Parent engagement efforts get boost from clergy

New Haven clergly leaders teamed up with New Haven Public Schools, New Haven Promise and the United Way to knock on doors of families in Newhallville and Dixwell.
See the New Haven Register's coverage of the story here  and the New Haven Independent's coverage here.
NHPS press release:
Clergy will help recruit volunteers to knock on doors in Dixwell and Newhallville, reach out to African American men about the important role they play in their children’s lives
NEW HAVEN – In a new effort to empower parents and strengthen engagement among African American families, New Haven clergy leaders are teaming up with city and school leaders, New Haven Promise and the United Way of Greater New Haven to get the word out about new initiatives to boost parent involvement in education.
On Saturday, dozens of pairs of community and school district volunteers will fan out into Newhallville and Dixwell to visit New Haven students where they live and talk to their families about New Haven Promise and the upcoming Parent University New Haven, a day-long series of free workshops for parents. The canvass will go from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be based out of Lincoln-Bassett School, 130 Bassett St. Volunteers can register at
As influential leaders of the African American and Hispanic communities in New Haven, clergy leaders are joining the effort and helping engage parents and community members. On Wednesday, Mayor John DeStefano Jr., Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo, New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton and United Way of Greater New Haven President Jack Healy gathered with clergy leaders at Willie C’s Barber Shop on Dixwell Avenue to talk about the canvass and the importance of reaching out to parents.
Representing the clergy were the Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber, president of the Connecticut State Missionary Baptist Convention, and the Rev. James Newman, president of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association.
Clergy leaders will help recruit canvass volunteers and will reach out to African American men about the important role they play in their children’s lives. Over the coming days, clergy and school staff will be visit local businesses like barber shops and other establishments to drop off flyers and engage community members.
“The kindergarten canvass last month was a huge success, with 216 volunteers fanning out across the city to knock on the doors of 1,500 kindergarten families. I’m grateful to the community leaders and volunteers who have stepped forward to help make this next canvassing effort an equal success,” said Mayor DeStefano. “Family engagement and support is absolutely vital as we seek to provide every young person the opportunities and resources they need to succeed in college and beyond. I’m looking forward to speaking to families this weekend about New Haven Promise and Parent University.”

“If we get parents involved in their kids’ education in the early grades, these children will have a greater shot at success,” said Superintendent Mayo. “By visiting families in the neighborhoods where they live, we achieve a deeper form of engagement that shows our true commitment. Our families need to know about Parent University and New Haven Promise.”
“New Haven Promise is going door to door for the second year in a row because we believe that communicating directly with parents is a highly effective way to ensure that families understand how to access critical resources, like the Promise scholarship and Parent University,” Melton said. “We reach out to students through school, but we want everyone important in a student’s life—especially their family—to understand why Promise is important and how to qualify for Promise.”
"The more we talk with parents, the more we engage with families, the better chance we will have of insuring their child's success, and the success of our schools. Parental involvement makes a difference,” said Healy.
“As pastors of this community it is our responsibility to assist with community engagement efforts that put students and their families at the helm,” Rev. Kimber said. “We have joined this effort to positively engage fathers/men, particularly African American and Latino fathers in our city, so they can be at the forefront of taking advantage of some of these new educational initiatives. Fathers and male roles models are critical for our children, and we want men to become even more aware of the life changing role they play whether they are in the home with the child or not. We want to see our men at Parent University, learning about the Promise program and leading the charge to strengthen their family through education.”
“We support these efforts because they are giving New Haven families tools and resources to improve their lives,” Rev. Newman said. “As clergy, we know we must reach outside of the four walls of our churches to uplift our families in need and these initiatives are doing just that. I am pleased that the New Haven Public Schools are going to the families, visiting their homes, which is going to send a profound message. We hope and pray that parents and especially our men learn about these efforts, sign up and share the knowledge with their children.”
This is the second of three collaborative canvasses organized by the New Haven Public Schools, the City of New Haven, New Haven Promise, Boost! and United Way of Greater New Haven. The overall goal is to ensure that parents and guardians have the tools they need to help their students be successful.
For last month’s citywide Kindergarten Canvass, more than 200 volunteers knocked on 1,500 doors to welcome families and talk to them about how their children can be successful in school.
A schedule of upcoming parent and community engagement events is below:
Sept. 15 – New Haven Promise/Parent University Canvass in Newhallville and Dixwell
Oct. 13 – New Haven Promise/Boost! Canvass in Fair Haven and the Hill
Nov. 3 – Parent University at Gateway Community College, downtown
More information on New Haven Promise is here:
More information on UNGNH is here:
Sign up to help in September and/or October! Visit to register. For more information about volunteering, please contact Adriana Arreola at or 203-776-6473.