Supporting Students with ASD as they Transition to College and the Workforce

button-download-workshop-files Strand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 1:45 – 3:00 pm
Room: Richmond


As the number of students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to rise, many students with ASD are now entering college and the workplace. Participants will be able to recognize when interacting with a student with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), describe the characteristics of student with ASD: what it looks like in the college setting and identify strategies that can be used to help students on the autism spectrum succeed and transition to college and/or the workplace.


ajulianPresenter 1

Aimee Julian, Ph.D.
Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support

Biography: Aime´e Julian, PhD is the Director of the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS) at Illinois State University. ICSPS provides technical assistance, develops publications, and facilitates program improvement strategies for our partners as they relate to equity, college transition, recruitment, retention, and completion−encouraging achievement of special populations learners. Aimee creates, supports, and delivers professional development for career and technical education professionals across Illinois. She has 17 year experience working extensively with the implementation of the Perkins legislation through the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois State Board of Education, and in her current position at ICSPS. Aimee is an experienced lecturer and facilitator working to build capacity for understanding of Programs of Study, Career Pathways and the importance of partnerships.

Presenter 2

nmichalakNikki Michalak
ATTA Project Coordinator
Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support

Biography: Nikki Michalak has worked in special education for over 13 years. Nikki strives to facilitate success for special education administrators, staff, and students by providing access to information and tools specifically designed to support student s with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her goal is to understand the needs and challenges of educators working with individuals with ASD and be a relevant resource while empowering staff and students to succeed. Nikki continues to provide professional learning, technical assistance, coaching and consultation to educators, and families of individuals and youth with ASD. She co-created online professional development as well as under graduate and graduate courses on ASD. Ms. Michalak publishes in the field of ASD and informs local service provision through service on multiple leadership boards.


This presentation will showcase the Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project (ATTA) which seeks to develop and present resources that assist individuals with Autism in their transition from secondary education to postsecondary education or employment. This session will also provide training and support to important stakeholders (secondary and postsecondary educators, community members, family members and employers) as they work to provide an equitable experience for individuals with autism.

The Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project (ATTA) is accessible via a web portal which is located at The presenters have created this project for the state of Illinois to assist students with Autism as they transition to postsecondary and the workplace.

Resources that will be shared include:
– student self-assessment to be completed by the student/young adult with ASD
– workplace/environment assessment
– tips for faculty on working with students with ASD
– evidence based practices for ASD
– why should I hire someone with ASD
– getting the best out of your employee with ASD

This session will be engaging, and provide hands on exploration of what ASD looks like in your classroom, building or workplace. During this session participants will learn how to recognize when interacting with a student with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the presenters will describe the characteristics of student with ASD, and the session will explore what ASD looks like in the college setting. Moreover, participants will learn strategies that can be used to help students on the autism spectrum succeed and transition to college and/or the workplace.

Cultivate and Sustain Diversity and Equity Through Collaboration and Interdisciplinary Learning

button-download-workshop-files Strand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 9:45 – 11:00 am
Room: Richmond


Comprehensive, constituency-led design and implementation of online and in-person diversity and equity interdisciplinary professional and community development provides the critical reflection necessary to incite a long-lasting systemic shift toward equity. An intersectional, decolonizing pedagogical lens means leaders and stakeholders can arrive and participate in tact, inspiring awareness and understanding of biases and strengths, making conflict and difference valuable and transformational.


esternPresenter 1

Emily Stern, M.F.A.
Santa Fe Community College

Biography: For 25 years, Emily Stern, founder and principal consultant at Intersectional Consulting LLC, has consulted for academic, diversity and equity, and Title IX programming, curriculum, and professional development, as well as creates and consults to implement original diversity and equity online and IRL programming and educational tools, including El Corozón Deck, a bilingual educational tool designed to inspire critical thinking about social justice, community, and identity. Emily wrote This Is What It Sounds Like, a memoir about her childhood and her mother’s death in 1993 from complications of HIV/AIDS. She founded and oversees the Santa Fe Community College’s Center for Diversity and Integrated Learning. She was Phi Theta Kappa’s Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014 and has received a Presidential Diversity Advisory Committee Certificate of Excellence, and served two years as Vice-President of Diversity for the SHRM Northern New Mexico Human Resources Association.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Facebook)


