Announcing: Ascend and JED’s Mental Health Partnership for Student Parents

David Croom | December 3, 2020 | Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents, Press

Contact: Alexis Williams
Ascend at the Aspen Institute


Ascend at the Aspen Institute and The Jed Foundation Announce Partnership
To Develop a Mental Health Framework Focused on Students who are Parents

Based on results from a literature review released today, leaders will develop evidence-based resources and expert-informed recommendations to address the mental health needs of student parents in higher education.

Washington, DC (December 3, 2020) – Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute and The Jed Foundation (JED) announced they are building a framework to support the mental health of student parents pursuing postsecondary credentials. This framework, which will be released in 2021, will focus on the persistence of student parents by tackling two distinct but interrelated issues: improving mental health supports on campus for student parents in order to raise graduation rates, and sharing clear guidance to postsecondary mental health providers.

Supporting student mental health is a recognized component of effective, comprehensive strategies to promote postsecondary completion and to pave the way for economic mobility. Development of this framework began with a literature review and virtual engagement with a group of student parents, mental health advocates, and postsecondary experts.

Today, the organizations released a literature review titled The Mental Health Challenges Experienced by Student Parents. The report by Shirley Leyro, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice at Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, highlights the scarce amount of literature available on this underserved college population and explores the unique mental health challenges faced by the various subgroups with which student parents intersect, including race, marital status, and gender.

“From financial hardship to the stressors that come with being both a college student and primary caregiver and household provider, the obstacles experienced by parenting students are significant,” Dr. Leyro wrote in the report.

The literature review cites survey data collected by Ascend Network Partners, including The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice and Generation Hope, among others.

“There is a tremendous appetite for increased access to emotional and mental health services and we are proud to partner with JED to research and address the mental health needs of student parents,” said Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend. “Mental health resources for student parents support a two-generation (2Gen) approach to build family well-being. Without the right support and opportunities to expand their social capital, student parents struggle to accomplish their postsecondary goals and create a better future for themselves and their children. The creation of these new resources, starting with this literature review, will better inform postsecondary institutions of practical strategies to promote academic persistence and advance success.”

Over the next year, Ascend and JED will collaborate with parents, researchers, and higher education professionals to gather and analyze information on the student parent postsecondary experience, as well as share a framework of recommendations for colleges to support student parent mental health. Once completed, JED will integrate this framework into its Higher Education Programs, JED Campus, which is currently implemented at more than 300 colleges and universities. This work is part of the Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative, which launched in 2018 and is supported by Imaginable Futures and ECMC Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Ascend on this critically important project,” said John McPhee, executive director and CEO of JED. “The population of students who are parents experiences additional stressors and challenges that have long been overlooked in higher education and we are hoping to combine our mental health expertise with Ascend’s deep knowledge of the student parent population to produce genuinely groundbreaking strategies for supporting the mental health of student parents in higher education. Our recommendations will be practical and actionable for professionals trying to better support the mental health of student parents. We also hope they will serve as a catalyst in the movement to better recognize and support the millions of college students who are also parents – young adults who have been underserved often under considered.”

Download The Mental Health Challenges Experienced by Student Parents here.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. We embrace a commitment to racial equity and a gender lens. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The Jed Foundation (JED) is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health. For more information, visit



Related Posts

In episode 101 of the Office Hours with EAB podcast, David Croom shares compelling success stories and recommendations on creative ways for institutions to partner with local businesses and community leaders to offer more support and wraparound services to help student-parents succeed.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 26, 2022
So our Ascend team was thrilled to host a virtual book talk with Nicole Lynn Lewis, author of Pregnant Girl: A Story of Teen Motherhood, College, and Creating a Better Future for Young Families.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMarch 10, 2022
David Croom and our Postsecondary Success for Parents partners were featured in NPR discussing the opportunities for colleges and universities to make higher ed more accessible for parenting students. “Parents experience this concept called time poverty,” says David Croom, the assistant director for postsecondary achievement and innovation at Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “They have about …

4 Tips for Parents and Caregivers Who Want to Go to College Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsFebruary 21, 2022
Poverty is the result of poor policy choices. These choices reflect our national values and decide who deserves access to opportunity to achieve their dreams and who does not. This flawed mindset has led to persistent inequities and a hollowing of our shared humanity. Change is possible. The choice is ours.
Ascend FellowshipJanuary 21, 2022
Daniel Williams was featured in MiBiz discussing his long-term plan to help guide families from intergenerational poverty. “So often what happens is we provide early investments in folks — whether through career training or food benefits, for example. We support families on their front end of their journey, but instead of doubling down on that support, we remove it. They hit the benefits cliff. If they get a raise, they don’t get access to certain benefits,” he said. “We know there’s a gap from what workers are earning and family income to what it actually costs to live and thrive in our community.”
PressJanuary 16, 2022
Student parents are a key population - one that represents over 20 percent of the postsecondary student population and the state of California. How can the state’s systems prepare for this key population?
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJanuary 11, 2022
It took me many years as a professional in the world of higher education before I had a personal epiphany: for me and my family, our academic success as student parents was not only a two-generation (2Gen) strategy that uplifted me and my children, it was a four-generation strategy that set up our family’s success for generations to come.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsOctober 26, 2021
Ascend at the Aspen Institute and The Jed Foundation Release a New Mental Health Framework with Recommendations for Supporting the Mental Health of Students Who Are Parents Washington, DC – A new study released today by Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) and The Jed Foundation (JED) finds that more than two in five (43 percent) …

New Study: Student Parents in College Experience Unique Mental Health Challenges but Lack Access to Support on Campus Read More »

PressMay 26, 2021
Shaquana Graham is a single mother of three beautiful children. She lives in The Bronx, NY, and is currently a full-time student at Bronx Community College.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMay 24, 2021
After Yoslin had her first son, she knew she had to go to college and earn her degree to break her family’s cycle of poverty. During that time, she applied to become a Generation Hope scholar and has been part of their program for four years.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMay 17, 2021
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Lesley Del Rio and her son Leo enjoy all the great activities that the state offers. She graduated from Florence Crittenton High School in 2013 and is working toward her B.A. degree in business administration through an online platform called AdvanceEDU and Southern New Hampshire University.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMay 10, 2021
Lynnette Coney is a mother to three boys, ages four, eight, and 10. Lynnette grew up in foster care from 1992 to 2003, which endowed her with a strong sense of independence.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMay 3, 2021
Rashika Lee was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. She currently works for Spectrum Health on the Patient Liability Support Team and helps patients understand billing and insurance.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 26, 2021
Lorena is a single mother in the process of rebuilding her life. Though it has been challenging, she wouldn’t change a thing. Being a mother has not only been her greatest joy, but it has allowed her to find her vocation and pursue her lifelong love of health and science.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 19, 2021
Sydney is currently a pre-law student. She spends most of her free time with her 22-month-old daughter Amiyah, painting, going for walks, and spending time with friends and family.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 12, 2021