College of Education and Human Development Helping More Families Prepare for College

Date: September 20, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX. Sept 20, 2013. Texas A&M University has a long tradition of welcoming and encouraging families to be more involved in the college experience. Now, with the help of a $1.46 million dollar federal grant funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), in the U.S. Department of Education and a strong partnership with the nonprofit Abriendo Puertas Parental Communication Initiative Inc., the Project Families4College (F4C) can reach new or under-represented student populations and their families. And family involvement can be vital to a student’s success.

Project F4C is a three-year development project created to better prepare and provide families with a wealth of information about expectations, understanding college networks and systems and fostering post-secondary enrollment for students to attend college.

Jorge E. Gonzalez, associate professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development, will serve as principal investigator. Project team members include Dominique Chlup, co-investigator and associate professor of educational administration and human resource development and Elsa Gonzalez, research associate and visiting assistant professor.

This team is among the first recipients in the U.S. to receive an IES grant for curriculum development to increase college awareness and preparation for at-risk Hispanic families.

“What we realized is there is no universal curriculum being used nationally to help parents understand some of the behind-the-scenes work necessary to prepare students to enroll in college,” Gonzalez said. “We want to develop a curriculum of evidence-based practices that will teach them how to access that information.”

Project F4C will work with liaisons from Abreindo Puertas (Opening Doors in English), including Dr. Hector Aldape, co-director of the grant and President and CEO of Abriendo Puertas to help families navigate the path to college. Together, they will target high-risk Hispanic and Latino families and provide access information about college to encourage students to prepare for and enroll in college.

Founded in 2003, the Abriendo Puertas is a nonprofit that strives to involve parents and communities in children’s education to achieve lifelong success. Programs are used to encourage families to participate in workshops and activities to learn more about college preparation and student success. The organization has long-established relationships within school districts in South Texas. Abriendo Puertas will implement various stages of Project F4C and help open doors for students with college aspirations.

“When we had the opportunity to actually visit the Colonias  [South Texas] earlier this summer and see women who would show up at 9 a.m., sit in the heat outside and listen to someone deliver a curriculum about what we can do to help get their child into college, it was truly inspiring,” said Chlup.

Project F4C goals are to develop a college-knowledge curriculum intervention for Hispanic and Latino high-school students. The curriculum will help foster communication between home and school and assist parents with objectives like applying for financial aid, visiting colleges and critical conversations with high school and college counselors. Currently, there are more than 15 planned modules that combine aspects of school and parental involvement. The modules are expected to help parents assist students with college readiness and facilitate higher college enrollment numbers.

“Many Latinos make a generational leap when they decide to go to college. We want to develop a curriculum that removes barriers and makes it possible for all families to encourage their children to attend to college,” said Gonzalez.

Once the curriculum and pilot study are complete, Project F4C team members would like to expand the curriculum and other resources to additional schools to help more students fulfill their college aspirations.

“Hopefully after we complete the work here in Texas, we can expand the project to other populations who can benefit from this information,” said Chlup.

For more information contact Jorge E. Gonzalez at jegonzlez [at] tamu [dot] edu or 979.845.2324 or Chauncey Cox, Communications Specialist, coxch [at] education [dot] tamu [dot] edu or 979.845.1823.