Postsecondary Success for Parents

The Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) initiative raises awareness of and shares recommendations to better support the one in five students enrolled in post secondary pathways who are parents. We work with systems, institutions, and the students who are parents to ensure families have access to the resources necessary to achieve their educational goals, ultimately advancing their family’s economic mobility and well-being.

Postsecondary Success for Parents

Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) initiative raises awareness of and shares recommendations to better support the 1 in 5 higher education students who are parents. We work with systems, schools, and the parenting students themselves to ensure families have access to the resources necessary to achieve their educational goals, ultimately advancing their family’s economic mobility and well-being.

ABOUT THE POSTSECONDARY SUCCESS FOR PARENTS INITIATIVE

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.

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

PSP Initiative’s Impact

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.

National Advisors

The Ascend National Advisors are a group of leaders from higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations that provide transformational support on strategies and recommendations to guide the Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative and its progress for student parents.

 

Postsecondary Leadership Circle for Parents

The Postsecondary Leadership Circle for Parents includes leaders of postsecondary institutions that are spearheading innovative practices and family-friendly strategies on their campuses that advance postsecondary success for student parents across the country.

 

PSP Initiative’s Change Strategies

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.

The partnerships work together with Ascend to achieve a shared goal of promoting postsecondary completion for parents by increasing access to key supports such as public benefits. These partnerships ensure that policies and systems lead parents to credentials and careers that provide living wages, access to opportunities for advancement, and continued learning in sectors with high growth and demand.

The awards are 18-month grants of $150,000 to fuel city, county, and state agencies’ work in partnership with other public entities, parents, and community-based organizations.

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 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. They each received $25,000 over a year-long period to develop programs that support student parents in completing postsecondary programs.

The Ascend Parent Advisors selected these innovative solutions.

Thank you to our philanthropic partners

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

Contact the Postsecondary Success for Parents Team

To learn more about ways you can support student parent success, please contact our Assistant Director for Postsecondary Achievement and Innovation, David Croom or our Program Associate, Lexi Ivers (PostsecondarySuccessforParentsInitiative@aspeninst.org).

For press or media inquiries related to Postsecondary Success partners or products, please contact:
Cecile Nguyen, Senior Communications Associate (cecile.nguyen@aspeninstitute.org).

Stories from Postsecondary Success for Parents

Webinar Recap: Uplifting California’s Student Parents

Webinar Recap: Uplifting California’s Student Parents

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?

With this question in mind, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Tipping Point Community, The Education Trust—West, California Competes, The Michelson 20MM Foundation and Blue Shield of California Foundation, among others wanted to convene a group of early childhood and postsecondary leaders, including student parents themselves, across the state of California to discuss this key population of student parents. 

read more
Epiphany from a Third Generation Student Parent

Epiphany from a Third Generation Student Parent

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.

read more