2023 Aspen Forum on Children and Families

A free, biennial public convening delving into how leaders can take action to advance family prosperity and move the needle for families with low incomes.

Agenda & Sessions

Over the course of two days, our discussions focused on bold, equitable, and pragmatic strategies for building prosperity and well-being for all families. Sessions include insights from the latest two-generation (2Gen) family data, examples of courageous values-based leadership during volatile times, a mother-son poetry conversation, as well as insights about securing mental health supports for children and the adults in their lives. Click on session titles below to watch recordings and explore more ideas and resources from speakers.

Day 1

Tuesday, April 11

1:00 pm  - 1:40 pm ET

How can we embrace and accelerate a new agenda for families? Let us seize this moment to create bold change centering racial, gender, and economic justice, and advance approaches to intergenerational prosperity and well-being that leaves no one out. Aspen Institute leadership – a Board Trustee, an Ascend Fellow, and Ascend’s founder and executive director – will share their vision for a transformational, inclusive path forward.

1:40 pm  - 3:00 pm ET

Families tell us they want to prosper and ask us to meet them where they dream. The data tells us that when it comes to reducing poverty there are no silver bullets, but there are silver linings. This two-part session will explore recommendations and experiences from Ascend Parent Advisors, followed by a conversation with research and narrative leaders: what action can we take when we listen to, learn from, and lead with families?

3:20 pm  - 4:00 pm ET

FrameWorks Institute CEO Nat Kendall-Taylor, PhD, will share revealing insights on public attitudes from The Culture Change Project – an ongoing investigation designed to uncover whether and how social and political turmoil is leading to shifts in the ways that Americans think about and make sense of the world. Moreover, Nat will share practical applications on how this research can be used to advance effective policy and systems change for family well-being. This session does not include Q&A.

3:50 pm  - 4:00 pm ET

The Ascend Network is now nearly 500 organizations deep, with partners focused on a range of 2Gen approaches, from dyadic mental health treatment to integrated early childhood and community college supports. We’ll hear from some leading Partners on how 2Gen approaches guide their vision for the future.

4:00 pm  - 5:00 pm ET

More people than ever before are aware and willing to share their experiences when it comes to mental health and well-being. At the same time, powerful innovations are emerging around the country to build on new insights from brain science and strengthen mental health care at every age and stage of life. How can we leverage this moment of awareness and innovation to ensure all families access the mental health supports they need?

Day 2

Wednesday, April 12

8:45 am  - 9:00 am ET

On Day 1 we focused on what it takes to move the needle for families with low incomes. Join us for a robust Day 2, in which we will focus on bold, equitable, and pragmatic strategies for building prosperity and well-being for all families. Now is the time to think big.

9:00 am  - 10:00 am ET

More than 1 in 5 college students is a student parent – exceptional individuals juggling caregiving, studying, working, and more. In this session, join leaders reimagining postsecondary systems to be more accessible to and inclusive of student parents and their families.

10:00 am  - 11:00 am ET

Over the course of a year, leaders from across the country came together for the Aspen Two-Generation Prenatal to Three Learning and Action Community (2GP3 LAC). Today, you will hear key findings from their work and explore lessons for truly centering prevention and upstream solutions in systems of care for families.

11:00 am  - 11:20 am ET

Connect with fellow virtual attendees to get a snapshot on Postsecondary Success of Parents from David Croom followed by light Q&A.

11:20 am  - 12:15 pm ET

A decade into 2Gen 2.0, what have we learned about family outcomes, and what’s the research roadmap for organizations moving forward? This session will provide a sweeping analysis of what we’ve accomplished and what the agenda looks like for 2Gen impact and assessment.

12:15 pm  - 12:45 pm ET

Connect with fellow virtual attendees for a live discussion about 2Gen Framing moderated by Shilpi Niyogi in conversation with Julie Sweetland, Senior Advisor, FrameWorks Institute. The discussion will be followed by light Q&A.


1:15 pm  - 1:35 am ET

Lift up your heads and lower your shoulders: these Ascend Fellows will provide a dose of inspiration and action as they share their big ideas for intergenerational opportunity in 2023 and beyond.

1:35 pm  - 1:50 pm ET

Since 2012, Ascend has nurtured 2Gen solutions in Aspen’s own neighborhood, growing a Network of leaders and partners in Colorado and the District of Columbia with a focus on capacity-building, collaboration, and community impact. Here, leaders from Aspen’s backyard tell the story of how and why place matters.

1:50 pm  - 2:45 pm ET

A new generation of leaders are innovating with the North Star of intergenerational prosperity and well-being. Leaders inside state agencies, informed by family voice and guided by ensuring equity, are joining with trusted community partners and parents to channel the unprecedented $4B flow of new resources and federal funding to co-design transformational two generation strategies with and for families. This session will feature these leaders and how they are using all the resources before them to set a new roadmap for family economic security.

2:45 pm  - 3:00 pm ET

Airea Matthews is the 2022-23 Philadelphia Poet Laureate – but she’s not the first poet laureate in her household. Her son Wes Matthews was the 2018-19 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate, and together Airea and Wes will close out with a tribute to the power of 2Gen voices and the creativity that fuels our work.


This convening brings together leading policymakers, philanthropists, practitioners, researchers, direct service providers, and advocates to offer what different sectors can do to further whole-family well-being at a time when we are witnessing new and unprecedented energy and enthusiasm to create a more equitable future.


Katie Albright

Senior Advisor

Safe & Sound

Deana Around Him

Research Scholar

Child Trends

Leah Austin

President & CEO

National Black Child Development Institute

Rumeli Banik

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Nelson Barranco

Parent Advisor, New Mexico

Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Randall Baylor

Program Lead for Community Engagement

Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN)

Matthew Biel

Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) at Georgetown University

Lisa Bohmer

Director, Global Early Childhood Development

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


Reimagining Child Welfare: A Networked Approach to Family Well-Being


Tapping the Talent of Student Parents: A Playbook for Postsecondary Leaders


Innovations Abound: Tools and Resources from the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community


Toward a More Equitable Tomorrow: A Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Leadership


Data on Families with Low Incomes Across America Can Inform Two-Generation Approaches


State of the Field: Two-Generation Approaches to Family Well-Being


Testimony from Our Community

I really appreciate the work and thought that went into this Forum. I left feeling challenged to think about things differently and motivated to share more about what we know works. I also left inspired by the hard work of so many great individuals and organizations.

Thank you for the opportunity to attend! It was the most valuable conference I’ve had the privilege of attending in my career.

The convening is inspiring and loaded with excellent presentations and moderated discussions of issues of critical interest to families. When I’m at an Ascend event, I feel I am with ‘my people’.