We believe supporting families holistically is one of the most important and often overlooked areas of opportunity to change the cycle of generational inequity in the United States. We do this through a two-generation approach that supports equitable early learning experiences for our littlest learners and purposeful and prosperous education-to-career pathways for student parents.
The United States has an unaddressed history of Indigenous land theft and slavery coupled with decades of racist policymaking. This continues to play a significant role in disparities by race across all systems, including education. The education system, as designed, reproduces generational inequity and poverty, resulting in the US having one of the lowest intergenerational mobility scores of any high-income nation. This means that children in the US are less likely to earn a higher wage and achieve a more advanced education level than their parents when compared to children of other high-income nations.
When it comes to the important years in a child's development, only 51% of American children ages three to five are on track to be ready for kindergarten. Additionally, there are major gaps in research on children and families who reside in under-resourced communities, and this translates into major gaps in policies, systems and interventions.
These inequities in early childhood development are further intensified by intergenerational factors. There are nearly twenty million parents who are enrolled or have partially completed a college degree or non-degree credential to further their education and create a pathway for economic prosperity and well-being for their families. One in three Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Indigenous college students are parents, yet they face inequitable barriers in education systems that weren’t designed for them. A staggering 53% of student parents leave college without obtaining a degree.
Imagine a world where all families thrive. Where all children have access to environments and relationships that support their healthy development from the start, and parents enrolled in postsecondary education have the support they need to pursue their educational and career dreams. Where research and policies at federal, state and local levels support our nation’s youngest children to produce more equitable outcomes. Where student parents are acknowledged, invested in and part of a system responsive to their needs. This is the future we imagine and are working toward with our partners.
The goal in our early childhood work is to support healthy development for more learners in the first five years of life. We do this through the following:
Ensuring that early childhood researchers are as diverse as the children and the workforce they seek to assess is critical to producing more inclusive research and more equitable outcomes. We support research that can help shift both the ecosystem and research landscape through a body of evidence and evaluation tools that examine early learning experiences through a multicultural and asset-based lens.
The US early childhood “system” is a patchwork of programs that has resulted in significant disparities across race and income. By supporting community-driven approaches for child care and grassroots movements, we hope to assist those fighting for transformative public investment.
We support targeted, equity-centered innovation for our littlest learners and their families. Our work emphasizes family-centered design that is needed to build systems that work for all children and families.
Our goal is to improve the postsecondary success of student parents so that the whole family can thrive. Postsecondary success is credential attainment—including industry-recognized certificates and degrees—as well as economic mobility and improved well-being. We do this through the following:
Student parents often face a postsecondary system that makes assumptions around who belongs and who doesn’t. The lack of research on what works for student parents and how supporting them creates positive generational outcomes contributes to major gaps in policies and systems. We support solutions that build the evidence and knowledge base to advance the social, political and institutional changes that directly address the barriers student parents face.
While courageous and uniquely motivated, student parents are often overlooked by the postsecondary system, leading to real implications for their success. One of the reasons for this is because the postsecondary system doesn't collect data on student parents from enrollment through completion, which is something we aim to change as a systemic practice. We focus on opportunities to amplify student parent voices, including building awareness, momentum and collaboration among postsecondary institutions and programs, policymakers and employers.
The postsecondary education system is not designed for today’s students, including those nearly twenty million students who are raising children (only four million of them are currently enrolled in a college or university). More attention and innovation is needed. We invest in innovative, scalable solutions that reach student parents around our holistic 6Cs framework. This includes innovations around: affordable and equitable child care, accessible communities of support, decreased completion time, increased access to convenient and flexible solutions, addressing rising costs of postsecondary education, and expanding credentials connected to careers
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