Aspen Forum on Children and Families 2017

January 6, 2017 | Convenings

On January 24 and 25, 2017, Ascend hosted its first major convening of the year: The Aspen Forum on Children and Families. This convening brought together policymakers, parents, practitioners, researchers, and philanthropists to lift up a set of solid ideas for investing in the economic stability and educational success of children and families.

Below, you can find video recordings of the event, along with the report, agenda, and other resources.

YouTube Recordings: 

January 24

January 25

Report: Children and Families at the Center

Featured Presentations

In the following video, Nobel Laureate Dr. James Heckman introduces his research on the high ROI associated with investing in early childhood education

Moreover, Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, and Brian Nienaber, vice president of the Tarrance Group, demonstrated strong support for the 2Gen approach from both sides of the aisle. 74 percent of those polled signaled support for the 2Gen approach, even if it raised their taxes. Their slides are available here.

Deep Dives on the Issues


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Registration

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm: Opening and Welcome

• Mike Bezos, Vice President, Bezos Family Foundation; Trustee, the Aspen Institute
• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Fueling Child and Family Well Being: Parent Voices, Public Opinion, and Leader Perspectives

• Celinda Lake, President, Lake Research Partners
• Brian Nienaber, Vice President, The Tarrance Group
• Robert Doar, Resident Fellow and Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute
• Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
• Steven Clemons, Journalist, Washington Editor-At-Large, The Atlantic (Invited)

Get a clear understanding of the perspectives of parents and public opinion around the issues facing children and families and the solutions that voters support. Leading Democratic and Republican pollsters will highlight findings from parent focus groups and a bi-partisan 2016 election eve poll commissioned by Ascend. Policy experts will reflect on these findings and highlight the opportunities for advancing child and family policies at the community, state, and federal level.

5:00 pm – 5:45 pm: Building Political Will so All Families Have the Opportunity to Succeed

• U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D – New Mexico)
• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Moderator

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, ranking member of the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, shares his vision for increasing opportunities for families by aligning and linking existing systems and funding streams. Senator Heinrich will discuss The Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act, a bipartisan bill he will re-introduce during the 115th Congress with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R – Maine), which will lead to more families getting ahead while streamlining the programs available to them and ensuring they are family-centric and results-oriented.

5:45 pm – 6:00 pm: Reflections from the Day: Strategies for Child and Family Well-Being 

• Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus
• Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO, Global Policy Solutions
• Dr. Aparna Mathur, Resident Scholar, Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute
• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Seasoned policy experts will offer their reflections on the earlier sessions and their perspectives on how to advance a child and family agenda in 2017.

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Connecting and Networking Reception

• Janet Froetscher, President, J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

8:15 am – 8:45 am: Continental Breakfast and Networking

8:45 am – 9:15 am: Welcome and Why We are Gathered

• Marjorie Sims, Managing Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Making Gains for Children and Families: A Two-Generation Approach to Lasting Economic Security  

• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

We start a new year in a dramatically different political climate with an opportunity to strengthen our country’s top asset: families. By building effective, efficient, and equitable systems and services to power the cycle of opportunity for children and adults together, we can achieve long-lasting educational success and economic stability. We will examine the top ideas for making this a reality.

9:15 am – 10:00 am: Creating the Programs that Parents Need: Fewer Headaches, More Results

• Rynn Bell, Teacher’s Associate, Jefferson County Head Start
• Tameka Henry, Chair, Board of Directors, Acelero Learning Clark County; and Case Administrator, New Foundations
• Ariel Ventura-Lazo, Student Ambassador and Office Specialist, Adult Career Pathways and Career Services, Northern Virginia Community College
• Amber Angel, Program Coordinator, Family Resource Center, Los Angeles Valley College
• Carla Thompson Payton, Vice President for Program Strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Moderator

To build strong families, we need to dismantle the traps of poverty and understand what families really need in life. We will hear from parents about opportunities to improve and innovate on the systems we have, so they are more intuitive, equitable, and impactful.

10:00 am – 11:00 am: Magnifying the Bright Spots: Insights and Innovations to Power a Cycle of Opportunity 

• Dr. Laurie Miller Brotman, Bezos Family Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Development; Director, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development, NYU Langone Medical Center
• Gloria Perez, President and CEO, Jeremiah Program
• Daniella Gratale, Senior Manager of Advocacy, Nemours Children’s Health System
• Marjorie Sims, Managing Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Moderator

To identify new opportunities that make programs and services meet families’ real needs, we need a clearer picture of the data, evidence, and innovations in the field. Practitioners from different sectors will share their models and evidenced-based programs that advance educational attainment and the health and well-being of children and families.

11:00 am – 11:15 am: Break and Networking 

11:15 am – 12:00 pm: Starting Early, Starting Strong: Early Childhood Development Programs to Strengthen Families

• J.B. Pritzker, Chairman, J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
• Jackie Bezos, President, Bezos Family Foundation
• Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, the Aspen Institute, Moderator

We will hear from two leading investors in early childhood development programs and explore strategies and opportunities to reach more children and their families at the local, state, and national level. 

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Break and Networking Lunch

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm: Return on Investment: Long-term Results of Investing Early

• Dr. James J. Heckman, Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics
• Dr. Meera Mani, Director of Children, Families and Communities Program, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, Moderator

Nobel Prize winner in economics Dr. James J. Heckman will share his new research findings demonstrating how investing early can improve life outcomes for children and lead to a strong return on investment for society.

