Clarkston Families Decide is an initiative funded by <strong>W.K.Kellogg Foundation</strong> which works to engage diverse Clarkston families with children birth to eight to be their child’s first teacher, take actions as leaders, resulting in positive changes in early learning and school systems and in their community.

 How does Clarkston Families Decide work?

Clarkston Families Decide focuses on working with adults to improve the lives of their children and families.  The initiative uses interrelated strategies to reduce barriers and increase family engagement in early learning and school settings.  By equipping families with knowledge about early learning and  leadership skills, they can play key roles in decisions made for their children.


  • Families become effective advocates for their children and for the community by developing important collaborative networks and enhancing vital decision-making and communication skills.

  • Families “own” decisions related to early learning and educational outcomes and will, therefore, commit to and fully engage in the early learning and education systems for the benefit of their children and the community.

Program Components

  • Family Leadership Training provides an opportunity for families from diverse cultures to network and develop skills to assist them in their role as their child’s teacher and advocates and as community leaders. Curriculum includes visioning, goal setting, family engagement, community analysis, advocacy training, the importance of home language, and information about Pre-K and school transition. Families will design community early-learning and school transition projects. Community Coaches will support families during small group and individual activities and between sessions.

  • Early Learning Community Trust

  • Countdown to Kindergarten is a campaign to engage Clarkston families, the early learning community, local businesses, policy makers and others in a public awareness and community-building campaign, coordinated by the Clarkston Early Learning Network. The campaign will include materials and activities related to the importance of home language, provide tips to families on activities they can do with their children to promote early learning and the importance of school transition.


The vision of Clarkston Families Decide is to create partnerships of families, schools, and the community to work together to identify equity issues and to engage and fully utilize the knowledge, gifts, and skills of diverse families. This participatory framework will create processes and policies to define, design, and develop a culturally competent and equitable pipeline for early learning, school transition and school success.  Collectively, the community will consider the following items for success:

  • Do children enter Kindergarten ready to learn?

  • Do families perceive that they have a real say on issues important to them, and have they taken action by accepting more school and community leadership roles?

  • Have early learning, school, city, business and other leaders welcomed family engagement and acted to change and/or create systems and processes to reduce early learning inequities?