Expand the Conversation
We believe good policies and programs are informed by evidence and built on the perspectives, strengths, and resilience of families. People and organizations around the country believe the same things and are seeing the promise of the two-generation approach to leverage the strength of families and achieve better outcomes for children and their parents together. In order to expand the growing conversation, Ascend:
- Engages family voices through nonpartisan focus groups, surveys, in-person convenings, and our parent ambassadors program;
- Develops publications, products, and tools that partners can use to build momentum around two-generation approaches and build political will.
Engaging Family Voices: Resilient and Empowered Families
Families are resilient, and their dreams for their children are strong. A low-income Latina mother in a focus group in Colorado said, “I am going to make it better…I am going to make [my daughter’s] life better. I will do whatever I can.” Across the country in Detroit, another mother said the same about her dream for her children, “A secure life, like for my children to have something they can start with, but I think a lot of times we don’t have anything to start with.” And in Florida, Lubens St. Fleur, a father and student at Miami Dade College, said, “When I look at my son, he’s eight now, I see my mom, and I think of what she said: America is a place where a nobody can be a somebody. I just want to show my son, don’t give up on your dreams.”
When it comes to building family economic security, the real experts are families. They know where the gaps in their lives are and what their dreams are. At Ascend, we know families need to be at the table. Via our parent ambassadors program, we work with parents who are interested in bringing their voice and experience in substantive ways to all of our national forums and issue-focused roundtables.
See the resources below to hear from parents and learn about engaging family perspectives in your own work:
- Towards a Two-Generation Strategy: Voices of American Families, Lake Research Partners and American Viewpoint (2011)
- Voices for Two-Generation Success: Seeking Stable Futures, Lake Reserach Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting (2013)
- "Seeking Stable Futures: Parent Voices" by Sarah Haight, from Two Generations. One Future: An Anthology from the Ascend Fellowship, pp. 56-59 (2014)
- Authoring Ourselves: Creating Transformational Narratives from the 2015 Aspen ThinkXChange (2014)
- "Storytelling Brings the Two-Gen Approach to Life" from Reimagining 2Gen Pathways: Bold Ideas for 2015 (2015)
- "At a poverty conference. In Aspen. Waiting on a call from prison." by Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post (2014)
- Look for posts featuring parents voices on our blog
Growing Public Will
A majority of Americans overwhelmingly believe a two-generation approach is most effective for moving families toward stability and opportunity (89%). This is true even if the approach raised their taxes (70%). Americans across demographics believe investing in a parent’s economic well-being will help their children succeed (71%). A majority of Americans favor policies that would help students enrolled in college who have young children (73%).
Focus groups with families and bipartisan national polling data commissioned by Ascend from 2011 to 2013 tell a complementary story. Families view college as an important step in achieving success in life but are aware and anxious about the high costs and debt associated with college. In focus groups with moms, they are keenly aware of the economic trade-offs as they chart their children’s path to a more stable future. They note also that access to child care is a barrier. If removed, it would free up time and money, critical at a time when stability remains the watchword for families in today’s economy.
See the following resources on the growing political will around two-generation approaches and how to message this momentum:
- Voices for Two-Generation Success: Opportunities for Policy Change and Messaging Tips
- Two-Generation Approaches: National Voices Project
- "The Message Box: A Shared Vision Will Fuel the Two-Gen Movement" from Reimagining 2Gen Pathways: Bold Ideas for 2015 (2015)
Click the graphic to learn more about Ascend's work.