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Tavis Smiley Foundation to launch parent education summits


LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Tavis Smiley Foundation announced today it will host a series of parent education seminars nationwide to give parents tools and information on how they can ensure their child’s success in learning.

The Too Important to Fail Parent Education Summits will kick off in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 29 with six other cities scheduled throughout spring 2012. These include: Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, and Montgomery, Alabama.

Funding for the initiative is provided by the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) and Hyundai Motor America. National program partners include the National Education Association.

This grassroots parents’ engagement effort will inform parents and the community about educational initiatives and programs, family and school partnerships, and school district resources. The sessions will include learning strategies to support homework, planning summer learning activities, and the impacts of absenteeism as well as health and safety on learning.

Parents will learn how grade-level reading determines high school performance and what they can do if their child is not reading at grade level. A special emphasis will focus on the challenges facing African American boys. Research shows less than 50 percent of young Black males will graduate from high school and on average their 12th grade reading scores are significantly lower than those across every other racial and ethnic group.

“A well informed and empowered parent can make all the difference in the educational achievement of a child,” said Shawn Dove, campaign manager for CBMA. “We are thrilled to partner with the Tavis Smiley Foundation to support this critical endeavor.”

“Hyundai Motor America is pleased to support the Too Important To Fail Parent Education Summits as education is the best foundation for young people to succeed in an increasingly competitive and challenging national and global environment,” says Zafar J. Brooks, director, Government Relations and Diversity Outreach Hyundai Motor America. “At Hyundai, we are committed to supporting those initiatives and activities that contribute to the continued robustness and success of our culture and society and we believe that this starts with our young people.”

The Parent Education Summits are one part of a holistic effort to raise awareness and spark action by parents to become more involved in the education crisis, according to founder Tavis Smiley. Recently, Smiley’s Too Important to Fail television documentary premiered on PBS examining the link between illiteracy and high school drop-out rates among African American boys.

“The enlightening conversations and information we were able to showcase through the documentary will now be shared with an even more important part of the puzzle–the parents who play a critical role as advocates for their children,” said Smiley.

“Youth leadership development is the core work of the Tavis Smiley Foundation and an important pathway toward leadership success is education.”

Through the interactive web portal,, summit attendees and the general public can learn more about the issues and engage in dialogue with organizations and constituents. Visitors can share ideas and vote on what they consider priorities through the use of social media.

All seminar sessions will be free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Registration information for the summits opens Oct. 1 and will be posted at and