#34 – SchermCo Leads Second Year of Rare District/Charter Collaboration Focused on Family Empowerment

SchermCo is excited to announce the continuation of an unparalleled collaboration project in North Carolina and across the southeastern United States for a second year focused on family empowerment with a district and charter school in Charlotte, NC.


Over 940 data points were collected during the first phase of this partnership (January 2018-May 2018). These data points and input from families allowed both schools to identify and respond to the data in a timely fashion to improve engagement and empowerment efforts. Beyond the data points, approximately 50% of the families from each school attended family night events during the pilot phase. A post-survey completed by families revealed a significant increase in positive feelings towards the school in at least eight out of nine key surveyed areas.


With complete financial support and leadership from the Wells Fargo Foundation and management by SchermCo, Ashley Park PreK-8 (Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools) and Movement Charter School will offer a total of 20 Family Nights throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Each school will offer 10 Family Nights in which the topic and theme of each night will be chosen based on feedback from local families and aligned with academic and behavioral focus areas of each school. Local community organizations, restaurants, and vendors will also be leveraged for these nights. Leadership and staff from each school will attend joint professional development sessions in order to share feedback, lessons learned, and best practices to support their families.


“The Wells Fargo Foundation was interested in investing in the proposition of a collaboration between charter and public school leaders, said Jay Everette, Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations. We offered the school principals the ability to define the area for partnership and collaboration as long as it impacted student academic performance in some way. We thought that they would come back with a proposal addressing teaching and training but instead, they both felt strongly that parental and family engagement was an important area where they both faced challenges. It has been exciting to watch the increased levels of family engagement and empowerment. We are curious to study the research findings to see if we can identify any cause/effect relationships between engagement and academic performance.”


Research has consistently linked an increase in family engagement to positive relationships with local schools and better outcomes for students. Family engagement is also a key component of federal legislation since the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESSA) passed in 2015. The idea of family empowerment builds off of engagement but focuses on seeking and implementing input from families at the school level. Further, empowerment refers to tapping into the wisdom and agency of families as schools seek to provide a better experience to those they serve. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Institute will also formally evaluate the link between family empowerment and scholar’s academic and behavioral performance during the second phase of this project.


Collaboration between district and charter schools is often rare and these models of education are often pitted in opposition to each other. However, emerging research and examples from across the country are beginning to attribute positive outcomes from such partnerships. Continual partnerships between districts and charters while capturing measurable outcomes from working together could lead to more impactful partnerships and possibly have policy implications.


“This project continues to be incredible for a number of reasons. We’ve long believed that when schools collaborate and build genuine partnerships, specifically districts and charters, families, students, and the whole community benefits,” says Greg Schermbeck, Founder and Principal of SchermCo. “We are fortunate to work with these two school leaders that aspire to provide the best experience for their families. We’re especially grateful to the Wells Fargo Foundation for investing in such an innovative project to not only bridge the district/charter divide but also seek ways of best supporting local families. This project would not be possible without their support and leadership.”


To learn more about this project, review the deliverables from the first phase, or inquire about other services offered by SchermCo, please email Ana Cunningham, ana@schermdemo.wpengine.com. Lastly, follow our journey and engage with us on our social media platforms: FB, IG, and Twitter.


To see this project featured on PBS Charlotte – Carolina Impact, please click here.

To see a video from the pilot, please click here.


SchermCo is a social-impact implementation firm that offers strategic advising, organizational development, and implementation services to schools and education-focused organizations. SchermCo reinvests 1% of their time/funds from each project back into the communities they serve.

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