In Phase I, the emphasis was on well-established programs serving those parents considered most likely to be at risk for child abuse based on their personal environmental conditions.

Six organizations were invited to participate in a process that required each of them to submit a copy of the curricula used in its parenting education program to the Foundation for review.

We enlisted a number of local experts in either child development or parent education who worked in teams to review each of the curriculums. Those experts were:

  • Laura Beizer, Ph.D., Ellison Family Center, Palo Alto College
  • Mary Contie, private consultant
  • Anita Gonzalez, Director of Child Development, San Antonio ISD
  • Mary Ruth Moore, Professor, Incarnate Word College
  • Juliana Perez, Match Program
  • Linda Ruhmann, Professor of Child Development, San Antonio College
  • Harriett Romo, Ph.D., Professor, Evaluator of HeadStart and other child-focused programs

Teams of these experts reviewed the curricula of the six agencies using the following criteria:

  1. Flexibility: Use of both Spanish and English and ability to tailor to the population being trained (fathers, teen parents, grandparents, single mothers) and to varying educational and literacy levels.
  2. Active Learning/Parenting: Use of activities to practice at home, planned parent/child interaction, alternative teaching methods, problem solving, parent interaction and family inclusion.
  3. Training/Support for Trainers: Availability of ongoing training, adequate materials, manuals and culturally sensitive trainers.
  4. Evaluation: Use of various tools to evaluate effectiveness of training and data indicating program is effective.
  5. Research Based: Inclusion of brain research findings included in curriculum.
  6. Content/Topic Areas: A comprehensive set of key content areas included in curriculum. Reinforcement approaches included in methodology.

The experts provided recommendations for updating the curricula in use by the agencies to ensure that parents would receive parenting education with the highest possible standard regardless of which program they attended. The grants included amounts for upgrading the existing curricula where necessary.

All six organizations submitted proposals and three were selected for funding. One of the other three organizations was included in Phase II. In July 2001 the Foundation awarded a total of $1.9 million over three years in the first grants of the Precious Minds, New Connections Initiative.