This 2013-17 website was created to inform Philadelphia stakeholders—families, teachers, school staff, principals, and community leaders—about FAST goals and activities. Between 2013-2017, the project served more than 5,000 elementary students and their families in 60 elementary schools.

Investing in Innovation (i3)

Our i3 Investing in Family Engagement Project was awarded $15 million by the U.S. Department of Education for a five-year (2013-2017) project to advance student learning and school turnaround.  Partners include—

Implementing FAST® in Urban Philadelphia Elementary Schools

We are working with principals, teachers, parents, and local agency partners at 58 urban public schools that were selected based on standardized test measures and principal approval.   With on-the-ground partners, we are reaching out to K-2 families to—

  • Build and strengthen bridges between home and school—to better support young children and their learning
  • Empower adults and children alike with new skills
  • Expand parent networks
  • Improve classroom climate

Evaluating FAST® Impacts

American Institutes for Research is conducting a Randomized Control Trial and quasi-experiment, along with an extreme case analysis, to evaluate individual- and classroom-level impacts of FAST on participating families.

Focus groups with parents/guardians and individual interviews with FAST leaders and program implementers provide important qualitative insights about our implementation experience.

All findings will be disseminated to policymakers and practitioners at meetings and through articles featuring practical lessons that school and district leaders might use as they implement after-school family engagement programs.  Some of these will be featured in reports released by the American Institutes for Research, as well as through articles released at the Wisconsin Center for Education Ressearch.

Look for a special issue of the Social Innovations Journal in Spring 2018 to glean important takeaways about the requirements of strengthening family engagement in urban school districts.


American Institutes for Research (AIR) Reports

PDFFAST in Philadelphia: Exploring the Implementation of a Family Engagement Program

PDFInvesting in Innovation (i3) Validation Study of Families and Schools Together (FAST) Final Report

“Buy-In” vs. “Allowed In”: Lessons Learned in Family Engagement Program Recruitment and Retention
In the Annenberg Institute's August issue of VUE (Voices in Urban Education) PhillyFAST-i3's Susan Smetzer-Anderson and Jackie Roessler discuss how parent focus groups reveal insights about the communication, collaboration, and community buy-in needed for successful family engagement in an under-resourced urban district.

i3 Video

See FAST at work in Philly schools—with families, teachers, and staff leaders.


FAST: Families & Schools TogetherAIR: American Institutes for ResearchTurning Points for ChildrenThe School District of PhiladelphiaThe University of Wisconsin-Madison