Who is PEN?
The Parent Engagement Network (PEN) is a grassroots, parent-led 501 (c)(3) non-profit that uses a strength-based approach to engage, educate, and empower parents to promote the social- emotional and mental wellbeing of youth and families.
To engage, educate and empower parents in raising healthy happy youth.
We envision a community where all of our families and youth are thriving.
Our work will be guided and informed by our beliefs and commitments to these values.
Parents as the Key: PEN believes parents desire to raise healthy youth and deserve guidance in successfully navigate this complex role.
Engagement: PEN embraces the broadest definition of engagement, which develop as society grows in it’s understanding of parent engagment.
Education: Pen values knowledge that is research-based, accessible to all parents, applicable to everyday life, and builds capacity across multiple contexts.
Empowerment: PEN commits to empowering families by providing relevant and meaningful tools and information that result in positive parenting strengths and skills.
Connection: PEN believes in creating connections between parents, organizations & resources, and aligning community effort for true parent engagement.
Inclusiveness: PEN respects all people, values diversity, and is committed to providing programs and initiatives that are inclusive and culturally competent.
Strengths-Based: PEN believes that a strengths-based focus helps remove fear, blame, or judgment increasing the likelihood that change may occur… The paradigm shift!
Parent engagement is a shared responsibility between families and communities. Schools, agencies, and organizations reach out to parents in meaningful ways, while parents actively support their children’s learning and development. Social-emotional, and mental well-being involves giving parents the support they need to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills desirable for their children.
In order to:
- manage their emotions.
- set and achieve goals.
- feel and show empathy for others.
- establish and maintain positive relationships.
- make responsible decisions.
Working with PEN leaves parents ready to protect youth from life’s risks, as well as raise them to be strong and successful. This is done by fostering protective factors like positive relationships, coping skills, problem-solving skills, and more that are foundational to healthy individuals, families, and neighborhoods. When parents face difficult times or challenging issues, PEN has the resources to remove fear-based conversations and empower parents to take actions that get them through the tough times.
How do we do this?
Our work is not done in a vacuum; it is done through partnerships with schools, organizations and businesses, individual experts, and young people. PEN connects community resources to one another, creating the context for conversations around real issues, and encouraging a common language around parenting.
Some ways we do this are:
- surveying parents to identify their needs and concerns.
- collaborating with organizations and professionals to respond to ever-changing circumstances.
- connecting parents with trusted professionals and service providers.
- training 100s of volunteers and parent leaders who train families to be positive and resourceful in their parenting.
- building foundational parenting skills in areas such as personal awareness, child and adolescent development, communication and relationship building, and knowledge of risks and protective factors.
- modeling strengths-based communication and thinking.
- assisting parents in navigating risky behaviors and parenting challenges as they arise.
- educating the larger community on their role in supporting families.
- acting as a central touchstone for increasing parent engagement and building healthy families.
What is the lasting impact?
- stronger, more resilient, and prepared when faced with tough times.
- vocal about the different needs and concerns in their parent community.
- equipped with solution-focused parenting rather than fear-based reactions.
- resourced and prepared to be their child’s best advocate.
- a greater capacity to empower parents to envision a better future for their children.
- support in their goals to create a welcoming environment, strengthen communication between parents and schools, promote a positive school climate, and build social-emotional capacity in children.
- a team of professionals that provide research-based best practices, expert speakers, and parenting tools for their community.
- strengthened efforts to improve parent engagement in marginalized populations.
Businesses and community organizations are:
- now more aware of the needs and the changing climate in their community.
- connected to families and other service organizations that support their work.
- benefiting from thought leaders who contribute powerful ideas to the community.
- becoming a part of a common conversation on youth issues, parent concerns, and paths to positive youth development.
PEN was founded in 2001 as a grassroots parent organization working in partnership with the Boulder Valley School District to respond to substance use issues revealed in the community. Over time, our programs have expanded greatly to provide education, support, and resources around a variety of issues impacting youth and families. These include everything from risk behaviors like self harm, eating disorders, depression, suicide prevention, and bullying, to preventative tips on raising resilient youth, building positive family relationships, fostering a healthy self image, communication skills, as well as managing stress and anxiety. PEN is also equipped to provide general education around diversity, technology, sexual orientation, and transitioning to middle school, high school, and college. PEN supports the growing Latino population in Boulder County by translating and interpreting its programs, and offering services specific to their needs. PEN became a non-profit in 2009.