• Engage: #2Gen

Two generations. One future.

Reimagining 2Gen Pathways:


Innovations from the Aspen ThinkXChange: National Forum on Two Generation Solutions

2015 ThinkXChange Publication cover

As drivers of two-generation outcomes, the Ascend Network is prototyping models, aligning resources, and advancing policies that improve economic mobility and opportunity for low-income families around the country.

Reimagining 2Gen Pathways: Bold Ideas for 2015 highlights innovations and models shared by the Ascend Network and field leaders at the 2014 Aspen ThinkXChange, the national forum on two-generation solutions. The publication is divided into ten big ideas for catalyzing two-generation outcomes. Ascend at the Aspen Institute is grateful to the leaders highlighted in this digital publication, including the 58 Network Partners; leading researchers and philanthropists; practitioners; and parents who contributed their thinking and voices at the 2014 ThinkXChange.

Download the entire publication here.




Publication Essays:

Click the orange text to download individual essays

Introduction: 2014 Aspen ThinkXChange: Transforming Lives & Living Our Values, Two Generations at a Time

1. Storytelling Brings The Two-Gen Approach To Life: Five inspiring leaders took the 2014 ThinkXChange stage and unleased powerful narratives of resilience and ingenuity. Their stories illustrated the importance of storytelling and the urgent need to transcend a one-dimensional portrait of opportunity, leadership, poverty, and strength in America.

2. Networks are the New Innovation Drivers: Innovative organizations pioneering two-generation approaches are more powerful collectively than on their own. The Ascend Network, consisting of 58 organizations, two classes of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows and a group of philanthropic partners is building a knowledge base for real and scalable impact for families.

3. Early Care and Education Can Launch Two-Generation SolutionsEarly childhood development programs have proven to be an ideal launch pad for two-generation policy and programming. Many early education two-generation programs throughout the United States are demonstrating that parents’ educational attainment and economic security are an integral part of early childhood development and learning.

4. Digital Tools and Data Systems Stimulate Parent Engagement And Family SuccessThere is an opportunity to harness evolving digital technology for social good. The Ascend Network and leading two-generation leaders are developing apps and tools to connect more effectively with low-income families, while examining issues of cost, transparency, and sustainability.

5. Emerging Brain Science Informs New Interventions — And Empowers ParentsThe Ascend Network is building on a growing evidence base for early interventions to identify connections among brain development, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and long-term health outcomes for children and adults.

6. Leverage the Affordable Care Act for Better Family OutcomesIn 2012, one in five American adults under the age of 65 was living without health insurance. A group of Ascend Network partners are working to close this gap.  The Affordable Care Act presents opportunities to provide more comprehensive and affordable care to children and their parents together.

7. Social Capital is an Accelerator for Family Stability And StrengthSocial capital: the network of people and institutions upon which a family relies; the secret sauce to impacting two generations. But how is it quantified? How can a program model create an environment to foster it? Two-generation leaders have some insights on just how to intentionally build social capital among families while honoring the resilience of parents and children and together.

8. Engage Employers through Cross-Sector StrategiesAscend Network Partners are considering how better to tap the private sector to improve workforce opportunities for low-income parents. Stackable credential training programs; professional development opportunities for entry-level employees; and public-private partnerships are each pathways for two-generation success. This essay captures how new models – and re-vamped established ones – can lead to living-wage jobs and strengthen the economy.

9. Fathers are Critical to Families’ Climb Up The Economic LadderGrowing research and practice lessons point toward the importance of more intentionally integrating fathers into solutions for low-income families. Colorado Department of Human Services, United Way of Cincinnati and Visible Men Academy are addressing the issue of fatherhood at two ends of the generational cycle.

10. The Message Box: A Shared Vision Will Fuel the Two-Gen MovementBraiding, blending, collaboration, partnering. See how programs are strengthening their shared language, models and outcomes for parents and children, together, while busting internal and external silos.