Newark Public Schools Launching Parent University with Multilingual Offerings and Pandemic Focus

Launched in September 2020, Newark’s Parent University is using recovery dollars to offer free classes in English and Spanish to families across the city. Classes help families navigate the school system, support student learning at home, access community resources, and build professional skills. The Parent University concept can be found across the country, having gained traction during the pandemic. Newark’s Parent University stands out from others because of the variety of courses it offers and its intention to support families impacted by the pandemic.

We are spotlighting this practice because the support Newark is offering families to better advocate for their children’s learning is critical as students emerge from the pandemic. Moreover, by offering classes in Spanish, the city is targeting this opportunity to the needs of an underserved population.

Reviewer Analysis

The Education Trust

Newark’s Parent University represents a promising practice for family engagement for a number of reasons. First, the aims of the program are not simply to provide parents with information, but the courses are explicitly linked to learning and how families can support their students socially, emotionally, and academically. Additionally, this program is multilingual, does not require families to come to the school, has various time offerings, and hopes to build capacity and skills of families.

The Rural Alliance

Great use of recovery funds. We look forward to learning more.

Leslie Villegas

Language access for linguistically diverse families is often the first barrier to access and in looking at the Parent University website it looks like the page can be translated into 10 languages.


Supporting families’ ability to navigate what can be at best a difficult system and at worst outright discriminatory education system is crtical to increasing the likelihood that students get the education they deserve. It would be interesting to see what attendance/completion/demographics of participants looks like around the country.


We are encouraged that Newark Public Schools’ Parent University will offer classes in both English and Spanish, to ensure accessibility for multilingual families. The initiative shows promise for deepening parents’ and families’ engagement in their children’s education, as well as connecting them with additional supports. A child whose family can access needed resources and navigate the school system will be more ready to learn in school.

New Leaders

Offering programs in English and Spanish, and covering topics related to curriculum and instruction, social emotional wellbeing, and overall school readiness is encouraging. Within this program, what opportunities are there for families to connect with one another and the school? Given the program is online, how does it care for families who may not have reliable internet access or devices? Also, how does this program ensure content and delivery are culturally inclusive and identity-affirming?

Jocelyn Pickford

With parents more engaged than ever in their children’s education, this is a critical structure for equipping them to best support their children’s success.

The Bush Center

Investment in family engagement targeted to knowledge building is a promising idea.

Results for America

It is encouraging to see Newark engage parents as partners in students’ education. We especially love that courses are offered in both English and Spanish, there is a combination of self-paced and live learning opportunities, and the district is partnering with local community based-organizations to offer these learning opportunities.

Southern Regional Education Board

The focus on courses that help families support their children coupled with the multi-language options is innovative.

National Parents Union

This Parent University Model does stand out. As it doesn’t reflect the typical “be a better parent” mindset that some programs use to approach families. Happy to see it's already in Spanish and not “We plan to have it available in the future” excuse a lot of programs use.

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