The goal of Families and Schools Together (FAST) is to empower each child to be successful at home, in school, and in the community.

In many different cultures, in 48 states and 20 countries, FAST has made a difference in the lives of children, families, schools, and communities. The nonprofit organization, Families and Schools Together, Inc. is one of five partners supporting the PhillyFAST-i3 project in 60 Philadelphia elementary schools, 2013-2017.

Program Overview

A research-based program developed by Dr. Lynn McDonald, FAST is an 8-9 week program full of activities that empower parents and children alike. All the activities seem fun on the surface. However, each activity is supported by research and has an important purpose—

  • to help children express their feelings and thoughts
  • to give parents new tools to build their child’s self-esteem
  • to remind children of the value of respecting and serving their parents and guardians
  • to give parents and guardians time to interact with other school parents, to share ideas and concerns
  • to build bridges between family and school
  • to empower children with confidence to make good choices and seek success—at school, in their home, and in the community

A Typical FAST Session

Each 2.5 hour session over the 8-9 weeks includes:
Hour 1: A healthy, free meal, and family activities
Hour 2: Time for parents to meet, apart from their children. During Parents Time, no children or school staff are present. Parents promise to protect each other’s privacy. During this hour, children go to Kids Time, where they enjoy supervised play or school-related activities.

Lottery & Winning as a Family

Every week a family takes home a full basket of items, including games, plus money to supply one meal to the group.  (Each family is guaranteed to win once). In this way, families give and receive as members of a healthy community.

WHO is invited to attend FAST at i3 project schools?

Kindergarten–2nd grade families are ALL invited to attend FAST this school year.

Which family members are invited?

ALL of them. All members of your family, living with you, or extended, might attend FAST. Everyone gains from attending this program.

Often, grandparents will bring grandchildren. Single parents and foster parents also attend with their students/children.  Each family is unique and special; all are valued and welcomed in FAST. The program is built to be multicultural—to serve all the diverse families that attend Philadelphia schools, including families who speak languages other than English.

How is FAST scheduled?

FAST Program Days are assigned for each school, and FAST sessions are scheduled for 2.5 hours after school. You are invited to attend the program, even if you missed the first week(s). Some programs might be held in the evenings for parents with conflicting work schedules. Parents and guardians who want to attend but are unable—due to work schedules—should let their school’s Turning Points’ Manager know.

Who leads FAST sessions?

A TEAM, which includes:
• Parent FAST graduates
• Teacher or school members
• Recreation coordinators, and 
• Community and agency partners

Want to learn more?  Check out our Parent Frequently Asked Questions!

FAST: Families and Schools Together

FAST®—A Model Program

FAST makes a difference according to the United Nations, National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, Promising Practices Network, and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

A Decade of Experience in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, the nonprofit agency, Turning Points for Children, has conducted Kids FAST programs for 11 years.  In this brief video a parent talks about her experience with Kids FAST at Kearny Elementary School in Philadelphia.

Save the Children + FAST® in UK Schools

In the United Kingdom, Save the Children has helped set up FAST in schools. FAST crosses cultures and language groups. Activities help children tap into their strengths, build self-esteem, and equip parents to support their child’s learning. This 3-minute Save the Children video highlights families’ FAST experience in Edinburgh. 


Family Fun Events with FASTWORKS®

ALL Grade 1-2 families in 2015-16 were invited to monthly Family Fun events. These special events were organized using FASTWORKS®—to bring families and schools together to have fun, network, and share tools for success in school and life.  

Events were organized by teams that include Grade 1-2 parents.  Meetings usually include:

  • Family games
  • A special topic or guest chosen by the group
  • Parent time
  • Kid recreation time

Ideas for Special Events and Topics

Every month, groups received $100 to help fund activities.  Activities could happen at school or at another location, such as a museum. Our i3 team provided a list of possible events or activities for groups to brainstorm. 

Field Trip Options:

School-based Social Activity Options:

  • Bingo / Game Night
  • Coat Exchange
  • Culture Night
  • Comfort Food Potluck
  • Family Carnival Theme
  • Family Photo Shoot Day
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Inside Out (the movie) Activities are available online.
  • Read Aloud with Scavenger Hunt for items mentioned in the book
  • Stone Soup Activity


family fun

Success in 2nd Grade

Success in 2nd Grade was created in response to the SDP Early Childhood Education Department’s drive to advance the district’s “Read by Fourth” initiative. Our i3 team dedicated extra time and resources to collaboratively create a special program that featured literacy instruction. During 2015-2016, this special Success in 2nd Grade program was piloted at 29 schools. Teacher buy-in was significant.

At Success in 2nd sessions, a teacher met with parents and guardians to discuss 2nd Grade students’ learning and literacy. Parents were exposed to what their children were learning in the classroom. Teachers also shared insights about ways parents might reinforce learning at home. Success in 2nd Grade was scheduled several times across the school year. FAST activities were also included in sessions.

Success in 2nd Grade Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)