23,171 Knox County Parents to Receive Home Learning Support

23,171 Knox County Parents Will Receive Texts to Help Children Learn at Home


Contact: Claire Jones

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation


With less than 1/3 of Tennessee 3rd graders reading proficiently, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation and the Tennessee Department of Education partner with ParentPowered to meet families where they are with the resources they need to help children continue reading and learning outside of the classroom.

Knoxville, Tenn., February 2, 2022 – Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and Knox County Schools, announces the county-wide expansion of ParentPowered, a research-based text messaging program, to help parents support their students in learning at home. This marks the 120th Tennessee school district, charter school and voluntary pre-K program to offer ParentPowered to families, made available for free by GELF and TDOE.

Through the ParentPowered program, families with pre-K through 3rd grade students across Tennessee receive three weekly text messages with facts, easy tips, and activities on how to help each child learn and grow by building on existing family routines. Text messages match each child’s age, with simple, engaging facts and suggestions for building on existing daily routines.

Over 30 million texts have been sent to 205,000 families since ParentPowered was rolled out in Tennessee by GELF and TDOE in January 2021, marking the largest statewide roll-out of the program to date. See below for a full list of the school districts and voluntary pre-K programs participating in ParentPowered.

While third grade reading proficiency has proven to be a key indicator for a child’s future educational success, it has dropped 13% in Tennessee and 15.85% in Knox County since the COVID-19 pandemic. Statewide surveys show that ParentPowered has positively impacted home learning habits and literacy development for Tennessee families, revealing:

  • 81% of parents reported doing at least one ParentPowered activity per week.
  • 92% of parents said that ParentPowered activities helped children grow their literacy skills.
  • 89% of parents experienced an increase in their confidence to support their children’s learning because of ParentPowered.
  • 96% of parents said their relationships with their children were stronger after doing ParentPowered activities.

“Our day-to-day activities outside of the classroom create rich learning experiences that are free and easy to do, from getting dressed, to preparing a meal,” said James Pond, president of GELF. “Together with TDOE, we are delighted to bring this program to Knox County families and thrilled to see the impact it is making as families across the state incorporate it into their daily routines. Just as we deliver books directly to homes, delivering ParentPowered texts directly to phones meets families where they are with easy, learning opportunities that can positively impact a child’s life.”

The ParentPowered text messages are aligned to Tennessee’s academic standards and focus on key areas like language and literacy, math and science, social and emotional learning, physical development, and health and safety. The ParentPowered text messages intend to spark family conversations in English and Spanish and expand learning at home.

“We work to ensure all Tennessee students can develop into strong readers,” said Dr. Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officer, Tennessee Department of Education. “The past several months have been challenging for parents, juggling work and home life while trying to ensure children across the state continue learning. ParentPowered will now provide Knox County families with free, easy resources to help families support strong learning at home.”

The widespread use of text messaging combined with its ease of use and short-message format is allowing school districts, educators and administrators to implement highly effective programs for the families they serve.

“Knox County Schools is excited to provide our families with access to ParentPowered,” said Beth Lackey, Early Childhood and Elementary Supervisor of Knox County Schools. “ParentPowered provides age-appropriate and inviting activities that provide opportunities for families and care givers to build language and engage with their children in meaningful conversations. Everyday experiences such as trips to the grocery store or playing in the park are authentic learning opportunities and I am thrilled that we are providing this access for our young learners.”

The ParentPowered methodology has the strongest evidence base in the field and the program is continuously being evaluated and improved through ongoing partnerships at Stanford, Brown and Notre Dame universities. The ParentPowered approach has been shown to increase family engagement at home and school and increase child learning by 2-3 months over the course of a school year.

“Knox County Schools’ decision to join school districts throughout Tennessee in providing parents with evidence-based ParentPowered text messages underscores the District’s commitment to promoting positive student outcomes during a time of unprecedented challenges – and TDOE and GELF’s ability to rapidly mobilize districts around the Statewide ParentPowered initiative, which is currently serving hundreds of thousands of families, is a testament to the trust that they have in Tennessee as well as their innovative partnership model,” said Ben York, Ph.D., founder and CEO of ParentPowered. “States and districts across the country that are looking to support families at scale should look no further than Knox County Schools, TDOE, and GELF, as Tennessee’s on-going work in family engagement is a true bright spot in the U.S. educational landscape.” 

