The Aspen ThinkXChange, a signature convening of Ascend at The Aspen Institute, brought together 150 dynamic leaders from cutting-edge community-based programs, policy programs, academia, philanthropies, businesses, and the media to discuss and debate opportunities, challenges, and solutions for moving parents, especially women, and their children beyond poverty toward educational success and economic security.

The Aspen Institute has a long history of bringing together values-based leaders to discuss big ideas — from climate change to Middle East peace — that move our country and communities forward.  We believe that growing inequality in the U.S. is a fundamental challenge to our democracy.  However, periods of deep crisis can spur powerful innovation.  We are on the cusp of new solutions, and the time is ripe to explore and elevate breakthrough ideas and proven strategies for building economic mobility for vulnerable families.

Bold Ideas Moving Toward Action: The theme of the 2012 ThinkXChange was the power and potential of two-generation approaches, which focus on creating opportunities for and addressing the needs of both vulnerable parents and children together.  The Aspen ThinkXChange included panel discussions, interactive design labs, and “big tent” plenary sessions.  Key content included the voices and narratives of low-income families; piloting, scaling, and replicating promising models; federal and state policy opportunities; early childhood education; postsecondary education and the integration of economic supports; social capital; and metrics that capture improved outcomes for parents and children, return on investment, and/or benefit-cost analysis.


Participants and Partners: With a strong focus on new ways of doing business, the Aspen ThinkXChange is a powerful platform for innovators — both established and emerging — from across sectors to present breakthrough ideas, share case studies, understand promising practices and policies, and identify proven strategies to move families toward educational success and economic security.  The Aspen Institute 2012 Ascend Fellows played a leading role in session design and facilitation. Ascend is collaborating with strategic partners to move the conversations from the Aspen ThinkXChange to a wider audience.