Community College Women Succeed



Nearly four million student parents attend college every year — most are women. Without adequate support like public benefits, financial aid, or childcare, many mothers never graduate from college. Barriers to retention and completion prevent millions of students from reaching their potential each year.

In February 2019, Achieving the Dream and the Biden Foundation joined forces to launch Community College Women Succeed, an initiative to identify and promote effective strategies that help adult women students succeed in community college. After the Biden Foundation suspended its operations in April 2019, Achieving the Dream continued its work on the initiative.  This work includes engaging with leaders throughout the country to learn about gaps and promising practices, hosting regional focus groups with adult women students and elevating the student voice nationally, reviewing existing research and identifying retention trends, and partnering with a cross-section of stakeholders to create resources.

Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #CCWomenSucceed.


Download the slides and view the March 20, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: Increasing Success for Student Mothers at Community Colleges



Achieving the Dream is Highlighting Powerful Stories of Women’s SUccess in Community College.

Affordability was Antionette’s main priority when it came to attending Northampton Community College. Her pursuit of higher education has increased her economic mobility.


As a mother, Robin relies on the support of other mothers in her program as well as the resources at Northampton Community College offers for parents. She is motivated by the pride her children feel in her ongoing education.



Nicole’s work-study opportunities give her a hands-on learning experience. The flexible and welcoming nature of the Northampton Community College help her succeed.



The networking opportunities Jackie has experienced while attending Northampton Community College offers her hands-on experience that compliments her study. She says the counseling on campus provides students with the support they need through any circumstance.



Pursuing her dream of completing college has been the biggest motivation for Natasha while attending Northampton Community College. Her desire to be her own hero gives her the confidence to battle challenges as they arise.



Pursuing higher education gave Marissa a means to independence. Her desire for a career that she feels passionate about gave her the motivation to transfer to Northampton Community College.



Hear from Adriana, a single parent who found the support she needed to continue her education and care for her child. #CCWomenSucceed




Cinthia, a single parent, shares how her community college education has helped her gain confidence both as a student and as a mother. #CCWomenSucceed



Hear from DeNicia, who returned to college as a mature student. She is graduating alongside her daughter in May 2019. #CCWomenSucceed


A 2018 DREAM Scholar, Jenae Parker embodies the resilience and resourcefulness of a community college student. She’s looking ahead to help other #CCWomenSucceed.



Layla juggles many roles—wife, mother, working student—and community college has helped her maintain balance while she pursues an education. #CCWomenSucceed



Monique knows firsthand how education can benefit entire communities. “When you’re educated, you get to give to other people.” #CCWomenSucceed



Triana, a mother of two, encourages other single moms to take advantage of the community college resources that have helped her succeed. #CCWomenSucceed



Who's Involved




    A growing number of community and technical colleges have made significant commitments to designing and sustaining supportive learning environments that help all students, including student mothers, realize their potential while also integrating the necessary academic, career, and personal supports that make it possible for an increasingly vulnerable student population—many of whom face food and housing insecurity, along with financial and family challenges—to realize their goals. 

    ATD is deeply committed to supporting institutions in developing a holistic student supports approach that embraces the interconnectedness of academic and personal supports to ensure that students receive the supports they need to succeed in college. While there is no one-size fits-all approach to providing these supports, community colleges which have been successful at transforming their institutions to meet the needs of the students they serve have focused on a few common strategies. They have sought to understand the specific needs of their students. They are clear about the problems that they are trying to solve within their unique contexts. And they intentionally design solutions that address those problems head on, rather than implementing incremental, piecemeal solutions and initiatives.

    Download the slides and view the March 20, 2020 webinar



  • This discussion guide profiles the stories of several adult women students charting new paths for themselves and their families. Their experiences both on and off campus will help inform our understanding of the supports and culture that we can develop and enhance on our campuses in order to provide these students the support they need to achieve their educational goals. We invite Achieving the Dream Network colleges to use this guide and accompanying videos to broaden the dialogue on campus about how best to support student parents. You may share the videos featuring critical student voices and add to the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #CCWomenSucceed.

  • Although similar in many ways to other nontraditional students, single mothers bring a unique set of strengths as college students, as well as additional barriers to program completion. Yet, until recently, their particular experiences and  challenges as a distinct student population have not gained the attention or resources required to address their needs effectively. To remedy this, a growing movement has emerged to give voice to student parents and to better understand and address their needs.

    Single mother students have a great deal to offer the colleges that invest in them. This investment is especially worthwhile at a time when enrollments are declining, and colleges and states are striving to create equitable and inclusive educational opportunities for residents as well as meet ambitious college completion and workforce and economic development goals.

    Resource Files

  • Student parents face many challenges, including paying for child care, that can make it difficult for them to complete a degree. The federal government supports student parents through Education's CCAMPIS program, which provides colleges funding for child care services, and federal student aid, which can also help students pay for child care. GAO was asked to provide information on student parents and the federal programs that support these students.

    This report examines, among other objectives, what is known about the characteristics and degree completion of undergraduate students with children; what is known about the CCAMPIS program and how reliable Education's reported outcomes are; and to what extent selected schools publicize the option to increase federal student aid to help pay for child care. GAO analyzed 2009 and 2016 federal student data (the most recent available) and CCAMPIS program performance data, reviewed how the 62 schools that were awarded CCAMPIS grants in 2017 publicized the student aid option to help pay for child care, and reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations and agency documents. GAO interviewed officials from Education and selected schools.

    GAO is making three recommendations to Education to correct its CCAMPIS persistence and graduation rate calculations and to encourage schools to inform students about the option to increase federal student aid to help pay for child care. Education disagreed with GAO's recommendations, but described plans to improve its performance calculations. GAO continues to believe additional actions are warranted.

    Resource Files

    gao_higher_education_aug_2019.pdf4.65 MB
  • The Institute for Women's Policy Research created this report to highlight access to higher education, investing in single mothers' higher education, and student parent success initiative. 

    Two-generation (2Gen) programs and policies create opportunities that allow adults and the children in their lives to build on each other’s successes. Ensuring that both parents and children have access to affordable, high-quality educational opportunities, for example, is a core component of a 2Gen approach. Investments in the postsecondary success of parents with young children can increase attainment of credentials leading to good jobs, bring children the benefits of high-quality learning environments, promote later college-going among children, and improve family economic security across generations.

    Resource Files

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