• Engage: #2Gen

Two generations. One future.

About Us

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.  Ascend takes a two-generation approach to our work – focusing on children and their parents together – and we bring a gender and racial equity lens to our analysis.  We believe that education, economic supports, social capital, and health and well-being are the core elements that create an intergenerational cycle of opportunity.  As a new model of social innovation, we are building a brain trust of diverse leaders through a national fellowship program and learning network; elevating and investing in two-generation programs, policies, and community solutions; and sparking and expanding a conversation to ensure the perspectives and resilience of families inform program design and policy development.

In the United States today, nearly 45 percent of all children — more than 30.5 million children — live in low-income families.  Almost three-fourths of single-mother families with children are low income.  We believe that a country in which millions of families, especially those headed by women, are struggling for economic stability is not an equitable or sustainable one.  The long-term economic prosperity of our country is at risk when parents and children, both of whom are resilient in spite of great odds, struggle to achieve educational and economic success.   

Learn about our work here.

Our Values

Each of these values informs our belief that the solution is more powerful than the problem and that we can — and will — create conditions that allow economic security for all families.

We adapt quickly and efficiently to take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges, and we engage with diverse collaborators across sectors while pursuing our goals.

We are not simply willing, but eager, to make change happen. We take risks to catalyze change and accomplish our goals.

We tackle problems in fresh ways by bringing diverse — and sometimes unconventional — resources and partners to the table.

We are clear about our goals and mission, and we are resilient in the face of challenges.

We hold ourselves to the highest standards and maintain a strong focus on quality.  We seek out partners and collaborators with the same high expectations and commitment.

Parent Voices: Dreams For The Future?See allnext

“Maybe just an opportunity to get a better job or to advance. You know, get a job and then maybe be able to advance.”

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