Two Generations. One Future.

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.

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New Fact Sheet and Mental Health Brief: Understanding and Supporting Student Parents


With 22 percent of the undergraduate student population comprised of parents with children, policymakers and institutions must explore the unique needs of this population and address the challenges that may prevent parents from attaining their degree. This includes determining what systems, services, and approaches best support their mental health needs. As part of the Aspen Postsecondary…

Social Capital Leads to Postsecondary Innovation


A “Basic Principles of Business Administration” textbook open on the table, a curious toddler – with a newfound interest in insects – in her lap, and a community of Parent Advisors supporting her education goals. This was the pathway to postsecondary inclusion and success envisioned by Ascend with the launch of the Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative on November 1, 2018: students who are parents supported…

Unlocking the Power of Parenting: Opportunities from the LEGO Idea Conference

“All parents want what’s best for their children. How do we close the gap for low-income parents to ensure they have the same opportunity and resources as other families in achieving those goals?” – Ariel Kalil, Ascend Fellow and Speaker, 2019 LEGO Idea Conference Earlier this month I flew to Billund, Denmark (population: just over…

Women Leadership Fuels Prosperity for Families

As a state senator and Campaign Advisor for Family Values @ Work, a national network of state-based coalitions fighting for paid leave, I often think about the power of women organizing as activists and as legislators. In my seven years in office, I have seen how having women in leadership positions leads to policies that…