Investing in the postsecondary success of students who are parents is one of the most effective strategies for accelerating their economic and social mobility, addressing longstanding inequalities, and building state and local economies. Public sector agencies and their partners can build supportive pathways for student parents toward meaningful degrees and credentials that lead to careers with better pay and benefits 

The request for proposal (RFP) for the Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnership Grants was designed by the Ascend PSP National Advisors in collaboration with Imaginable Futures and the ECMC Foundationto guide cities, counties, and states to spur economic mobility and increase well-being by investing in the potential of student parentsAscend at the Aspen Institute will award 18-month grants of up to $150K to three public sector entities to work in partnership with stakeholders – such as peer agencies, community-based organizations, philanthropy, and employers – to ensure that policies, systems, and services lead to credentials and careers that provide living wages, access to opportunities for advancement, and continued learning in sectors with high growth and demand for parents. Selected grantees will also receive financial resources and technical assistance to accelerate current partnership efforts in their jurisdictions by increasing access to wraparound supports such as early childhood education, housing, health care, and more.  

The National Advisors are a group of 23 leaders from higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations who provide guidance on strategies and recommendations to support student parents based on their hands-on work experiencesThey inform theAspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiativealong with the Parent Advisors and the Postsecondary Leadership Circle for Parents 

“It has been incredible to partner with others doing amazing work with student parents to construct an RFP that is responsive to the impacts of multilayered crises  health, economic, and racial injustice – on the educational journey of parents and their families,” says Michelle Rhone-Collins, chief executive officer of LIFT and an Ascend National Advisor. “I am full of hope that this will drive innovation through public and private partnership and create change that can remove structural barriers to success.”

The National Advisors and Ascend will select the three grantees, while the Parent Advisors will provide feedback to ensure parent voice is braided into the policies and programsOrganizations will be selected in January 2021.  

Being a student parent is incredibly difficult but one of the most difficult parts is feeling unheard  like nobody cares,” says Michaela Martin, second year law student at the University of LaVerne and an Ascend Parent Advisor. “Participating in the process of advocating for policy change gives me something to fight for and a way to be heard.” 

The powerpoint presentation from the informational webinar can be found here.

For more details on student parents, please refer to the following Ascend publications:

Important upcoming dates for submitting your organization’s proposal:  

  • Optional virtual office hours for interested applicants:
    • Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 3 pm ET
    • Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 3 pm ET; View recording here
  • Deadline for proposals: Friday, December 11, 2020
  • Notice of grantee selection decision to applicants: Friday, February 15, 2021
  • Public announcement (revised as of Feb. 5): Tuesday, March 9, 2021
  • Grant period (revised as of Feb. 5): March 15, 2021 through September 15, 2022

The RFP can be found here. The budget template is here. Find a list of frequently asked questions here. NOTE: Please include the budget narrative on the same page as the budget template. 

All proposals will be submitted through this form by 11:59 pm ET on Friday, December 11, 2020. Late proposals cannot be accepted.

Please direct any questions related to submission to David Croom, assistant director for postsecondary innovation and achievement, or Alexis Williams, communications associate, at  

Photo of Generation Hope Scholar and daughter on the playground. Generation Hope is a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, providing wraparound, two-generation support to young parents in college and their pre-kindergarten little ones, and promoting student parents’ college completion through national advocacy and direct technical assistance to colleges and universities.