All families deserve to reach their full potential but many face challenges and inequities that prevent their growth. Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community tackles big, complicated problems in order to address societal gaps in responsibility so that we can cultivate a stronger, collective national mindset for improving the lives of families and communities. 

No policies for families can achieve meaningful outcomes without the experiences, expertise, and decision-making power of families most intimately affected and involved with these systems. Family Prosperity is designed to address inefficiencies and barriers created by current policies and practices by power-sharing with parents and caregivers to bring fresh thinking that can dismantle deep-rooted, discriminatory systems. 

Equity is core to all of our work, and Family Prosperity is committed to interrogating racial, gender and other systemic inequities alongside the people who live with them every day. By joining forces with families, employers, and policy leaders, we reimagine systems and structures to clear the path to prosperity for families. 

Community Produced Products and Resources

To develop true innovations that provide tangible results for families, Family Prosperity’s partners focus on the below set of issue areas, which are some of the biggest threats to family prosperity.  We aim to offer permanents solutions for families by creating the below compendium of policy products and recommendations for policy makers, practitioners, and employers to implement and share. 

Child Care

Before the pandemic, family child care or home-based child care was in sharp decline: in just three years between 2014–2017, 22% of regulated family child care programs closed or left the regulated child care system. Now, nearly one half of the child-care supply in this country – some 4.5 million slots – could close permanently due to COVID-19.  Government, businesses and communities have a shared role in providing child care access to families.

Principles to Support Family Child Care in Federal Legislation

All Our Kin

July 2021

All Our Kin released six principles that should be included in any federal child care legislation to sustain family child care providers, rebuild the workforce, and position young children to succeed in the long term.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Only 21% of workers in the U.S. have access to paid leave through their employer, and individuals of colors are even less likely to have access, which exacerbates racial disparities and leads to devastating health and financial outcomes.

Support for paid family and medical leave is growing and has increased in urgency, putting pressure on policymakers and business leaders to prioritize this as a benefit. However, a familiar conflict has carried through into the COVID-19 era: the question of how to fund programs, and who should carry the responsibility for these policies and programs. 

70 Innovative Companies that are Leading on Leave

National Partnership for Women and Families

July 2021

National Partnership for Women & Families published a report that recognizes business that offer a range of paid family and medical leave programs.

Implementation Lessons From the Field

Family Values @ Work

December 2020

Family Values @ Work developed this tool to compile best practices to provide employers and trusted messengers with the outreach and education needed for implementation of paid leave programs.

Health & Well-Being

Poverty is associated with  lifelong poor health, and financial instability, such as a lack of emergency savings and a dependence on gig work, affects half of Americans and is associated with poor health outcomes.

New England Journal of Medicine: Medical–Financial Partnerships — Beyond Traditional Boundaries

Streetcred (Lucy E. Marcil, M.D.)

July 2021

Dr. Lucy Marcil, Executive Director of Streetcred, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine explaining how clinicians can promote individual and community health by empowering their patients’ financial well-being.


Ascend Publications and Tools

Phase II of Family Prosperity builds on previous lessons learned from Phase I to uncover overlooked pathways, implement new innovations, and continue to explore – and put to work – fresh thinking that dismantles deep-rooted discriminatory systems.

Family Prosperity Innovation Community Index

Ascend at the Aspen Institute Family Prosperity Innovation Community

October 2019

This is a collection of resources created by Phase I of the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community partners with a wide range of research and resources to advance learning and action around what it takes to move families, especially those with low incomes, toward economic mobility.