Young Mom Summit: Bridging the Gap between Young Moms And Their Community

June 18, 2014 | Convenings

I sat in my advisor’s office, holding my breath as she prepared to give me feedback on the latest version of my master’s thesis. But before she could launch into her suggestions on what to change and what to keep, she had something else to share with me.

“I spoke with the local department of job and family services,” she said, “and they’re looking to do some proactive programming with our student-parents. It seems they have noticed an increase of child abuse reports during midterms and finals week. Perhaps this is something you could tackle with them?”

My thesis topic—the types of emotional and social support student-parents need as they pursue their college degrees—certainly seemed to fit. Often, student-parents are stressed on a daily basis as they juggle their roles as loving parent and model student. When the pressure in one role increases, the other role tends to get the short stick. During midterms and finals, when stress levels hit the roof, it is not hard to imagine a young parent buckling under the pressure.

That is when I conceived of Young Mom Summit, a one-day conference for young mothers, held March 29, 2014. It was designed to connect them with community resources and give them space to learn from other young mothers who have walked in their shoes. It was the first offline event I have hosted since I founded TheYoungMommyLife.com, an online support network for young mothers under 25, in 2008. A young mother (and former student-parent) myself, I intimately knew the struggles of young parenthood and wanted to put my knowledge and skills to use to address the issues.

The planning was deliberate. Each of the sessions was led by a former young mother whom I felt would best be equipped to address the needs of attendees. The summit featured three 45-minute workshops on stress management, financial literacy, and career guidance, followed by an hour-long luncheon discussion on persistence while progressing through school. Planned Parenthood and the local department of jobs and family services were both on hand to sit and talk with attendees about their services.

The first event, based in Northeast Ohio at Kent State University, drew 50 participants from three states. The summit garnered in-kind support from Fortune 500 companies and local institutions including Cedar Point, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The first person through the door was a 16-year-old pregnant with triplets. She lived about 45 minutes away and the fact that she made it to an event on a Saturday morning (in spite of the fact that she doesn’t yet have her driver’s license) let me know that there is a great need for this type of programming.

Several attendees have followed up with me and told me they have put the tips they learned to good use, particularly from the stress management workshop. Our presenter suggested building a “Destress Toolbox.” Our workshop on finances prompted many to revamp their budgets. The career workshop gave one attendee the push she needed to open her own crafting business. But perhaps the outcome I’m most excited about is that the 16-year-old with the triplets connected with one of the presenters who is the director of a local teen parenting group. She has now been attending their monthly club workshops.

My overall goal for the Young Mom Summit is for it to become a national event. With enough interest, we would also be able to provide a “Kids Summit,” where the children of attendees would have fun, hands-on activities while their moms are next door – making it truly two-generational.

I also look forward to collaborating with publishers to provide books for participants’ children, forming local support groups for the women to “check in” between events, and a yearly scholarship for young women to continue their education. Now I’m gathering valuable feedback from attendees of the first summit and other young mothers nationwide to design an event in2015 that truly speaks to their needs. It will be a “for us, by us” gathering where young mothers will feel comfortable and embraced in their journey toward educational success and economic security. 

Related Posts

I started off the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival at Aspen Words Book Ball, a passion project of Isa Catto and Daniel Shaw.
Ascend FellowshipJune 25, 2022
This year, the Aspen Idea Festival returns to in-person programming at our campus in the Rocky Mountains June 25 - July 1, 2022.
Ascend FellowshipJune 15, 2022
On Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community hosted a panel discussion about the recently proposed federal legislation on paid leave. This webinar presented how and why this proposed legislation matters and shared opportunities to advance paid leave locally and nationally. Watch Now https://vimeo.com/557745729 Presenters and Panelists Vicki Shabo …

Webinar: Accelerating Paid Leave for Families Read More »

June 3, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

PelotonU: Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voice Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
Back to School Event
Governors, mayors, and families are on the front lines of communities coping with changes in the pandemic world. As the school year begins, the Aspen Institute turns to representatives of these three groups to ask: How can we support students and families in this unprecedented school year? On August 26, Ascend and the Aspen Education …

Virtual Discussion: How Communities and Political Leaders Can Support Schools This Year Read More »

BlogAugust 21, 2020
Physical and mental health and well-being are core components of the two-generation approach that builds family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and the adults in their lives to move whole families toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. Childhood trauma, for instance, has lasting health and social consequences. Similarly, economic …

Transforming Child and Family Mental Health in Washington, DC Read More »

BlogJuly 22, 2020
Aspen
States and communities are where policy translates into real life outcomes. For nearly a decade, state and local entities have leveraged various federal programs and funding streams to integrate systems and services through a 2Gen approach. This powerful momentum is bipartisan, practical, scalable and most importantly, centered around families – their needs, their experiences, and their voices.   The new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Poverty Reduction: …

Virtual Briefing: Milestone Federal Report Drives 2Gen Momentum Read More »

BlogJuly 9, 2020
The Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative at Ascend at the Aspen Institute hosted a two-day convening to mark entering its second phase. More than 50 researchers, philanthropists, higher education administrators, policymakers, and student parents gathered at the Aspen Institute office in Washington, D.C. for a strategy session titled, “Postsecondary Completion: What Works for …

Postsecondary Completion: What Works for Parents Read More »

BlogFebruary 12, 2020
Families must be at the center of any and all work to address intergenerational poverty. That’s why our Aspen ThinkXChange 2019, which focused on using a two-generation (2Gen) approach to advance family prosperity, began the way that it did – with more than 240 leaders (parents, practitioners, and policymakers) listening and learning from families. At …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: 240 Leaders Convene to Advance Family Prosperity Read More »

BlogOctober 31, 2019
Two-generation (2Gen) convenings have the potential to create change for whole systems and the lives of the families they serve. This planning guide is the first step. Having planned and supported more than 100 2Gen convenings, Ascend has cultivated a depth of knowledge for the practical elements and nuanced factors that result in successful convenings. …

New Toolkit Offers Tips on Designing a 2Gen Convening Read More »

BlogOctober 25, 2019
It was another great day of provocative conversation at ThinkXChange. Here are three of our favorite insights from the breakout group on cash transfers: “Poverty is the absence of cash flow. If you want to solve poverty, give people money. That’s it. We can solve poverty if we want to.” — Anthony Barrows, managing director …

“We can solve poverty if we want to.” Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
Speakers onstage at 2019 Aspen ThinkXChange
The racial wealth gap is well-documented and undisputedly real. The median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median African-American family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. And things are getting worse, not better: The proportion of black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to …

Real solutions for closing the very real racial wealth gap Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
With family voices at the center, Ascend brought together leaders from across key issues and sectors at the Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: Advancing Family Prosperity on October 15-18 in Aspen, Colorado, to share bold ideas, generate new strategies, and identify critical partnerships to move families toward opportunity in the decade ahead. The convening highlighted inherent strengths of families with …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019 Round-up: Materials and Videos Read More »

BlogSeptember 25, 2019
At the second Aspen Forum on Children and Families last month we brought together national leaders – policymakers, practitioners, researchers, philanthropists and parents – to surface big ideas for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time. Centering parents’ and caregivers’ perspectives is vital to Ascend and our work with …

Meeting Parents Where They Dream: Critical Voices and Lived Experiences Read More »

BlogMarch 21, 2019
As state and federal lawmakers prepare for the year ahead, more than 350 practice and community leaders, policymakers, researchers, and philanthropists - including Ascend Fellows, Family Prosperity Innovators, and Ascend Network Partners - joined us at the 2019 Aspen Forum on Children and Families to harness this momentum for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time.
BlogMarch 13, 2019