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm: Break and Networking 

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Innovating at the State Level: Driving a National Movement

• Melvin Carter, Executive Director, Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet
• Will Lightbourne, Director, California Department of Social Services
• John Davis, Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Human Services
• Raquel Hatter, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Human Services
• Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Assistant Director for Policy, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Moderator

States and local communities are finding that a 2Gen approach is an effective way to fight poverty. State innovations are creating a new culture of collaboration that breaks children and families free from the traps of poverty and empowers them to reach their full potential. In this session, state services leaders will share how they implement a 2Gen approach to reduce poverty within their communities.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Accelerating Action and Collaboration: The Opportunity Ahead

• Barbara Fabre, Director, White Earth Early Childhood/Child Care Programs
• Mindy Ysasi, Executive Director, THE SOURCE
• Joe Waters, Executive Vice President, Institute for Child Success
• Maisha Simmons, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
• Anne Mosle, Vice President, the Aspen Institute; Executive Director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

We have important opportunities to make real gains for children and families in 2017 and beyond. As we close the day, national and community leaders will share their perspectives on the Forum’s discussions and the work ahead.


Midpoint Snapshots, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

By the Numbers: 3rd grade reading call to actionCampaign for Grade-Level Reading

Towards Bigger Outcomes: Taking on the Health Determinants of Early School Success, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Messaging Guide and Tip Sheet, Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Alliances for Reaching Community Health Equity, Global Health Solutions

Related Posts

I started off the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival at Aspen Words Book Ball, a passion project of Isa Catto and Daniel Shaw.
Ascend FellowshipJune 25, 2022
This year, the Aspen Idea Festival returns to in-person programming at our campus in the Rocky Mountains June 25 - July 1, 2022.
Ascend FellowshipJune 15, 2022
On Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community hosted a panel discussion about the recently proposed federal legislation on paid leave. This webinar presented how and why this proposed legislation matters and shared opportunities to advance paid leave locally and nationally. Watch Now Presenters and Panelists Vicki Shabo – New …

Webinar: Accelerating Paid Leave for Families Read More »

June 3, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

PelotonU: Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voice Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
Back to School Event
Governors, mayors, and families are on the front lines of communities coping with changes in the pandemic world. As the school year begins, the Aspen Institute turns to representatives of these three groups to ask: How can we support students and families in this unprecedented school year? On August 26, Ascend and the Aspen Education …

Virtual Discussion: How Communities and Political Leaders Can Support Schools This Year Read More »

BlogAugust 21, 2020
Physical and mental health and well-being are core components of the two-generation approach that builds family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and the adults in their lives to move whole families toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. Childhood trauma, for instance, has lasting health and social consequences. Similarly, economic …

Transforming Child and Family Mental Health in Washington, DC Read More »

BlogJuly 22, 2020
States and communities are where policy translates into real life outcomes. For nearly a decade, state and local entities have leveraged various federal programs and funding streams to integrate systems and services through a 2Gen approach. This powerful momentum is bipartisan, practical, scalable and most importantly, centered around families – their needs, their experiences, and their voices.   The new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Poverty Reduction: …

Virtual Briefing: Milestone Federal Report Drives 2Gen Momentum Read More »

BlogJuly 9, 2020
The Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative at Ascend at the Aspen Institute hosted a two-day convening to mark entering its second phase. More than 50 researchers, philanthropists, higher education administrators, policymakers, and student parents gathered at the Aspen Institute office in Washington, D.C. for a strategy session titled, “Postsecondary Completion: What Works for …

Postsecondary Completion: What Works for Parents Read More »

BlogFebruary 12, 2020
Families must be at the center of any and all work to address intergenerational poverty. That’s why our Aspen ThinkXChange 2019, which focused on using a two-generation (2Gen) approach to advance family prosperity, began the way that it did – with more than 240 leaders (parents, practitioners, and policymakers) listening and learning from families. At …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: 240 Leaders Convene to Advance Family Prosperity Read More »

BlogOctober 31, 2019
Two-generation (2Gen) convenings have the potential to create change for whole systems and the lives of the families they serve. This planning guide is the first step. Having planned and supported more than 100 2Gen convenings, Ascend has cultivated a depth of knowledge for the practical elements and nuanced factors that result in successful convenings. …

New Toolkit Offers Tips on Designing a 2Gen Convening Read More »

BlogOctober 25, 2019
It was another great day of provocative conversation at ThinkXChange. Here are three of our favorite insights from the breakout group on cash transfers: “Poverty is the absence of cash flow. If you want to solve poverty, give people money. That’s it. We can solve poverty if we want to.” — Anthony Barrows, managing director …

“We can solve poverty if we want to.” Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
Speakers onstage at 2019 Aspen ThinkXChange
The racial wealth gap is well-documented and undisputedly real. The median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median African-American family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. And things are getting worse, not better: The proportion of black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to …

Real solutions for closing the very real racial wealth gap Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
With family voices at the center, Ascend brought together leaders from across key issues and sectors at the Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: Advancing Family Prosperity on October 15-18 in Aspen, Colorado, to share bold ideas, generate new strategies, and identify critical partnerships to move families toward opportunity in the decade ahead. The convening highlighted inherent strengths of families with …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019 Round-up: Materials and Videos Read More »

BlogSeptember 25, 2019
At the second Aspen Forum on Children and Families last month we brought together national leaders – policymakers, practitioners, researchers, philanthropists and parents – to surface big ideas for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time. Centering parents’ and caregivers’ perspectives is vital to Ascend and our work with …

Meeting Parents Where They Dream: Critical Voices and Lived Experiences Read More »

BlogMarch 21, 2019
As state and federal lawmakers prepare for the year ahead, more than 350 practice and community leaders, policymakers, researchers, and philanthropists - including Ascend Fellows, Family Prosperity Innovators, and Ascend Network Partners - joined us at the 2019 Aspen Forum on Children and Families to harness this momentum for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time.
BlogMarch 13, 2019