In Briefing on Capitol Hill, ATD and Key Partners Make Strong Case for Supports for Student Parents

In conjunction with the release of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Higher Education: More Information Could Help Student Parents Access Additional Federal Student Aid, Achieving the Dream (ATD) joined national partners for a Capitol Hill briefing highlighting key findings from the report. Speakers detailed the challenges of completing a college credential while parenting, and shared opportunities to promote student parent success.

In her remarks, Dr. Daria Willis, president of ATD Leader College of Distinction Everett (WA) Community College, referenced her own journey as a student parent. "Student parents face incredible odds to attain degree completion. As a former single parent in college, I understand the challenges students face finding time to study, adequate childcare, and the financial resources needed to make ends meet. I applaud the work of Achieving the Dream and other organizations that are dedicated to leveling the playing field, particularly for women, children, and underrepresented populations.”

For 15 years, Achieving the Dream has worked with community colleges to champion evidence-based strategies to improve student success. ATD President Dr. Karen A. Stout, who joined Dr. Willis, national partners, and ATD staff on Thursday, reiterated Achieving the Dream’s commitment to helping students who are parents through its Community College Women Succeed Initiative. “Through this initiative, ATD Network colleges are identifying barriers that their student parents face in completing credentials or degrees,” shared Dr. Stout. “We’re supporting our colleges in building their capacity to address and eliminate these barriers, ultimately leading to jobs and careers that provide family sustaining wages and economic and social mobility.” 

In February 2019, with support from the Biden Foundation, Achieving the Dream launched Community College Women Succeed, an initiative to identify and promote effective strategies that help adult women students succeed in community college. When women graduate from college, they, their children, and their families have better economic opportunities. Analysis completed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a co-host of Thursday’s event, shows that of the nearly four million student parents attending college, 70 percent are women.

Achieving the Dream’s co-hosts include Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Center for Law and Social Policy, Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and Rise. Support for this event is provided by the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation.

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