This initiative is guided by Ascend’s comprehensive two-generation (2Gen) approaches that build family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and the adults in their lives together.

Since 2018, the Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative (PSP) has been a key driver in building a student parent movement — an expansive, nationally-coordinated effort to advance the development of innovative solutions that provide greater postsecondary access, affordability, and success for parents. We focus on the more than four million student parents enrolled in postsecondary pathways – a group that should inform and strengthen higher education’s equity agenda.

Undergraduate student parents…

  • Represent one in five college students
  • Are likely to attend community college
  • Are more likely to be students of color than White
  • Are older than nonparents
  • Are likely to have children who are preschool-aged or younger
  • Have nearly twice the student loan debt of students overall
  • Have higher GPAs than students who are not parents

Our Community

To make postsecondary systems more accessible to student parents, Ascend taps into the power of partnership to build a sphere of influential champions that affect positive change for parenting students.  

Parent Advisors

The Ascend Parent Advisors are a group of parents who understand first-hand how to improve policies and programs for student parents. Their lived experiences inform Ascend’s strategies and affect our advocacy around systems change.

PSP Initiative’s Change Strategies

Black and Native Family Futures Fund

Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Black and Native Family Futures Fund is a new capacity-building fund that will provide financial support and expert technical assistance to selected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) campuses that are committed to improving the success of their student parents.

Policy Acceleration Partnerships

The Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnerships is an effort by six public entities representing various cities, counties, and states as strategic partners and field innovators to increase economic mobility and well-being for students who are parents.

Parent-Powered Solutions Fund

The Aspen Parent Powered Solutions Fund is the first student parent-led fund dedicated to advancing the work of organizations and initiatives that support student parents’ postsecondary success.

The inaugural awardees, selected by Ascend Parent Advisors, included six organizations that pursue a host of issues – from creating student parent advisory councils and offering mental health counseling support, to providing emergency financial resources and compensating parents for their expertise.

PSP Initiative’s Publications

Thank you to our philanthropic partners

We sincerely appreciate the generosity and partnership of ECMC Foundation, Imaginable Futures, the Liz Blake Giving Fund, and Lumina Foundation for their ongoing support of and contributions to the Postsecondary Success for Parents initiative.

Contact the Postsecondary Success for Parents Team

To learn more about ways you can support student parent success, please contact our Associate Director of Postsecondary Success for Parents, David Croom, or our Program Manager, Jennifer Pocai, at ascendpsp@aspeninstitute.org.

For press or media inquiries related to Postsecondary Success partners or products, please contact our Communications Officer, Kathy Lugo (katherine.lugo@aspeninstitute.org).

Stories from Postsecondary Success for Parents