Community Partner Spotlight: Turning the Page

By Mishal Karim

Turning the Page (TTP), a community partner of GW SMARTDC, actively works with various schools in Ward 8 with DC schools, students, and families to encourage conversations around promoting literacy at home. Through vigorous programming that engages families, such as Community Night Events and Increasing Social Capital, TTP equips parents with skills to advocate for their children’s education. Both programming methods are interrelated and encourage parents to expand their networks by building relationships with teachers and school administrators. In Increasing Social Capital, for example, parents are connected with various resources to become advocates for their children’s success. Resources include free workshops and training opportunities on how to support learning at home such as social and emotional learning training and fun at-home math and science experiments.

“Part of the need we try to address is that schools don’t always have the capacity to engage with parents.” says Jenn Parisi, TTP Volunteer Coordinator. 

A cohort of GW volunteers serve at TTP’s weekly Community Night events that bring school administrators, parents, TTP, and students to the same table to foster a sense of community. Each event is hosted at a different partner school and consists of workshops for parents, literacy-based activities, and free book giveaways. In addition, the entire community sits down together to enjoy a free and healthy meal! Workshops feature different topics that address challenges of navigating the public school system and encouraging at-home learning.

The poverty rate in Ward 8 is very high and parents often work multiple jobs to make ends meet. This makes engaging parents in school programming a challenge.  Therefore TTP uses creative methods and relies heavily on the talents and energy of GW and other student participants to offer family programs. TTP offers an avenue for GW students to build lasting relationships with families and learn about the importance of family engagement.

Turning the Page is one of six SMARTDC community partners. If you have a Federal Work Study award or are able to volunteer your time to address the literacy gap, we encourage you to serve with SMARTDC. Please contact us at gwserves@gwu.edu.