Family and Community Engagement (FACE) is collaborative, culturally competent, and focused on improving children’s learning1. RTI believes meaningful, high impact FACE incorporates the following:

  • Ensures educators make engagement a part of their everyday practice, ultimately supporting students in reaching their full potential.
  • Happens when families, community members, and educators are partners in supporting students. There is a focus on two-way communication, where all parties are valued for the expertise they bring to the table.
  • Occurs when families, educators, and community members share the responsibility for the academic, social, emotional, physical, and behavioral development of students.
  • Is fostered through deliberate, intentional, culturally responsive structures and systems that are embraced by the whole school community.2 3
Father and son meeting together with a teacher

High impact strategies for family engagement include actions that honor the expertise of families. This could include intentionally seeking out authentic relationships with families, that are built on mutual respect and trust, or ensuring that data is shared around student learning whenever a family and teacher connect. When teachers listen to families, they frequently garner knowledge that can empower them to be more aware of students’ cultures, strengths, and areas of growth to develop differentiated lessons applicable to students lives and goals.

Research has shown that through family engagement, educators are empowered to engage families as co-creators, honor family funds of knowledge, create welcoming cultures, and build relationships around learning and development4. This ultimately has a strong impact on teacher attitudes and morale, while families feel valued, heard, supported, and honored with effective family engagement practices5.

  1. National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) (2022a).Family engagement defined. Retrieved from
  2. Henderson, A., Mapp, K., Johnson, V., & Davies, D. (2007).Beyond the bake sale: The essential guide to family-school partnerships. The New Press.
  3. Mapp, K. L., & Bergman, E. (2021).Embracing a new normal: Toward a more liberatory approach to family engagement. Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  4. Mapp, K. L., & Bergman, E. (2019).Dual capacity-building framework for family-school partnerships (Version 2). Retrieved from
  5. Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002).A new wave of evidence. The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin [Texas]: National Center for Family & Community: Connections with Schools.

There are four over-arching topics that could be covered when working with RTI on the topic of Family and Community Engagement. These include a) staff mindsets and beliefs, b) building family partnerships, c) building community partnerships, and d) welcoming culture and climate. The following table highlights topics emphasized by RTI during professional learning and coach around FACE.

Table 1. RTI Training Topics around Family and Community Engagement.

Staff Mindset and Beliefs


  • Defining family and community engagement
  • Examining beliefs about families and communities
  • Intentionally and equitably engaging with all families and community
  • Sharing power and responsibility
Building Family Partnerships


  • Linking family engagement to student learning
  • Examine the inclusion of diverse demographics in instruction
  • Communication that builds trust
  • Family to family connections
Building Community Partnerships


  • School/District historical context
  • Mapping our community assets
  • Building a community coalition
  • Students and families as teachers through community walks
Welcoming Culture and Climate


  • Experiencing a day in the life
  • Communication audit
  • Enrollment experiences
  • Building and using school, student, family, and/or community committee advisory groups
  • Welcoming school self-assessment
Each of these overarching topics consist of a series of professional learning experiences, customized for the school and desired audience (leaders, teachers, counselors, administrative staff, security, etc.). It is recommended to begin with Mindsets and Beliefs and then choose the order of the next three service topics. Sustainability of these learnings would be a focus by planning in partnership with a school, student, family, and/or community committee.

Project Examples

RTI partners with innovative schools, districts, states, and organizations to address education challenges. Here we highlight two of those partnerships.

Greene County Schools

Greene County Schools, in rural central-eastern North Carolina, values community connections and as such they sought inputs from families to construct the family and student engagement arm of its current strategic plan. The partnership between RTI and Greene County Schools focused on building the internal capacity of administrators and beginning teachers to create shared responsibility conversations with family and community members. Staff at Greene County Schools built effective communication strategies, understanding how to learn about family backgrounds through relationship building, knowing how to hold authentic academic conversations with families, and learning how to re-engage families that had become disconnected for a variety of reasons.

Columbus County Schools

Beginning in the fall of 2021, Columbus County Schools integrated bi-annual Superintendent Town Halls, administering family surveys, and planning for more accessible communications strategies, however data still showed missed opportunities to connect with Spanish-speaking families. RTI created a bilingual family survey for all families that centered on communication method preferences, desired topics for communication, relationships with schools, and desired opportunities to build strong family partnerships. Data was disaggregated and district leaders quickly made the adjustments needed to district-level communications and engagement practices to better serve their multi-lingual families.

Family Community Engagement Experts

Our Education Services team is led by former teachers, principals, administrators, policy experts, and strategists who have the practical experience to translate ideas into action.


Kelly Bush

Education Consultant

Center for Education Services

Kelly Bush is an education consultant in RTI’s Center for Education Services. A former family engagement coordinator for public schools, she facilitates...

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Family and Community Engagement

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Expert in Professional Learning


Kristen McInerney

Education Consultant

Center for Education Services

Dr. Kristen McInerney is an education consultant with greater than 15 years’ experience as a practitioner and education researcher. In these roles, she gained...

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Expert in K-12 Education Policy

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Expert in Peer Learning Networks