Capacity Building Initiative for Family Engagement

The 2-year Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) for Family Engagement cohort engaged 12 nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organizations in a participant-driven capacity building model to empower families in K-12 educational systems. The goal of CBI was to help participants deepen their efforts to engage families, and ultimately, create more culturally responsive, welcoming, and hospitable schools for BIPOC families by strengthening their internal capacity.

This program was rooted in the belief that families and communities should be seen and supported as leaders and full partners in the schools, that their partnership and participation in schools is a pathway to systems change, and that they play a critical role in advocating for improved school, district, and state policies and practices. This program was built on a hybrid of self-determined, individualized capacity building activities coupled with cohort learning and relationship building. This multifaceted approach included 5 areas:

1. Organizational Assessment

Propel Nonprofits’ strategic consultants conducted an organizational assessment for each participant to better understand their organizations’ needs and opportunities. Assessment results were used to develop a custom capacity building plan, goals, and timeline.

2. Grant Support

Grants totaling more than $1 million were distributed during the 2-year cohort to the 12 organizations in the following category areas: general operating, professional development, capacity for change, and opportunity funds. All grantees were required to submit financial and program updates.

3. Convenings

Organizations participated in 1 to 2 all-group convenings annually, including a program launch, to form connections and share achievements, aspirations, and common capacity goals. At least one convening would focus on collaboration.

4. Learning Labs

Organizations participated in quarterly nonprofit management/leadership trainings on topics including fiscal management, evaluation, donor relations, communications, board development, and more, based on organizational assessments and program participant input.

5. Responsive Technical Assistance

Propel staff provided one-on-one support, acting as a partner, guide, and coach as organizations implemented their capacity building plans.

The CBI for Family Engagement was made possible with funding from and partnership with the McKnight Foundation and The Minneapolis Foundation.