample size.
Finally, we may have inadvertently included some parent leadership and organizing groups that could be deemed as too top-down with not enough parent voice. A survey cannot tell us the degree to which organizations fully embrace the key features shared earlier on effective parent leadership and organizing groups. Determining the authenticity of a group requires in-depth conversations and ideally observation. Nonetheless, the survey offers a comprehensive snapshot of trends on who is predominantly doing this work, the issues they are working on, how they are engaging children and more.
A more detailed Methods section is available in Appendix B.
Read Findings I Section