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Be a part of Family Connections

Vision, Mission & History

Our Vision: Thriving kids through thriving families

Our Mission: To create the highest quality family learning community so underserved children and parents together become the drivers of their own success.

Our programs and services are free so that all low-income families in our community, regardless of their circumstances, can participate. Our parent participation preschools provide enriching early learning experiences for birth-to-five year olds, resulting in children who arrive at kindergarten academically and socially ready to learn. After preschool, our Young Scholars program sustains positive family dynamics and learning opportunities for kindergarten through high school so that participating students and their families have the tools and resources to become the drivers of their own success and leaders in their extended communities. Throughout the years, our parent leadership education and holistic family support systems help parents confidently and successfully embrace their role as their child’s first teacher, most influential role model and best advocate.

We believe Family Connections helps ...

  • Give children the confidence needed for a successful start in Kindergarten.
  • Prepare parents for their children’s academics after preschool
  • Make parents better parents and more effective advocates of their children’s education.
  • Improve academic performance and reduce high school drop out rates.
  • Create happier families because parents receive education on how to work effectively with their children and children start Kindergarten with an enthusiasm for school and learning.
  • Break the cycle of poverty: a student who goes to preschool has a statistically better chance of succeeding in life.

A brief review of our history:


Family Connections is founded (as the East Palo Alto Child Center) by Little Hands: A Parent-Child Center with the support of the Sequoia Adult School.  Seven families meet with Teacher Angela Jaime in an apartment in the Carriage Manor Apartment Complex in East Palo Alto.


The East Palo Alto Child Center moves to a building in East Palo Alto.


Robin Holcomb becomes the first paid Family Connections Director.


The East Palo Alto Child Center becomes officially known as Family Connections.


Family Connections begins to meet in a classroom at the Belle Haven Elementary School.


A permanent home in a portable building at the Belle Haven elementary school is found with the support of the City of Menlo Park.


Two annual fundraisers begin — An Evening with Children’s Authors in the fall and a rummage sale in the spring.


Family Connections is granted tax exempt 501(c)(3) status and becomes independent from Little Hands.


Two new classroom locations are added — in East Palo Alto at the Girls Club and at Clara Mateo Homeless Shelter.  Teacher Lorena Cadenas is hired to teach at both sites.


Renee Zimmerman is hired as the first full-time Executive Director of Family Connections.


The “Kickoff to Kindergarten” summer program, funded by First 5 San Mateo County in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and run by Family Connections, is launched.


Following the closure of the Girls Club, Family Connections temporarily relocates to the St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto.


Family Connections’ first permanent facility at 1070 Beech Street in East Palo Alto is opened.


The dream of opening a classroom in Redwood City is realized with support from the Sequoia Union High School District.  Family Connections relocates its program from the Clara Mateo classroom to Redwood City.


A third teacher, Margarita Ventura is hired to teach at our East Palo Alto site.


Family Connections expands its Kickoff to Kindergarten program to serve children in both Ravenswood City School District and the Redwood City School District.


Family Connections receives Redwood City Mayor’s Beautification Award for its redesigned outdoor space at 4th Ave site (thanks in part to a Rebuilding Together grant).


A record number of 550 individuals are served in one year through Family Connections (combining KTK and school year program).


Family Connections implements new fundraiser to replace Authors Night called Night of Dreams Dinner and Celebration Event.


Family Connections raises more money in Annual Campaign than ever before thanks to increased Board of Directors efforts.


Family Connections adds two new programs. The Nurturing Families Program serves families with children newborn to 2.9 years old and focuses on a curriculum specifically designed for infants and toddlers.  The Young Scholars Program provides ongoing support, enrichment activities, parent education and mentoring to alumni children and their families.


Family Connections receives the Fatherhood Service Award from the Fatherhood Collaborative of San Mateo County.


Family Connections’ annual budget exceeds $1M for the first time.


Family Connections hires its first full-time Development Director.


Family Connections moves to dedicated administrative offices in Redwood Shores.

“Children who are not only proficient in Kindergarten Academics but are also on track with their Social Expression skills – especially their ability to express needs and wants, as well as their curiosity and eagerness for learning – display an extra boost in test scores four years later.”

Santa Clara Partnership for School Readiness study, “Does Readiness Matter? How Kindergarten Readiness Translates Into Academic Success”, April 2008