Ascend at the Aspen Institute Names 2023-24 “Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners” Through Student Parent-Led Participatory Grantmaking Process

January 23, 2024

It’s hard to create effective programs and policies without student parent voices in the mix.Ascend Parent Advisor Jessica Pelton on the importance of centering student parent expertise

Contact: Kathy Lugo, Communications Officer
Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, January 23, 2024 – On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced its 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners, six organizations and institutions from across the country who are innovatively advancing postsecondary success for student parents. The Parent-Powered Solutions Fund is the first parent-led fund of its kind and an innovative example of participatory grantmaking – designed, led, and evaluated by Ascend Parent Advisors and funded by Imaginable Futures.

Ascend’s 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners will receive more than a quarter of a million dollars in funding and expert technical assistance to increase student parent success:

  • Hudson County Community College (Jersey City, New Jersey) – $50,000 – Hudson County Community College and the Jersey City Housing Authority will collaborate to create a comprehensive support system for student parents that leads to postsecondary credential attainment, pathways to a degree, and gainful employment.
  • Jardin de los Niños (Las Cruces, New Mexico) – $50,000 – Jardin de los Niños will create the Flourishing Families Parent Mentoring Program (FFPMP) to provide student parents the opportunity to gain skills that will support them both personally and professionally through a strong mentorship experience.
  • Leeward Hui ‘Ohana at Leeward Community College (Pearl City, Hawaii) – $12,500 – Leeward will expand their initiative to have community college professors create class assignments that student parents can complete with their children in their own communities.
  • Long Beach City College (Long Beach, California) – $50,000 – Long Beach City College will hire two student parent advisors to inform the development of new and existing services to better support student parents and increase their sense of community at the institution.
  • Operation Restoration (New Orleans, Louisiana) – $50,000 – Operation Restoration will strengthen its education department which provides postsecondary education and workforce development pathways for women and girls impacted by incarceration.
  • Urban Institute (National/Washington, DC) – $50,000 – Urban Institute will support student parent leaders in developing the structure of the National Skills and Training in Action Research (N STAR) Student Parent Leadership Network.

Nationally, one in five college students is a parent. “Investing in student parent success is transformative, a game-changer for families, communities, and our country,” said Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and founder and executive director of Ascend. “Research shows that parents who complete college degrees double their lifetime income, and a $3k increase in a parent’s income leads to a 17% increase in their children’s future income. We are thrilled to see how our diverse 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners will leverage this partnership to increase intergenerational family prosperity and well-being in their communities.”

“As the son of a single mother who was a student parent, I am excited that the Parent-Powered Solutions Fund presents a significant opportunity to build and transform postsecondary policies, systems, and practices by honoring lived expertise,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “I am inspired by Ascend Parent Advisors’ passion in leading this initiative – a true example of the generational leadership the Aspen Institute works to foster.”

The Parent-Powered Solutions Fund is the first parent-led fund of its kind and a powerful example of participatory grantmaking. The Fund was designed, led, and evaluated by Ascend’s 2023 cohort of Ascend PSP Parent Advisors, all former or current student parents. “At Ascend, we know that engaging student parents’ expertise is critical to co-creating solutions that advance postsecondary completion and build intergenerational family prosperity,” said Marjorie Sims, managing director of Ascend. “We are so grateful to our Ascend Parent Advisors for leading this detailed, demanding, and comprehensive process. We could not have done it without the commitment of our Parent Advisors and our funder, Imaginable Futures, to honor lived experience and center equity to create lasting change.”

The Parent Advisors’ dedication in leading this initiative comes from their lived expertise and a desire to see these innovations at and beyond their own institutions. Engaging in the Parent-Powered Solutions Fund’s participatory grantmaking process has expanded Parent Advisors’ capacity to engage in philanthropic decision-making and enhanced their ability to provide technical assistance to other parents, organizations, and institutions. Their leadership of this fund represents an exciting opportunity to develop a model for the philanthropic sector to replicate and scale, ensuring that more student parents can co-create solutions that increase postsecondary attainment.

“It’s hard to create effective programs and policies without student parent voices in the mix,” said Jessica Pelton, an Ascend Parent Advisor. Emphasizing the importance of centering student parents’ lived expertise in carefully evaluating and selecting the 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners, Ascend Parent Advisor Maria Isabel Ramos Martinez reflected: “Now living in a border town as a student parent in Texas where the majority is low-income, I love that an organization like Jardin de los Niños has been able to make it happen to provide childcare, education, community resources, early childhood education, therapeutic intervention, and comprehensive services to homeless and near homeless children and their families.”

To request photos or interviews from the 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners, Ascend Parent Advisors, or Ascend staff supporting the fund, please contact Kathy Lugo: 

About Ascend: Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a catalyst and convener for diverse leaders working across systems and sectors to build intergenerational family prosperity and well-being by intentionally focusing on children and the adults in their lives together. We believe in the power of co-creation. We are a community of leaders — well-connected, well-prepared and well-positioned — building political will that transforms hearts, minds, policies, and practices.

About the Aspen Institute: The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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