What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Parents Forum creates a congenial, confidential, structured environment where parents share their experiences. The curriculum, based on eight questions, is outlined in the program handbook Where the Heart Listens. The 2011 third edition is available in print, ebook and audio book through all standard book distribution channels.
Over the past 20 years of its existence the program has had a powerful impact on hundreds of participants, as community members including incarcerated fathers attest:
= The workshop gave me information I can use immediately, at home and everywhere!
= This is what’s missing in a lot of other parents’ programs.
= It offered new insights on things I ‘thought’ I knew.
= This program can be a solution. This program gives hope!
Each year the program serves over 100 parents and others in the Boston, MA area through workshops in libraries, schools, colleges and prison. Book sales increase Parents Forum’s reach, as do found Eve Sullivan’s radio interviews.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Over the next three years we expect Parents Forum to partner with three to five new schools (or districts) and/or community-based public health programs serving parents in high, medium and low-income communities. Our aim is to promote greater parent involvement in social and emotional learning as well as in addressing bullying and other serious behavioral problems including depression, suicide and substance abuse. Our goal is increase the number of parents we serve annually to at least 300 and to have licensed sites in at least three communities.
Spring 2012 we will videotape a public service announcement using our tagline ‘come share your strength’ to engage parents, as well as schools and agencies serving parents and children. We will distribute the PSA widely.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Without the capacity to generate more interest and respond to inquiries, we cannot grow. We need to elicit more inquiries from agencies and individuals about Parents Forum and we must be able to respond.
Prevention is a hard sell socially and personally. Communities readily ‘organize baby-rescue brigades down in the valley’ but fail to ‘walk up the mountain to see why babies fall into the river.’ Individuals know, and even say, that they want help managing their family lives, but put off seeking it.
Besides doing social marketing to address the above challenges, Parents Forum needs to have program materials in electronic format to make them readily available. We are seeking funding for this as well as for translating our book and workshop materials into Spanish and French.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Create advisory board, seed endowment fund and put program materials into electronic format
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Engage a new (volunteer or paid) director to manage operations, evaluation and planning
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
The program grew out of serious family crises when the founder's sons were teenagers. From the lessons she learned, based on greater emotional awareness, and with the help of Christine Bates and others, she created Parents Forum. Trained as a language teacher, she realized that she could teach others how to talk about feelings. In the closing chapter of the program handbook, Where the Heart Listens, she wrote:
“As our communities have become bigger, as our lives are too often invaded by news of violence if not directly by threat of violence or violence itself, and as commercialism encroaches further into our communities and our lives, we can maintain a positive vision. We can try to create loving and orderly homes. We can strive to be neighborly and tolerant. We can maintain an eagerness for new ideas…. I believe that we can and must do all of these things [and] I hope that Parents Forum will be a strong partner in the many personal, community and global efforts to do so.”