Thursday, March 5, 2020
Contact: James White
Ascend at the Aspen Institute
Tel: 202.721.2326

Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Kresge Foundation Partner to Surface Innovations to More Effectively Engage Fathers for Family Prosperity

Leaders will collaborate to develop a set of policy recommendations and best practices to strengthen the engagement of fathers for family economic mobility

Washington, DC – Ascend at the Aspen Institute is excited to announce the Aspen Institute Fatherhood Learning and Action Community: a group of three fathers and 11 organizations with demonstrated expertise in and strong capacity and will to engage and support fathers for family prosperity. This learning and action initiative will identify and document policy barriers, best practices, and opportunities for father engagement and support. It will also package and disseminate policy ideas and strong strategies via print and multi-media tools (e.g., parent stories, social media campaigns, blogs, video clips, and issue briefs) to policymakers, practitioners, and philanthropists. 

Community members will share their expertise and experiences working with fathers and collaborate to develop a set of policy recommendations and best practices to strengthen the engagement of fathers for family economic mobility.




Since our founding, Ascend has centered its efforts on improving the economic mobility of families with low incomes, the majority of whom are headed by single mothers. However, it is increasingly clear that strong communities cannot be built without acknowledging and addressing the clear and intentional marginalization of fathers, particularly those of color. Evidence also shows that when both parents are actively engaged with children – even when they live in different homes – the whole family experiences more prosperous outcomes.

With these recognitions, underscored by ongoing gender analysis and the innovative work of Ascend Fellows and Ascend Network Partners, we realize the dearth of policies and programs that support and uplift fathers. It is important to understand and address the specific challenges fathers face when engaging with their families and pursuing their own education and career objectives. Policymakers, systems leaders, and practitioners need to rethink and retool public policies and services to truly work for 21st-century families, which must include a commitment to fathers that complements our long- standing commitment to mothers in service of the whole family’s well-being. 

To that end, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, Ascend is proud to announce the launch of this year-long learning and action initiative. 

The ideas and work produced by this group will be supported and amplified by the Ascend Network. Launched in 2014, the Network consists of over 380 organizations and 80 Fellows working in 41 states and the District of Columbia. They represent the leading edge of practice, policy, and research efforts focused on creating intergenerational cycles of opportunities for families with low incomes.

Join us as we embark on this exciting and crucial venture. What matters most to the fathers in your community? What kinds of policies, practices, or system changes would create opportunity or remove barriers to fathers contributing to family prosperity? Share with us on Twitter at @AspenAscend with #FatherFactor.

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 Kresge Foundationwas founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. 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