Philly i3 Schools in the News

At Samuel Gompers, ‘kids can be kids’
The Philadelphia Tribune, October 6, 2015

“Early childhood is the key to a successful academic career,” said Samuel Gompers principal Phillip DeLuca. “Instilling the importance of attendance and being on time is where it begins. It continues with making reading part of a child’s young life and modeling the importance of homework and being a lifelong learner.” FAST is part of the school's repertoire for building lifelong learners. Read more.

A school with a $160 budget?
The Philadelphia Inquirer, by Kristen A. Graham, 2014

For many, Tom Wolf’s election as governor is a turning point, a change that could finally address years of Philadelphia School District cuts so deep that a school has just 40 cents to spend on each needy student. Read more.


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

American Institutes for Research (2018), R. González, F. Huang, E. Spier, J. Bos, and D. Holtzman


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

American Institutes for Research (2018), J. Bos, E. Spier, V. Bandeira de Mello, R. González, and F. Huang


“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.


Parent engagement program celebrates creating bonds with families, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook


After School Program Connects Families, Turning Points for Children


At Samuel Gompers, ‘kids can be kids’, The Philadelphia Tribune


FAST programs bring families together, The Philadelphia Tribune


Wisconsin Center for Education Research wins $15 million grant to improve student achievement


In Memoriam: Kim Jones

Kim Jones

Kim Jones, Program Director, Turning Points for Children, Philadelphia, PA

The PhillyFASTi3 partnership recently, tragically, lost a leading figure on our project team: Kim Jones, project director at nonprofit Turning Points for Children.

Kim dedicated her life to advocating for children and families. A wise and well-educated woman, she managed a challenging position, guiding a growing staff as they worked with 62 public schools, collaborating with different organizations and the School District of Philadelphia, facilitating positive relationships with school staff and volunteers, and serving and empowering culturally diverse families and children. She was highly respected and loved by many.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Kim and to witness both her generosity and dogged commitment to do good work in a tough world. She set the bar high, and we will continue to reach for it. The PhillyFASTi3 project extends our deepest condolences to all Kim’s family, friends, and colleagues. We stand with our partners in honoring Kim--her life and remarkable legacy.


National Association Honors FAST Program in Australia’s Northern Territories

National Association Honors FAST Program in Australia’s Northern Territories
Pictured: Mal Galbraith (Manager, FAST NT), The Honorable Jon Elferink (Minister for Children & Families), and Phillip Dhamarrandji (Trainer, FAST NT). Photo credit: NAPCAN

The Families and Schools Together® (FAST®) program in Australia’s Northern Territories was awarded a prestigious 2014 Play Your Part Award. The award recognizes the FAST program for empowering communities to “recognize and use their own resources and assets to strengthen their families.”

The award sharply raises the visibility of FAST beyond the Northern Territories, where the FAST program has been active since 2003. FAST is in use at 16 sites in a remote location that poses many logistical challenges. Despite those challenges, the FAST program has trained 120 leaders and served more than 650 family members. Leaders and families include indigenous community members. Cultural representation of leaders and families is a high priority of FAST, not only in the Northern Territories but everywhere it is implemented, observes Lynn McDonald, FAST program founder.

In fact, the aim of FAST—to strengthen parent-child relationships, parent networks, and increase access to resources and support services—closely aligns with national leaders’ goals to prevent child abuse and create positive, nurturing environments for all children on the Australian continent.

“We are very pleased that FAST’s potential for implementation throughout Australia has been recognized. More importantly, though, I’m very glad that all the positive work of the FAST leaders in the Northern Territories has been affirmed,” states McDonald. “They really deserve this award and should celebrate its great significance with the volunteers who make the program work. The volunteer leaders and team members have shown enormous commitment to the program and their FAST families.”

For more information about the “Play Your Part” Award, see


Set up your child for a smooth transition during Kindergarten Week (Sept. 8)!  Meet and greet your teachers and FAST team members.

During the second week of September, families have a chance to meet with their child’s Kindergarten teacher. This meeting is a great time to set young children up for a smooth transition to school. Some children are excited. Some are nervous. All parents want their child to feel confident and free of anxiety.

When you go to that meeting, you will see members of a Families and Schools Together® (FAST®) team near your room. FAST is a positive way for families to smooth the path for children. The best people for parents to talk with are (obviously) other parents who have gone through FAST: These are FAST graduates.

What will they tell you? They might mention that FAST lasts only 8 weeks, with meetings that are 2.5 hours long. They might tell you that your family will have a blast. They might tell you the program offers a healthy free meal. They might tell you that you will learn things that would surprise you—about new ways to communicate with your child, understand their feelings, build their confidence, and more. They might tell you by the end of the program you (the parent/guardian) will have made new friends who’ve ‘got your back.’ These things and more come through FAST.

It costs nothing to ask questions. And 2.5 hours a week is nothing compared to the gains you will see through the free 8-week program. 25 years of research back up this statement.  More importantly, people in your own neighborhood have made these very comments. (See parent quotes on this web site.)


Looking to Build a Positive Beginning for Your Kindergarten and First Grade Student?

In addition to attending FAST, parents and guardians might find this helpful. Write out the answers to these questions and give them to your child’s teacher when you meet with her or him:

  1. My child learns best by: 
  2. The thing my child has learned this past year that makes me most proud is:
  3. Some things I do at home to help my child learn are:
  4. Right now, my child’s goal or dream is:
  5. The thing my child likes best about school is:
  6. One challenge my child has had with school is:
  7. You will know my child is having difficulty when:
  8. When my child is having difficulty learning something, I find it works best to:
  9. Questions I would like to discuss with you include

PDF download

Download a PDF with these questions.


The source for these questions is a template titled “Help Me Know Your Child,” developed for school teachers and posted on the Pennsylvania Early Education / PA Keys website.