Aspen Institute Announces First-Ever Parent Powered Solutions Fund Grantees

David Croom | October 22, 2020 | Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents, Press Releases

Contact: Alexis Williams
Ascend at the Aspen Institute  

Aspen Institute Announces First-Ever Parent Powered Solutions Fund Awardees 

Parent Leaders Select Six Organizations Championing College Success for 
Undergraduate Students Raising Children 

Washington, DC – Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced the recipients of the Aspen Parent Powered Solutions Fund – the first student parent-led fund dedicated to advancing the work of organizations and initiatives that support student parents’ postsecondary success. The inaugural awardees are pursuing a host of issues – from creating student parent advisory councils and offering mental health counseling supports to providing emergency financial resources and compensating parents for their expertise. They will each receive $25,000 over the next year to develop programs that support student parents in completing postsecondary programs. The Ascend PSP Parent Advisorswhose first-hand experience informs Ascend’s Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative, selected these innovative solutions.  

“We are planting our seeds on a new horizon, and we are excited to see what grows from it,” said Jesus Benitez, Parent Advisor and recent graduate of the City University of New York. “It’s amazing to read about projects that acknowledge ideas like a family resource center as a necessity and learning that schools want to duplicate the student parent advisors, just like Ascend, to improve their services to better support student parents. I’m eager to see what comes from the work we are doing and what the future has in store for student parents and their families.” 

“As the child of a student parent, the stories I’ve heard from the Ascend Parent Advisors resonate deeply with me,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “The day-to-day challenges of college-goers of every age have only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Parent Powered Solutions Fund both honors the sacrifices student parents make and supports the solutions to the distinct challenges they face.”

The Aspen Parent Powered Solutions Fund awardees are: 

  • BeyondHome (CO) will use the fund to provide members of its Women with a Cause Scholar Program and student parents in its Self-Sufficiency Program with mental health and financial counseling, life skills, parent coaching, youth and children programming, and direct financial assistance.  
  • Briya Public Charter School’s (Briya) (DC) funding will support parents in its workforce programs to earn credentials as a Child Development Associate or a Medical Assistant. After completing their workforce credential, the student parent will enter credit bearing classes at one of Briya’s partner schools, the University of the District of Columbia or Trinity University. Briya will also provide high quality infant and toddler education to the student parents.
  • Community College of Aurora (CCA) (CO) will create an advisory council comprised of students who are parents to lead conversations and policymaking opportunities on campus. The student parents will be paid to gather information and report on parent and family needs, barriers specific to CCA student parents, and solutions to those barriers.  
  • Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) (TN) will hire eight student parents as advisors to participate in community meetings relevant to their lived experiences, attend monthly staff agenda meetings to provide feedback on proposed programming, plan trainings, lead quarterly student parent focus groups to assess the needs present in the community, discuss strategies to address these needs, and lead weekly support groups. 
  • Project Self-Sufficiency (PSS) (CA) will use the fund for its Client Services Program for single-parent college students to offer flexible financial support and long-term case management until six months after graduation. Financial support will include emergency rental assistance, textbook assistance, child care assistance, auto repair and other aid as needed. PSS also offers dental reimbursement, professional development opportunities, holiday assistance, and mental health counseling.  
  • Raise the Barr (RTB) (CA/MN) will invest in student parents as expert consultants and incorporate them into all aspects of planning, programming, and decision making. RTB will add two student parents to its advisory board and compensate them for their time. Student parents will also serve on RTB’s scholarship and emergency grant review committees to help create student-centered applications and review submissions. 

We are honored to have been chosen by the [Fund], as it validates and acknowledges our intent to keep student parents at the center of who we are and what we do,” said Lori Barr, co-founder of Raise the Barr. To have the trust of Ascend’s Parent Advisors is one of the highest votes of confidence we have received to date! We look forward to furthering our efforts, together, so student parents everywhere have the opportunity, resources, and support they need to thrive! 

The PSP Initiative, a partnership between Ascend, Imaginable Futures, and the ECMC Foundation that raises awareness about and shares strategies to better support student parents, centers the Parent Advisors to ensure their voices and expertise inform the policy and practice recommendations put forth. Shifting decision-making power to student parents is more important now, during a global pandemic, than ever. Building stronger pathways to completion and providing resources that address the unique needs of student parents is of the utmost importance this school year given the COVID-19 pandemic. Student parents with school-age children are taking on virtual learning together, while those with even younger children require safe, quality, affordable child care. Access to Wi-Fi is imperative to complete classes, while job and food security remain constant concerns. The grantees will set a precedent for two-generation innovations that nonprofits, postsecondary institutions, and workforce development programs can model. 

