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Parent University program in Douglas County to expand

Parent University program in Douglas County to expand

Sofia Jawed-Wessel and her family are dealing with remote learning and setting up a home school hub.

A partnership between Project Harmony and the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties will help expand a program that helps parents and caregivers become more engaged with their children’s schooling.

Parent University, which was started under the Learning Community in 2015, will now be managed by Project Harmony. This year, the program has gone from being available in six schools in the Omaha Public Schools to 24.

About 250 families are entered into the program each year, said Jamalia Parker, director of family engagement services for the Learning Community. The goal is to make sure children are ready for school and that by third grade, they’re reading at or above grade level.

“We’re about providing those opportunities for families that maybe wouldn’t be afforded those or awareness of that information otherwise,” Parker said.

Project Harmony has had a school-based program for the past five years in 140 elementary and middle schools, said Gene Klein, executive director of Project Harmony. The new partnership is a way to expand on that and work with families who have preschool-age children.

“This just allows us to extend the reach and engage families earlier in the process,” Klein said.

The program’s existing 15 employees will now become employees of Project Harmony. Project Harmony also will hire a director to oversee the program as well as hire to fill additional roles.

The program doesn’t cost anything, but participants must be willing to dedicate the time to the courses. They’re also required to have monthly home visits from a Parent University team member, and they should have monthly conversations with their child’s teacher about academic progress. They must have a child under 6 years old at the time of enrollment.

The partnership with Project Harmony is an example of how the Learning Community works with community partners, said Bradley Ekwerekwu, CEO of the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

For more information, visit or call 402-505-4301.

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