PEN's Mission is to:
PEN's Mission is:
To engage, educate and empower parents in raising healthy, happy youth.
The Parent Engagement Network (PEN) works with parents, guardians, teachers, school and district administration and caring adults with a vision to create a community in which all adults and youth can thrive.
PEN has a unique non fiscal partnership with Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), allowing PEN to work directly with the schools, to create events, gatherings, and school-team programs that provide a place for community members to come together and learn, grow, and feel supported.
PEN community and school programs focus on a strength-based approach to teaching and learning, providing proactive, rather than reactive, responses to issues facing youth today.
PEN was formed in 2001 and obtained non-profit status in 2009.
The organization began as part of a call to action when the first Boulder Valley Youth Risk Survey showed high rates of drug and alcohol use, and depression in local youth. School staff, community organizations and parents responded to those findings by forming the Substance Abuse Task Force. Together with the Superintendent of Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) and the Healthy Youth Alliance, PEN held forums to educate the community about substances and other risk behaviors.
By 2003, the parents in this group separated and formalized as the Parent Engagement Network (PEN). PEN maintained partnership with BVSD and community organizations, but created its own mission and expanded programs. While remaining responsive to risky behaviors, PEN leaders recognized that these behaviors were symptoms and began to take a strength-based approach to prevention by preparing parents with resources to develop the attributes and conditions that ultimately reduce risky behaviors in youth.
PEN continues to hold community wide events that give parents access to vetted professionals and opportunities to engage in difficult conversations with one another and their youth. Over time, other services were added, including: coffee talks, parent workshops, documentary showings, parenting book groups, and a 2 proprietary programs (the Parent Newcomer Parent Mentor Program and the Parent Greeter Program) to PEN services.
Subsequently, PEN developed the Parents as Leaders (PEN PALS) program with the goal of having a parent leader in each school who could respond to unique needs of independent school communities. The priority is to engage a parent, but in some cases a counselor, community liaison, or school administrator takes on that role. PEN works with this person, or group of people, to identify important issues or topics of interest to the parent community. Then, experienced PEN coaches support the parent leader in developing and implementing one of the aforementioned programs. The PEN PAL program evolved to include monthly coaching sessions designed to develop parent school leaders.. By building their capacity, they are more equipped to share skills, strategies and resources with other parents.
PEN does not work in a silo. Organizational leaders are constantly building partnerships with professional, businesses, organizations, and local, national, and international thought leaders who provide valuable services to our parents. Collaborative community partners are at times, supported by PEN resources in planning and marketing their own events when they also support PEN goals and mission.
Throughout our programs, PEN remains dedicated to reaching all families in the community, reflecting our deep appreciation of the strength within an equitable and inclusive community.
I love PEN because they come from a strength-based approach that understands that all parents are the best parents they know how to be. This is an empowering place to stand! PEN celebrates with parents when the river runs smoothly, and hold them up when the waves get rocky. I know firsthand, as PEN and its wonderful people were there to support me in raising my own kids who are now grown. PEN activities provide a place for parents, professionals and youth to gather, have fun, listen to experts, and share and learn from one another. I invite you to participate in some of our activities and share PEN with the parents at your school. Together we can raise our children in a community that is safe, supportive, and nurturing to all of our youth and families.
--Paula Nelson, PEN Board Chair
PEN's mission is to "Engage, educate and empower parents in developing the social-emotional, physical, & mental health, wellbeing and safety of youth, families and communities." In order to fulfill on this mission, PEN has brought on some exceptional talent in the past year. These individuals will be a huge contribution to helping PEN move forward in providing the best service we can to Boulder Valley families. In addition to continuing community-wide programs and activities and building individual PEN School Teams, PEN will be expanding the offerings over the next three years based on our recently developed 3 year business plan.
----Dr. Shelly Mahon, PEN Executive Director
Our ongoing challenge is to fundraise to sustain the growth we are experiencing and to meet the many requests we have to share our model with communities outside the Boulder Valley School District. As we expand our outreach we are also expanding our support from individual donors and businesses. We are excited to see how much further we will grow this year!
"While working with my son's PEN school team, I found that all parents speak the language of wanting the best for their kids. This universal language opens communication and support across barriers and is modeled by PEN volunteers." (Parent- PEN School Team Leader)
"Parents want to hear and learn from other parents. What have you done that worked? Sharing solutions saves time and resources and gives motivation and strength. Other parents have gone through the same things, what can we learn from each other?"(Parent- PEN Monthly Community Coaching)
"PEN reminds me of a sprinkler system: sharing positive influence through the community in overlapping patterns." BVSD Administrator
"The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) repeatedly shows that parents are the most important factor in youth decision-making. PEN continues to deliver outstanding programs and initiatives in our community that address the critical needs of supporting the social, emotional, physical and mental well-being of youth, families and communities. I am honored and committed to continue our work together and deepen the efforts to create a thriving community."
Boulder Valley School District Superintendent Bruce Messinger 2016 Letter to Principals
"Through a collaborative, community effort we have made strides to build a multicultural, multilingual team of parents involved in our school, and PEN has been an integral part of this development. My involvement with PEN has been beyond a positive experience of co-sharing with the leadership and volunteers, it is a co-generative experience based in inclusivity in which both organizations are striving to learn from one another in order to improve the lives of children and families in Boulder County. (Sanchez Elementary, Family Resource Coordinator)
"PEN is a natural partner in extending the work of the pilot project of the Boulder Safe Schools coalition to the parent community. PEN and BVSSC will together focus on parent training to educate and empower parents to talk with their students about respect for the rights of LGBTQ students and staff." Boulder Valley Safe Schools Coalition (BVSSC)
Parent comments following PEN community presentations and PEN School Team involvement:
"Our community is starving for parent connections."
"I thought I had a good relationship with my child, now I know I do, even though sometimes it doesn't feel like it."
"I found mentorship and acceptance with other parents" "It's great that parent concerns are no longer swept under the rug like they used to be."
"American culture is so individualistic; it's great to get to know other parents.
"What a relief to know I'm not alone."