Oscar E. CruzPresident & CEO, Families in Schools, Los Angeles, CA, B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, M.A., Georgetown University
    The passage of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013 signaled a new opportunity to elevate family engagement as a critical component of quality schooling (and a requirement for receiving state funds), but many districts across the state have struggled with how to implement authentic family engagement practices that help them create school climates supporting the well-being and academic success of all students. Families in Schools (FIS) aims to improve authentic family engagement across California in three key ways: leading a state-wide effort to establish parent engagement standards and indicators; launching a professional learning network of 7-8 district teams (comprised of staff, students, and parents) who focus on improving outcomes for students and seek to reimagine family and community engagement in schools; and training a cohort of Parent Ambassadors to engage in local and state education decision-making. By establishing clear indicators for family engagement and empowering families and district teams, FIS seeks to push districts to be more innovative in their school improvement efforts and, at the same time, hold districts accountable for incorporating meaningful family engagement, particularly for low-income and immigrant communities.
    Oscar E. Cruz serves as President and CEO of Families in Schools (FIS). Prior to this role, he first came to FIS as Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy and then served as FIS Vice President. Oscar has held various management positions including Program Director for Community Partners, where he directed projects in the areas of community technology and civic engagement, and Senior Program Manager at the Center for Civic Education, where he managed an international network of civil society organizations, school districts, universities, and foundations working to implement civic engagement programs for students and youth throughout the United States and Latin America.