This year, Zeno has seen incredible growth in our MathWays for Early Learning Program. Along with this growth, we have made it a priority across our programs to ensure that the voice of the families we serve are a key part of our program development and evaluation. In this series, we’ll highlight some of the work we’re doing internally and in collaboration with others to ensure we are meeting the needs and address the challenges of families participating in our programs.


This month in Focusing on the Family, we’re highlighting Zeno’s collaboration with Purple Group, a Chicago-based communications and marketing firm, to develop and facilitate Family Discussion Groups. Last week, Zeno staff and moderators from three of our partner organizations facilitated the first set of Family Discussion Groups at community locations in the International District, Beacon Hill, and Rainier Beach, under the guidance of Lartiza Lopez, Principal at Purple Group.


What is a Family Discussion Group?

Family Discussion Groups are similar to traditional focus groups used in a range of industries and sectors. However, in order to collect feedback from families in an approachable way, Zeno and the Purple Group worked together to develop a model in which families are able to share their experiences and ideas in more relaxed, discussion-based environment. In each Family Discussion Group session, the moderator leads a conversation with a group of 6-10 community members around how they engage the children in their life with math. Through these groups, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the diverse set of communities we serve, as well as assess the effectiveness of our early math materials and program delivery.


Who is involved in the Project?

Over the past three months, Zeno and Purple Group have worked together to establish the goals, format, and process for implementation of the Family Discussion Groups. This week, we held our first set of groups, with families participating in programs at three of our partner organizations: Atlantic Street Center, Chinese Information & Services Center, and El Centro de la Raza. We are incredibly grateful to the staff members of these organizations, and other community members, who agreed to moderate groups, recruit group participants, assist with translation, and share their spaces with us.


What’s Next?

In the next month, Zeno will analyze and summarize our finding from these initial Family Discussion Groups. The primary goal of this first set of groups was to test the model and gain insight into general attitudes around math and the method families use to initiate math learning at home. We look forward to sharing what we learn and seeing how this essential feedback from families can be incorporated into the furthest development of the MathWays for Early Learning program!

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