“Without FAST, that bond that we have with [families] would not exist. FAST is research-based, and the research is real. I’m one who had to see it to believe it… This was actually a program that was truly getting families–who look like me–engaged with schools and feeling connected there. That’s been a challenge especially in our community in Madison. So when we were starting One City, I wanted the best.”

Kaleem Caire, Founder & CEO, One City Schools; Madison, WI

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“Through FAST, we’ve bridged that gap together where [families] feel comfortable to communicate. So now we have parents advocating for one another and before we didn’t have that. And then we have them feeling comfortable to come to us just to talk about what’s going on, and then we advocate for them… FAST has brought our community together a lot, especially during COVID.”

Shantrice Solis, Program Director, Kennedy Heights Community Center; Madison, WI

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“[FAST] is bringing families together. It’s because of some of the incentives and the basic needs that are provided for. They feel taken care of. So it’s not just an educational program; they’re having real, immediate needs taken care of. And that is a critical part of this program.”

Joyce Felker, Executive Director, The Parenting Network; Milwaukee, WI

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“FAST has been purpose-driven. It’s been real-life. It’s been empowering. It’s been awesome here at Auer Avenue. […] [Our staff] have seen the results of the families that have gone through FAST, and how the students have grown in their studies, and how the different things that they were challenged in at one point, they came up in because of FAST.”

Yvette Sims, K-4 Teacher, Auer Avenue School; Milwaukee, WI

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“Many of our families had [obstacles] in school where they weren’t always supported in a way to acknowledge who they are, to be able to express that in ways that are comfortable… FAST has eliminated those obstacles. They’ve created that partnership and that understanding, a sense of empathy and appreciation. Without it, I don’t know if we’d have it to the same level.”

Jason Dropik, Head of School, Indian Community School; Franklin, WI

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“I was a stay-at-home mom for 26 years. So when I went back to work, dad stepped in and [FAST] kind of gave him that platform to really build those relationships. […] Those relationships from the FAST Families have helped me in my role now. It has built a lot of that trust. They don’t just see me as an employee, they see me as somebody that they can talk to.”

Rachael Wichgers, Parent Engagement Specialist, Indian Community School; Franklin, WI

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“We were skeptical, but we are now believers. [FAST] gave us an opportunity to connect very closely with families, and those families appreciated it. […] Families felt supported, they felt empowered, they felt validated.”

Agnes Ring, Executive Director, Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley; Baldwin, WI

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“I’m communicating with teachers, parents, students, just different kids within the building that I normally never come in direct contact with but now we’re building those relationships. […] Parents also were broken out of their silos and were able to go beyond and now create relationships with other parents within the school.”

Candace Carlisle, Special Education Teacher, Hopkins-Lloyd Community School; Milwaukee, WI

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“I truly believe that this is the kind of disruptive program that changes futures for children and helps give parents and schools the tools they need to make sure that their children succeed in their lives. […] I hope our leaders in our community will look strongly at this program and help us build the coalitions we need to relaunch it, to sustain it, and to make the kinds of investments that will serve our children over many decades to come.”

Kristine Andrews, Associate Vice President Federal Relations, UW System (retired); Madison, WI

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“FAST is ideal because it recognizes the existing strengths in each community and brings those partners together under one program to build positive, empowering relationships and connections within and among families to best support our youngest learners and our diverse learners. FAST instills confidence and builds resilience. It teaches compassion and helps build bridges within and across communities.”

Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III, President, Madison College; Madison, WI

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“As a dual-language speaker and someone who had a lot of support from her school, I think our children deserve that chance and that opportunity to succeed and have the right infrastructure for their parents to also help them succeed. Latinos are the fastest growing populations here in WIsconsin and in the U.S., and FAST has wonderful sessions and programming specially targeted and culturally appropriate for that population.”

Jessica Cavazos, President & CEO, Latino Chamber of Commerce; Madison, WI

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“The parent voice has been expanded through parents participating in FAST… They know they have someone else that they can rely on or go to or talk to about issues or concerns because they have gone through the whole cycle. And that barrier, that fear of school based on whatever their experience was previously as a student and/or previous before coming into FAST, thinking that their voice will never be heard, no one is going to listen, [is gone].”

Dr. Z. Walker, Principal, Auer Avenue School; Milwaukee, WI

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“What FAST does is really build that connection between the school, the students, and their family. I think that partnership — I know for the students I meet — has been missing. Even literally going into the school building creates a lot of anxiety for a lot of our parents. […] Any way we can empower parents to get involved in their children’s education…will only end up with something positive for our community and for our schools.”

Oscar Mireles, Executive Director, Omega School; Madison, WI

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“The families have become closer together. I notice that talking to a lot of the parents they have realized that they really didn’t know certain things about their kids… also, they were able to express their feelings or concerns to their children. […] As a whole, parents meeting parents and being able to connect to other parents has been a wonderful experience because they have been able to make changes at the school that they didn’t even know they had the capacity to make.”

Dawn Collins, Parent Coordinator, Engleburg Elementary School; Milwaukee, WI

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“I’ve seen it with a lot of families — how they’ve gone back. I only have two children, but I know families with more children and they’re like, ‘We love FAST, and we go back every chance we get,’ and I think that’s awesome.”

Angela Twinn, Center Director, Ho-Chunk Youth Services Division; Milwaukee, WI

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