For more information on ParentPowered in Tennessee, visit GovernorsFoundation.org or email Ready4K@governorsfoundation.org.

About Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF)

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) equips Tennessee’s children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. GELF is a nonpartisan 501c3 driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor, and catalyst for programs across the state. These programs include Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, K-3 Book Delivery, Caregiver Engagement, Book Buses, and Storybook Trails. GELF was founded in 2004 by former Gov. Phil Bredesen as a public-private partnership to sustain Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee. GELF has grown from solely a book-gifting program to an early literacy organization driven by a vision where all Tennessee children have access to the resources, guidance, and support they need to become lifelong learners. For more information, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org.

About ParentPowered

ParentPowered is a public benefit corporation that was established to pursue social impact by creating easy-to-use tools for great parenting to improve the lives of all children, regardless of means. In addition to the ParentPowered Core program, an evidence-based family engagement curriculum delivered via text messages geared toward children from birth through fourth grade, the company also offers Trauma-Informed and Personalized Learning programs. ParentPowered serves parents through partnerships with school districts, Head Starts and community, county, regional, state and national educational organizations, working to ensure equitable learning access to parents regardless of their economic situation. The company was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in San Mateo, California. More information is available at www.ParentPowered.com and on social media: IG: @ParentPoweredFE, Twitter: @ParentPoweredFE, FB: @ParentPowered.

List of ParentPowered Participating School Districts 

Asterisk (*) denotes which districts have voluntary pre-K programs participating

Achievement School District*
Alamo City Schools
Arrow Academy of Excellence
Athens City Schools
Bedford County Schools*
Bells City Schools
Benton County Schools*
Bledsoe County Schools
Blount County Schools*
Bradley County Schools*
Campbell County Schools*
Cannon County Schools
Carter County Schools
Cheatham County Schools
Chester County Schools*
Claiborne County Schools
Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools*
Clay County Schools
Clinton City Schools*
Coffee County Schools
Collierville Schools*
Crockett County Schools*
Cumberland County Schools*
Dayton City Schools*
Decatur County Schools
DeKalb County Schools*
Dickson County Schools*
Dyer County Schools*
Dyersburg City Schools*
East End Preparatory School
Fayette County Schools
Fayetteville City Schools
Fentress County Schools
Franklin SSD*
Gibson County Schools*
Giles County Schools*
Grainger County Schools
Greene County Schools*
Greeneville City Schools*
Grundy County Schools
Hamblen County Schools*
Hamilton County Schools*
Hancock County Schools*
Hardeman County Schools
Hardin County Schools
Hawkins County Schools*
Haywood County Schools*
Henderson County Schools*
Henry County Schools
Hickman County Schools*
Hollow Rock-Bruceton
Houston County Schools*
Humboldt City Schools
Humphreys County Schools*
Jackson County Schools
Jackson-Madison County Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Johnson County Schools*
Journey Community Schools
Kingsport City Schools*
Knox County Schools*
Lake County Schools
Lauderdale County Schools
Lawrence County Schools*
Leadership Preparatory Charter School
Lebanon Special School District
Lexington City Schools*
Loudon County Schools*
Macon County Schools*
Marion County Schools
Marshall County Schools*
Maury County Schools*
McKenzie SSD
McMinn County Schools*
McNairy County Schools
Meigs County Schools
Memphis School of Excellence
Metro Nashville Public Schools*
Milan Special School District
Millington Municipal Schools*
Moore County Schools*
Morgan County Schools
Murfreesboro City Schools*
Newport City Schools*
Oak Ridge Schools*
Obion County Schools
Oneida SSD*
Overton County Schools*
Paris SSD*
Perea Elementary School
Perry County Schools*
Pickett County Schools
Polk County Schools
Putnam County Schools*
Rhea County Schools*
Richard City Schools
Robertson County Schools*
Rogersville City Schools
Rutherford County Schools*
Scott County Schools*
Sequatchie County Schools*
Sevier County Schools
Shelby County Schools*
Smith County Schools*
Stewart County Schools
Sumner County Schools*
Sweetwater City Schools
Tipton County Schools*
Trenton SSD*
Unicoi County Schools*
Union City Schools*
Union County Schools
Van Buren County Schools
Warren County Schools*
Washington County Schools*
Wayne County Schools
Weakley County Schools
West Carroll SSD
White County Schools*
Wilson County Schools

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