Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Adriana Ruiz Alvarado, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Hideko Sera, Psy. D.

Matthew A. Witenstein, Ph.D.


Action Research; College Access Program; Family engagement and involvement; First-generation college students; Funds of Knowledge; Latinos


Educational Leadership


In the United States there exists an educational attainment gap for Latino students. Numerous studies show that Latinos lag behind their counterparts of all ethno-racial backgrounds in higher education degree completion (Acevedo-Gil, Santos, Alonso, & Solorzano, 2015; Davila & Aviles de Bradley, 2010; Gonzalez, Stoner, & Jovel, 2003; Perez & McDonough, 2008; Yosso, 2002). College access programs (CAPs) have the potential to impact first-generation Latino students by supporting them with college access resources and also help them navigate potential barriers to higher education (Knaggs, Sodergeld,& Schardt, 2014). Another important source of support to these students is their families. Latino families value education, make it a priority, and encourage their children in their educational pursuits (Kiyama, 2010; Trevino & DeFreitas, 2014). However, CAPs focus on supporting students and do not all include parent programing that would engage and involve family participation in order to enhance the support that students receive from their families (Tierney & Auerbach, 2005). This study utilizes an insider action research methodology in examining the Rochford College Access Program (RCAP) Family Academy because the primary researcher is also the Program Director. Parent participants were interviewed in the hopes of determining the influence of RCAP’s Family Academy on Latino parents of student participants. The findings of the study built upon each other to explain why Latino parents who had not earned a college degree would support their children in committing to a college access program. Major themes that emerged in response to the research questions included: (1) promised resources, (2) parents’ determination to support their children, (3) parent expectations, (4) opportunities for students, families, and communities, (5) cultural support provided by families, and (6) the value of education. The study concludes with a three-pronged action plan that was developed utilizing the findings of this study that satisfies the criteria for insider action research, a discussion of the implications for practice in engaging families in CAPs, and recommendations for future research.


© 2019 Jennifer C. King

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