Partnership Aims at Strengthening Houston Families

The first 100 parents and children graduated from a six-week interactive course, aimed at strengthening family ties.

Dozens of parents now have the tools to better communicate and interact with their children, following a six-week interactive course taught by Collaborative for Children Parent Educators.

The initiative was made possible by a partnership between Toyota Family Learning, the National Center for Families Learning, Houston Community College, the Houston Public Library, and Collaborative for Children. Houston was selected as one of five cities to receive a three-year, $175,000 grant to kick-off the program. More than 250 cities applies to be part of the initiative. Houston joins Providence, R.I.; Bronx N.Y.; Lincoln, Neb.; and San Pedro, Calif. in this recently launched parenting effort.


Collaborative for Children President and CEO Carol S. Shattuck congratulates the graduates on their dedication to the program.

For six weeks, parents attended courses taught at Carnegie Neighborhood Library and McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library. Classes were taught in English and Spanish by Collaborative for Children Parents Educators Dawn Johnson and Claudia Zelaya, respectively.

During the program, families set goals and took steps to complete them. Parents, along with their children, participated in hands-on learning activities, college readiness lessons and learned ways to use technology for educational purposes. After successfully completing the program, parents received an electronic tablet to be used as an interactive tool at home.

In an awards ceremony June 10 at the HPL Central Library in Downtown, parents shared the impact the program had on them. “I feel like I’ve become a better mom,” Anai Cruz said. “It’s a great program. It’s given us tools to become better parents.”

Angela Beltran admits the classes were eye-opening for her, as well as her children. “The program is fabulous because it teaches children that parents can be stressed, too,” Beltran said. “I would recommend to anyone to not miss this program. It helps us understand when we did something wrong.”


HPL Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, NCFL President and Founder Sharon Darling, Toyota VP of Marketing Brent Hillyer, and Collaborative for Children VP of Programs & Collaboration Development Sul Ross congratulate a graduating family.

In a survey, an overwhelming 98 percent of parents said they are now more confident in their parenting skills, and every single parent responded they are using at least two of the skills they learned in the classes.

Parents were commended for their enthusiasm to learn more material to help enrich their families. “In the face of real obstacles in the education landscape, these local graduates exemplify an emerging constant – families learning together is a major key to success,” Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson said.

Parents who took part in this year’s program hope more families will take advantage of this opportunity. Larry and Shyrl Potts are recommending the program to everyone they know. “I do tell my friends if they have another program, to sign up,” Shyrl Potts said. “It’s enriched our lives. This program has been a success and I love it.”

The Family Learning Program will return in the fall at McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library, then in the spring at Carnegie Neighborhood Library.


Collaborative for Children Parent Educators Dawn Johnson and Claudia Zelaya taught the weekly courses at McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library and Carnegie Neighborhood Library, respectively.


Parents participate in a hand-on learning activity.

Parent sharing(2)

Group discussions allowed parents to learn from one another.

Grateful parent(2)

A parent thanks instructor Dawn Johnson.