Parent Engagement

The Institute for Public Schools Initiatives (IPSI) at the University of Texas at Austin is committed to helping public schools, universities, businesses, and community organizations partner with families to improve educational outcomes for students. As experts on their families and as co-educators of students, families have a valuable voice. We create space for learning with and from families through facilitated conversations, parent workshops, focus groups, and conferences. We bring the latest research and best practices in formats that are meaningful and accessible to families, school administrators, classroom teachers, and support staff. Examples of our work in parent engagement include

  • developing a model that used trained university volunteers to meet with families for community conversations about college;
  • designing and hosting the Texas GEAR UP Parent Leadership Institute, which trained parents to advocate for their children, to build a college-going culture in their communities, and to support their children in preparing for and succeeding in college; and
  • providing technical assistance and professional development to Texas GEAR UP schools in customizing strategies for family engagement.

Parent Leadership Institute


The Parent Leadership Institute, part of the annual Texas GEAR UP State Conference, is an opportunity for select Texas GEAR UP parents to gather and take part in a uniquely tailored conference aimed to engage and empower. The Parent Leadership Institute is offered in English and Spanish and trains parents to support their children in preparing for and succeeding in higher education. Parents are trained to be better equipped to return home and contribute to a college-going community by working with other parents and community leaders. Topics in past years’ Institutes include High School Graduation Requirements (HB5), Importance of Parents to Student Success, and College Costs and Financial Aid, among others. Parents also have an opportunity to go on a tour of The University of Texas at Austin.