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Foundational Frameworks for Community Engagement

Alongside California’s new funding system, a reimagined accountability framework established new priorities and measures of school success, including student engagement and parent involvement. During the annual LCAP development process, districts are expected to engage community members to guide planning, budgetary, and improvement efforts. These changes were a part of the state’s efforts to center capacity building to encourage school improvement instead of punitive interventions (Furger, Hernández, Darling-Hammond, 2019). Yet, the “achievement gap” between Black and Latino/a and White student test scores remains a persistent focus of education leaders, policymakers, and researchers across the state. While grounded in good intentions, this focus diverts attention from understanding and addressing the underlying structural causes behind educational inequities (Ladson-Billings, 2006). 

While the LCFF set the precedent for mandated partnerships with community members in school and district decision-making, capacity building for community engagement is fundamental to community partnerships that help generate meaningful change. 

Guiding Frameworks for California’s Community Engagement Approach

Two foundational frameworks inform California’s approach to community engagement: Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships and Participatory Systems Change for Equity. 

Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships

First published in 2013 and revised in 2019, the Dual Capacity-Building framework marked an important shift in the literature on family engagement, as it distinguished between the intent versus impact of conventional family engagement initiatives. Lead author Karen Mapp asserts that a dual approach is necessary to build and activate educator and family capacity to support students and improve schools. Readers should look directly to the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for:

  • Evidence-based resources to help kickstart a co-design process
  • Examples of how schools and districts have built process and organizational conditions for effective family engagement practices

Participatory Systems Change for Equity Framework

The Participatory Systems Change for Equity framework takes a wider view of the potential that community partnerships have to challenge and transform inequitable conditions. The inquiry guide details technical and adaptive strategies for systems change within child-, youth-, and family-serving agencies. Look to the Participatory Systems Change Inquiry Guide for:

  • Questions to help system leaders examine policies, practices, and mental models related to participatory systems change efforts
  • Key resources for implementing elements of the Participatory Systems Change for Equity framework

Five shared values link these two frameworks

Centering the experiences, voices, and strengths of those most impacted by systemic oppression - including communities of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ communities - is essential to advancing equity and inclusion in community engagement. 

Promoting trust-building among all community members and challenging traditional approaches of community engagement will yield more effective partnerships. 

Building individual, collective, and systemic capacity is crucial to ensuring that community members can meaningfully partner in change efforts. 

Co-creation and shared power among students, families, community partners, and leaders.

A strengths-based approach prepares educators and leaders to recognize and build upon the cultural wealth present in families and communities. 


How do the shared values across the two frameworks align with your personal values? How do they align with the values of your school or district?
Which of these values is a strength for your school or district? 
Which of these values is a growth area for your school or district?
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Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/1361332052000341006

Valdez, A., Cerna, R., & Hashmi, S. (2023). Participatory systems change for equity: An inquiry guide for child-, youth-, and family-serving agencies. California Center for School Climate & Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety. WestEd

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