Vinice Davis, venture partner at Imaginable Futures: “We are overjoyed with the response to the Parent Powered Solutions Fund from both the Parent Advisors and the applicantsWe saw a variety of solutions from applicants that truly put student parents first. The Parent Advisors made poignant observations to narrow down and identify the best programs for their community. We are optimistic that the future of the postsecondary ecosystem will be more family friendly thanks to their choices.”

Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend: “Solutions for student parents must include their perspectives, insights, and lived experience. The Parent Powered Solutions Fund proves what is possible when parent voice is at the center. It’s been a pleasure to watch this cohort take the reins and lead this process. Ascend is confident that the recipients of the Fund will transform the postsecondary field.” 

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 an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit 

Imaginable Futures (IF) is a global philanthropic investment firm that believes learning has the power to unlock human potential and aspires to provide every learner with the opportunity and the tools they need to imagine, and to realize, a brighter future. By taking a systems approach to solving complex education challenges, IF works across public, private and social sectors to bring to life transformational ideas in local, national and global contexts for learners of all ages. With a deep commitment to on-the-ground partnership and co-creation with those we serve, Imaginable Futures is empowering learners, families and communities to be the changemakers of the future. Established in 2020 and managed by a global team, Imaginable Futures has invested $200 million in more than 100 partners across Africa, Latin America and the United States, as well as in India with sister organization, Omidyar Network India. Imaginable Futures is a venture of The Omidyar Group and is founded and funded by Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Follow us at @imaginablefut and learn more at  

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group ( enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. For more information, visit  

# # #  

Photo of Generation Hope Scholar and daughter on the playground. Generation Hope is a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, providing wraparound, two-generation support to young parents in college and their pre-kindergarten little ones, and promoting student parents’ college completion through national advocacy and direct technical assistance to colleges and universities.

Related Posts

In an op-ed written for Early Learning Nation, 2023 Ascend Parent Advisor, Mikah Jorgensen, shares her personal experience and expertise offering 5 ideas and recommendations for postsecondary institutions to make higher education more supportive of parenting students.
Media MentionsOctober 6, 2022
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) announced that 11 new Parent Advisors have joined its Postsecondary Success for Parents initiative (PSP) to help shape Ascend’s expanded agenda to improve higher education policy and practice for student parents.
Press ReleasesSeptember 29, 2022
More than half of the nearly 4 million student parents in the U.S. are students of color, with Black, Native, and Latino students among the most likely to be raising children while in college. In fact, one-third of all Black college students in the U.S. are parents. When higher education is not designed with parents …

A Leadership Imperative: Postsecondary Success for Parents Launches Its Next Phase Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsSeptember 29, 2022
In an op-ed for Philanthropy News Digest, Ascend founder and executive director Anne Mosle highlights the power and potential in listening to and honoring the expertise of parents and caregivers.
Media MentionsAugust 22, 2022
Today, the Aspen Institute announced its 2022 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows, 22 leaders from across the United States who are primed to transform systems so that our youngest children and families can thrive.
Ascend FellowshipAugust 8, 2022
In an article for Lumina Foundation's summer 2022 Focus magazine, Ascend's David Croom offers insight into the power of student parents' commitment to success for themselves and their families.
Media MentionsAugust 3, 2022
In an op-ed for, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez shares insights and reflections on how higher ed can make a difference for families by supporting student parents.
Media MentionsJuly 29, 2022
RFP for HBCUs and TCUs to apply for funding and technical assistance to support student parent success on their campuses One in five college students – close to 4 million – is pursuing higher education while parenting. More than half are students of color, with Black and Native students more likely to be balancing school …

Ascend’s New Family Futures Fund Focuses on Black and Native Student Parent Success Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJuly 20, 2022
In an Inside Higher Ed article, Ascend's Anne Mosle shares insights into the value of education for family economic mobility, financial security and ultimately well-being.
Media MentionsMay 4, 2022
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.
Media MentionsApril 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 »

Media MentionsFebruary 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
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