This initiative is guided by Ascend‚Äôs 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 (PSP) initiative has been a key driver in building a student parent movement ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚Äď a group that should inform and strengthen higher education‚Äôs equity agenda.

Watch Raising Up presented by Ascend at the Aspen Institute ‚Äď a new docuseries celebrating the stories of student parents and innovative leaders creating generational impact. Learn more at: RaisingUpStudentParents.com.

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. 

1 in 5 Podcast
ascend 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.

Employer Principles
1 in 5: The Student Parent Podcast

Today, more than one in five college students in the US are parents. Our ‘1 in 5’ podcast vividly profiles students who are parents pursuing their education while raising a family and working. Throughout the series, student parents share their journeys raising a family, working, and navigating challenges while pursuing a postsecondary degree. These experiences of students who are parents should not be unfamiliar or unheard, especially on college campuses.

National Network
A Playbook for Postsecondary Leaders

In 2020, Ascend established the Postsecondary Leadership Circle, a group of 20 college and university leaders who advise the Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative. Members of the Leadership Circle are spearheading innovative practices and family-friendly strategies on their campuses that advance postsecondary pathways for student parents across the country. This Playbook showcases Leadership Circle members’ successes and lessons learned in implementing their action plans to support student parents on campus in order to highlight potential paths forward for other institutions.

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PSP Initiative‚Äôs 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

Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 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.

Postsecondary Leadership Circle Activation Fund

Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Postsecondary Leadership Circle Activation Fund is a capacity-building fund that will provide financial support, technical assistance, and a community of practice to accelerate student parent success, with a special focus on single mothers, at four community colleges across the country.

Parent-Powered Solutions Fund

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

The inaugural awardees, selected by Ascend Parent Advisors in 2020, included six organizations. The 2023 iteration of the fund will similarly provide financial resources to organizations and institutions supporting parents in completing postsecondary programs, including workforce development, career and technical education, and baccalaureate degree programs.

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, the Lumina Foundation, and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies 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 Senior 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