A Cord of Three Strands:
A New Approach to Parent Engagement


How can low-income, non-English-speaking parents become advocates, leaders, and role models in their children’s schools? A Cord of Three Strands offers a close study of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, a grassroots organization on the northwest side of Chicago, whose work on parent engagement has drawn national attention.

The author identifies three elements—induction, integration, and investment—that together capture the dynamic and developmental nature of successful parent engagement. Writing with both optimism and urgency, author Soo Hong offers richly detailed portraits of parents’ experiences and addresses the complex and sometime conflicting relationships among school, family, and community.


In this wonderful book, Soo Hong expertly navigates the tricky terrain between home and school. Instead of dwelling on dysfunction, she cuts to the core: the need to build trusting relationships and equalize the distribution of power. This is hard, painstaking work, and she illuminates it with authentic and insightful detail. This book will advance our understanding about why family engagement must be a core strategy for school improvement.

— Anne T. Henderson, senior consultant, Community Organizing and Engagement, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Soo Hong’s A Cord of Three Strands is a fine ethnography of the power of education organizing in the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. It reminds us of the urgent need to find new ways to cultivate the tacit and often underutilized resources of parents and community members in our urban areas. This inspiring account shows how schools can be transformed and pupil achievement raised when we blend our finest professional development with the excitement of grassroots participatory democracy.

— Dennis Shirley, professor, Lynch School of Education, Boston College

Soo Hong has given us a rich, nuanced, and beautifully written account of one of the most important community organizing efforts to improve public schools in this country. A Cord of Three Strands shows how immigrant parents can become leaders in their schools and communities. Hong analyzes in great depth and careful detail the deep collaborations that the Logan Square Neighborhood Association has forged with Chicago schools to help make them more responsive to Latino immigrant families, so that they become centers for broader community building and revitalization. This compelling account of relationship building and leadership development offers vital lessons for educators and all Americans who care about the education of immigrant children and the future of our public schools.

— Mark R. Warren, associate professor of education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Read Education Week’s article about A Cord of Three Strands and Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s efforts to break down barriers between immigrant families and schools.

Listen to a webinar hosted by Annenberg Institute for School Reform on building meaningful parent engagement with author Soo Hong and community organizers, parents, and administrators in Chicago.

While touring for her book, A Cord of Three Strands, author Soo Hong spoke to Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich about parent engagement in schools. Click here to read the article.