The Aspen Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Join Forces to Advance Innovative Strategies for Families’ Health and Economic Prosperity

February 4, 2020

Organizations Invited to Apply to Second Phase of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Learning and Action Community

Contact: Lindsay Broyhill
Ascend at the Aspen Institute
Tel: 202.721.5596

Washington, DC, February 4, 2020 – The Aspen Institute’s Ascend policy program is kicking off an accelerated second phase of work, bringing together family economic security and health experts with a new $7 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community (Family Prosperity) will use its growing learning and action community to find the most effective and innovative solutions to problems that affect working families with low incomes. Ascend is leading the initiative to improve economic and health opportunities for families across the United States.

Family Prosperity, launched in 2017, brings together cross-sector leaders to develop, refine, and amplify bold strategies and solutions that strengthen parents’ and families’ access to employment opportunities, economic security, and health and well-being. Elevating the voices and perspectives of families with low incomes – especially those of color – is a critical and central component of this effort.

Family Prosperity Partners work collectively to address persistent challenges facing our nation’s families, focusing on issues such as chronic and persistent wage gaps by gender and race, lack of access to paid leave, and quality mental and physical health care. Employers are essential in exploring and advancing family-supportive policies; the second phase of work will ramp up efforts to engage employers through an employer incubator convening and research agenda, and will build and leverage relationships between selected Family Prosperity Partners and their local employers.

“When America’s families thrive, our whole country prospers,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “This relationship between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ascend embodies a commitment to equity and making sure the voices and perspectives of families are part of the national conversation about how to promote mobility and opportunity.”

Family Prosperity is a multi-layered community, including local and regional organizations chosen from the Ascend Network that bring proven track records of strong practice, research, and policy expertise; the nation’s most visionary and results-driven policy organizations in the examination and enhancement of families’ economic security; and distinguished experts and thought leaders who serve as Advisors, providing additional perspective, content expertise and partnership to Family Prosperity. A list of Family Prosperity Partners and Advisors from the first phase can be found here.

The second phase introduces a new cohort of innovators: organizations are invited to submit a letter of inquiry(LOI) to participate in the second phase by February 21, 2020.The LOI opportunity is open to the field and will be followed by a Request for Proposals for those who are selected to reach the second round of selection.

The first phase of work produced 25 products by Family Prosperity Partners, which can be found in the Family Prosperity Innovation Community Index. Partners developed a range of resources, including original research and data analysis, webinars, trackers, and toolkits to equip policymakers, practitioners, business leaders, advocates, and parents with cutting-edge information and insights on the state of children and families in the U.S. and innovative strategies to advance their economic security and health and well-being. A forthcoming report will outline a portfolio of innovations that policymakers and practitioners can adopt to improve outcomes for children and families.

“Widespread family prosperity is a dream we can realize if we make it a national priority. It is time to rethink and update how we as a society make it possible for families to not only make ends meet but make a good life,” said Anne Mosle, executive director of Ascend and vice president at the Aspen Institute. “Bringing direct service providers and parents, national policy experts and researchers, Fortune 500 and local employers to the table as equals fundamentally changes the conversation and gives America the brain trust it needs to see rising rates of family prosperity that last for generations. Relationships happen at the pace of trust, and we are poised to deepen and accelerate understanding and action that puts children and family well-being front and center where it belongs.”

Family Prosperity builds on the best of the Aspen Institute’s tradition supporting leaders, building networks, and sharing and sparking innovation. The work of Family Prosperity will be further supported and amplified by the Ascend Network, which launched in 2014 and consists of over 390 organizations and 80 Fellows working in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The Ascend Network represents the leading edge of practice, policy, and research efforts focused on a two-generation (2Gen) approach, serving children and parents together for stronger and better family outcomes. Network Partners serve approximately 5 million people annually and they are savvy practitioners and policymakers.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. We embrace a commitment to racial equity and a gender lens. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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