Jose, the youngest of five kids, moved to Oakdale, California from Mexico when he was just 10 years old. He and his family stepped into a daunting new reality, facing heartbreaking setbacks. “It was a struggle,” Jose recalled. “Not only did we have to learn a new language, but my brother passed away soon after our move.”

But just two years after moving to Oakdale, Jose was a straight-A, honors middle school student. And today, less than one year after graduating from CSU Stanislaus with a BA in Business Administration, Jose is co-founder of the DREAMer Club in CSU Stanislaus and sits on the Hispanic Leadership Counsel Board.

A number of factors helped Jose become a thriving college graduate, including dedication, hard work, perseverance, and high standards coupled with support from his teachers. But what Jose and his family found particularly transformational was the role an organization, PIQE (Parent Institute for Quality Education) played. PIQE equipped Jose’s parents, Martha and Silvano, with the tools they needed to become Jose’s most devoted advocates.

PIQE empowers parents and educators to collaborate together to help transform a student’s educational environment, both at home and at school. PIQE, which launched in California in 1987, is built on the belief that parents are a child’s first teacher, and schools can’t do it alone.

Like with Jose and his family, PIQE works to connect low-income parents to their schools and serve as advocates for their kids. PIQE understands the barriers to family engagement. Many of these families don’t speak English, have demanding work schedules or did not graduate from high school themselves, and as a result don’t know how to best engage with their school. PIQE provides in-depth parent trainings that help raise awareness about what is happening in their child’s school, and gives tips—like how to request a translator or use meetings with teachers effectively—helping move parents from awareness to action.

“We have learned that once the parents understand how to be engaged, how to ask questions, how to advocate for their children’s rights to ensure they get a high-quality education, they move into action.” Said David Valladolid, President & CEO of PIQE.

Jose’s mom was invited to join PIQE when Jose was new to Oakdale. PIQE provided her with a platform to collaborate with other parents, connect with the principal and teachers, and learn how to best support Jose. And she participated fully in Spanish. “Participating in PIQE’s program helped me learn so many things. I felt encouraged. Encouraged that college was possible for my son. And that I could help,” said Martha.

In the last 30 years, PIQE has graduated more than 600,000 low-income parents in California and has expanded to serve 13 states. PIQE is helping parents see themselves as leaders in their children’s education. And it’s working. Evaluations on PIQE’s program show that the program:

  • Decreases dropout rates, increases completion of college preparatory classes, and increases attendance at a college or university;
  • Increases parent knowledge of the K–12 and college systems;
  • Alters parent behavior, which improves children’s learning at home and school;
  • Produces short-term effects on student attendance and homework return; and
  • Produces long-term changes in parent contact with teachers and counselors.

For Jose, these findings are all true. New to the school, the community, and the English language, PIQE offered a vital resource for Jose and his family in setting, working toward, and reaching high academic expectations.