Achieving the Dream Announces Summit Focused on Supporting Student Parents in Community College

New Community College Women Succeed Advisory Group Aims to Increase Success for Women and Student Parents

SILVER SPRING, MD — Today Achieving the Dream (ATD) announced the upcoming Student Parent Success Summit, a virtual event on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, that will convene higher education professionals and community-based organizations to share strategies for better serving student parents at two- and four-year colleges. Speakers will share examples of the practical application of campus-based policy, practice, and programs to support equitable outcomes for student parents.

“The Student Parent Success Summit is at the heart of what we do at Achieving the Dream,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president & CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Nearly four million student parents attend community college every year. There is enormous potential in this demographic, and the Summit will bring leaders together from across the country to share ideas, identify gaps, and promote strategies that will generate educational equity for student parents in community colleges.”

The Student Parent Success Summit builds on ATD’s Community College Women Succeed (CCWS) initiative that seeks to identify and promote effective strategies to create, expand, and evaluate work to support women students and student parents and their success in community college and the workforce. Stark equity gaps among students are revealed when data are disaggregated by race, gender, age, and parenting status.

“Community colleges offer indispensable opportunities to many of America’s under-served learners, so it is critical that parents attending community college have equal access to a postgraduate education and equal support for success,” said Dr. Martha Kanter, CEO of College Promise. “The Student Parent Success Summit will bring together speaker and experts who can all provide expertise and institutional resources that will help us promote student parents on a national scale.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic is threatening to disrupt an entire generation of low-income learners — many of them young parents. Making sure student parents have the tools they need to be successful in community college has never been more important,” said Nicole Lynn Lewis, CEO of Generation Hope, and a former student parent student herself. “I look forward to joining my colleagues as we share critical ideas and resources that will help schools and organizations improve racial and economic equity by supporting their student parents.”

The Student Parent Success Summit will feature keynote speaker David Croom, assistant director for postsecondary achievement and innovation of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Croom’s keynote will focus on equity through the lens of student parents with an emphasis on the intersection of race, gender, and socioeconomics and why investing in the success of students who are parents is one of the most effective strategies for accelerating families’ economic and social mobility. Then, three students parenting through the pandemic will share their personal experiences and expertise around what helps student parents stay on track to meet their goals.

ATD also announced the formation of the Community College Women Succeed Advisory Group, which will expand on ATD’s existing work to to promote access and equity for women and student parents in community colleges. The Advisory Group is made up of leaders from across the country who are on the forefront of developing innovative supports, policies, and programs; researching effective practices; and creating and disseminating resources to increase success for women students and student parents in community college. This work is designed to increase racial and economic equity for community college students and their families at school and within their communities.

Advisory Group members include:

  • Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Allison Beer, senior policy analyst, Association of Community College Trustees
  • Marcella Bombardieri, associate director of postsecondary education, Center for American Progress
  • Dr. Rebecca Butler, executive vice president, Columbus State Community College
  • Francesca I. Carpenter, director, equity initiatives, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Rosa Maria Castaneda, Senior Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • David Croom, assistant director for postsecondary achievement and innovation of Ascend at the Aspen Institute
  • Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, study director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
  • Shauna Davis, executive director of programs, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Vinice Davis, venture partner, Imaginable Futures
  • Rachel Fishman, deputy director for research, New America
  • Sandy Goodman, director, NCTN, World Education
  • Meredith Archer Hatch, senior associate director, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Dr. Martha Kanter, CEO, College Promise
  • Ivy Love, policy analyst, New America
  • Nicole Lynn Lewis, CEO, Generation Hope
  • Dr. Monica Parrish Trent, vice president, network engagement, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
  • Jennifer Zeisler, senior program director, career readiness, ECMC Foundation

The CCWS Advisory Group Charter outlines the group’s goals and responsibilities, establishing concrete actions and strategies for continuing to support student success and educational equity in community colleges.

To promote promising practices and innovative programs to support women students and student parents’ success within community colleges, the Advisory Group will:

  • Advise on evidence-based best practices to support women students and student parents;
  • Create and disseminate resources to community colleges;
  • Take action to support women students and student parents as well as innovative programs that are currently in practice;
  • Identify gaps in supports, research, and qualitative and quantitative data for women students and student parents;
  • Amplify advocacy efforts from group members’ organizations and external entities for increased supports.

The Student Parent Success Summit, and the CCWS Advisory Group Charter, build on recent work from ATD to specifically address the needs of community college students who are parents.

In recent years, Community College Women Succeed has:

  • Hosted regional student focus groups and developed student testimonial videos to elevate the student voice nationally;
  • Engaged thought leaders throughout the country, including Achieving the Dream Network Colleges, to learn about gaps and promising practices;
  • Partnered with stakeholders to create and widely share resources and tools (including social media campaigns, DREAM sessions, webinars, Equity in Design for Holistic Student Supports Increasing Success for Student Mothers at Community Colleges);
  • Served as a partner in the Rise Prize; and
  • Partnered with the National College Success for Single Mothers Project, in which seven Achieving the Dream Colleges have been selected to participate.


Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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