Ascend at the Aspen Institute Announces Two New Efforts to Advance Two-Generation Policy Discussions

November 7, 2013

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sarah Haight
Ascend at the Aspen Institute Program Manager
The Aspen Institute
202-736-2928 |

Ascend at the Aspen Institute Announces Two New Efforts to Advance Two-Generation Policy Discussions
New Focus Group Findings and Media Partnership with Huffington Post Fuel Momentum for Two-Generation Approaches 

Washington, DC, November 7, 2013 Ascend at the Aspen Institute released powerful findings on low-income mothers’ and teens’ perspectives on student debt, jobs, social networks, and economic security today.  These findings, Voices for Two-Generation Success: Seeking Stable Futures, are based on ten focus groups with low and moderate income mothers, and teen boys and girls. Ascend at the Aspen Institute, the national hub advancing two-generation programs and policies that address the needs of children and their parents together, commissioned the bipartisan team of Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting to conduct the research this summer in Denver, Chicago, and Richmond. 

“When you listen to moms and teens, you hear a fierce resilience but growing anxiety as they seek stability, independence, and a better life,” said Anne Mosle, vice president of the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute.  “They want to succeed in school, in life, and for their families.  These are the voices we have to keep front and center as we talk about passing on economic security from one generation to the next.” 

The focus groups capture the economic trade-offs moms and teens alike consider as they chart their path to a more stable future.  Both view college as an important step in achieving success in life but are aware and anxious about the high costs and debt associated with college.

  • Stability remains the watchword for these mothers in today’s economy.  Teens, too, seek financial stability and express strong economic anxieties though remain optimistic for their futures.
  • Teens know how expensive a college education is, and already fear the debt they could accumulate. They understand how important getting a degree is toward future success, but the expense of college makes them consider alternatives.
  • Mothers indicate that access to childcare is a barrier that, if removed, would free up time and money.  They find the logistics of getting their child to and from child care, as well as its costs, stressful.

A full copy of the focus group findings is here:

Today’s report is the latest installment of Voices For Two-Generation Success, Ascend’s continuing series of bipartisan focus groups listening to the views of diverse parents to weave their voices into the public discussion on policies that impact their lives.

The focus group findings release coincides with a week-long series of blogs by Ascend Fellows with the Huffington Post, the first ever media partnership to focus on two-generation policies.  Throughout the first week of November, Huffington Post will feature posts by Ascend Fellows Reggie Bicha, Henry Wilde, Katie Albright, Dr. Mario Small, and Rev. Vivian Nixon, examining how two-generation approaches can help families achieve economic security. 

These Ascend Fellows are pioneering leaders implementing cutting-edge two-generation approaches in state government, mental health services, research, social justice, and early childhood development.  To read the blogs, visit the Huffington Post:  Below is the full schedule of posts:

  • NOV. 4: Transforming Human Services for the 21st Century

            Fellow: Reggie Bicha, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Human Services; President, American Public Human Services Association 

  • NOV 5: Revolutionizing Head Start for Children and Parents Together

            Fellow: Henry Wilde, Co-Founder, Acelero Learning

  • NOV. 6: A Bold Solution to Preventing Child Abuse

            Fellow: Katie Albright, Executive Director, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center

  • NOV. 7: To Build Social Capital, Patronize Your Childcare Center

            Fellow: Dr. Mario Small, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, University of Chicago

  • NOV. 8: The Potential of Formerly Incarcerated Women – and Their Children

            Fellow: Rev. Vivian Nixon, Executive Director, College and Community Fellowship

For a list of Ascend Fellows and examples of two-generation approaches around the country, please visit

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the hub for breakthrough ideas and proven strategies that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.  For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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