Aspen Institute Launches ASCEND, The Family Economic Security Program

March 28, 2011

James Spiegelman
VP/Communications and Public Affairs
The Aspen Institute
Tel. 202-736-3849;


Washington, DC, March 28, 2011 –– The Aspen Institute is pleased to announce the launch of Ascend, the new Family Economic Security Program at the Aspen Institute.  Ascend is a hub for breakthrough ideas and proven strategies that move parents, especially women, and their children beyond poverty.  Ascend will kick off with a dinner celebration on Monday evening, March 28. 140 prominent policymakers, philanthropists, journalists, researchers, field innovators, as well as members of the Obama Administration, will join Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, Executive Vice President Elliot Gerson, and Ascend Executive Director Anne Mosle in celebrating this exciting and innovative new program.  Speakers will include Hilary Pennington, Director of Education, Postsecondary Success, and Special Initiatives, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Sonal Shah, Director of the White House Office of Innovation and Civic Participation; and Wes Moore, author of the critically-acclaimed memoir The Other Wes Moore.

Ascend is being launched with catalytic support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and individual women philanthropists.

Leaders from innovative organizations across the country, including the Tulsa Initiative in Tulsa, OK; Family Independence Initiative in Oakland, CA; and Memphis HOPE in Memphis, TN, will gather to celebrate the launch of Ascend, alongside college presidents from Endicott College, Spelman College, and Miami Dade College.

“The Institute is excited to launch Ascend, a program that will focus on solutions to moving vulnerable families, especially those headed by women, beyond poverty,” said the Institute’s Isaacson. He added: “Under Anne Mosle’s leadership, Ascend has developed philanthropic partnerships that will elevate the program’s strategies far beyond Washington. Anne has a proven track record of collaborating across both the private and public sectors, and the Institute will no doubt benefit from her visionary leadership.”

On Tuesday, March 29, Ascend will host an invitation-only, day-long roundtable—entitled “Two Generations, One Future”— with 30+ leaders focused on increasing economic and educational opportunities for parents and children. This distinguished group of researchers, philanthropists, and field innovators will examine the opportunities and challenges of two-generation approaches to moving vulnerable families beyond poverty.  

“I am thrilled to leverage the powerful platform of the Aspen Institute to bring a fresh perspective to these important issues,” Anne Mosle said.  “Investing in families, especially women, is one of the most effective strategies to build strong communities, particularly in this turbulent economic period.  With its nonpartisan approach and unparalleled reputation for convening both established leaders and rising luminaries, the Institute is an ideal organization from which to address the educational and economic challenges facing both parents and children.”

Anne Mosle brings two decades of experience in philanthropy and economic security to the Institute.  As a vice president and officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she remains an executive-on-loan, Anne was responsible for a $40 million portfolio focused on family economic security and oversaw the launch of the $100M Mission Driven Investing pilot program.  As president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation for seven years, Anne established one of the fastest growing women’s foundations in the country. She has a sophisticated and deep grasp of the challenges facing low-income families in the United States, and brings tremendous energy for, and experience with, lifting up the opportunities and solutions to this dire problem.  

Ascend, the Family Economic Security Program at The Aspen Institute, is a hub for breakthrough ideas and proven strategies that move parents, especially women, and their children beyond poverty.  The program focuses on three key areas – engagement, education, and economics – to build a network of leaders and elevate policies and community solutions that increase families’ economic security and educational achievement.  Ascend takes a “two-generation” approach in its strategy – focusing on both parents and their children.   The program leverages the power of social capital and networks, both on the ground and across sectors—from the private to the public, the local to the national, the familiar to the unexpected—to highlight innovative solutions, connect vulnerable families, and build political will for meaningful change.  Ascend elevates strategies that focus on postsecondary education for parents and quality early learning for children; works to find solutions where postsecondary and early childhood education goals intersect; and generates new ideas and supports proven strategies that advance family stability and promote opportunities and assets.

The Aspen Institute
mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.

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