When looking at the Diversity Collegium’s 2016 Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks report, it becomes clear that the future success of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts will rely heavily on the executive leadership endorsement and participation in a constituency-led approach to the design and implementation of comprehensive, strengths-based, culturally-responsive learning opportunities that acknowledge and uplift multiple realities.
The Santa Fe Community College, a Hispanic Serving Institution with a predominantly anglo faculty and primarily non-anglo employee and student population, is in the midst of implementing an institutional and community-wide framework that reflect and utilize these values and efforts. Centering collaboration, community partnerships and guidance, simultaneous professional and student development and events, equitable hiring practices, and interdisciplinary, culturally-responsive online and in-person curriculum, assignments, and materials, we are seeing a demonstrated shift toward a more engaged and equitable environment aware of personal and social responsibility and values.
Participants will learn more about the impacts of using a collaborative and intersectional approach to identify and better understand their personal and constituent needs.
Participants will learn how and why using a shared-leadership framework to design and implement short, relevant, experiential and accessible multi-media learning opportunities will facilitate critical thinking, reflection, compassion, and awareness as a means to creating and sustaining more meaningful, equitable and inclusive diverse environments.
Participants will learn how to create and implement high-impact diversity and equity focused blended interdisciplinary learning opportunities that are easy to implement, access, evaluate, and utilize in classrooms, boardrooms, departmental meetings, and individually.

Presentation Agenda
• Small Group Introductions: Name and ONE word/phrase describing your greatest strength. (5 minutes)
• House rules/norms. (5 minutes)
• ACTIVITY: collective brainstorm on social justice terms and definitions. (10 minutes)
• PRESENTATION: Global Benchmarks, leading through an equity lens, and The Center for Diversity and Integrated Learning framework and strategic plan. (15 minutes)
• Demonstration and presentation of blended online and in-person diversity and equity training and reflection. (30 minutes- facilitator will provide handouts with instructions and guidance on how to replicate the design process and implementation of presentation activity)
♣ Video: “Somewhere in America”
♣ Small group reflection: What is the impact on you of seeing this-thoughts/feelings/sensations, etc.?
♣ Small group guided reflections: Please respond to your group’s assigned prompt. (Handout provided by facilitator). Each small group will be given one question on which to focus and analyze.
• Discuss differences and similarities between participants experiences and the subject-matter in this lesson.
• How does the subject-matter relate to current local, national and/or global events?
• Discuss questions you may have, and possible solutions for the issues raised.
• Brainstorm possible relationships between the subject matter and your course/area of study/department.
• Based on the claims and ideas in the video, what are some examples of ways that unconscious bias, microaggressions, and systemic oppression might utilize, affect, hinder, demonstrate, and/or inform the issues raised in the video? (This can be answered in reference to the area of study, i.e. a specialty within math, the act of learning and utilizing math, the relevance and efficacy of data/statistics, etc.)
o Large Group Discussion: How and why can accessible, culturally relevant and responsive learning opportunities promote, cultivate, and sustain more equitable and inclusive environments?
• Closing (10 minutes)
o ACTIVITY: Small group action plans and large group share out (facilitator will provide handouts.

Change through Dialog: Working Together to Improve Education and Employment Outcomes for Deaf Individuals

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 9:15 – 10:30 am
Room: Richmond


The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) will share how we use data-informed root causes to (a) promote evidence-based strategies and (b) foster supportive relationships with local communities, both in an effort to improve educational and employment outcomes for a diverse deaf population. NDC will share examples of evidence-based practices, resources, and activities through this OSEP-funded technical assistance center.



scawthonPresenter 1

Stephanie Cawthon, Ph.D.
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes

Biography: Dr. Stephanie W. Cawthon is the Director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, OSEP-funded Technical Assistance and Dissemination project that promotes positive postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals. She is an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin with a long history of scholarship in issues related to accessibility and equality for deaf individuals in education and employment.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)

cgarberoglioPresenter 2

Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Ph.D.
Associate Director
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes

Biography: Dr. Carrie Lou Garberoglio is an educational researcher and evaluator affiliated with the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas at Austin, and Associate Director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. She also teaches research methods and statistics coursework at the University of Northern Colorado. Carrie Lou obtained her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)


Access to equitable education is important for the development of youth today, yet there is evidence of significant gaps in educational attainment across diverse and marginalized groups. While students with disabilities are afforded access a ‘Free Appropriate Public Education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, educational opportunities presented may not be equitable to those of their non-disabled peers. This is gap evident in the national numbers representing postsecondary outcomes of deaf students, the focus of this presentation. Even though deaf students are graduating high school at record levels, yet statistics unveil significant gaps in their secondary and postsecondary attainment. The gap in high school completion rate across the U.S. is 6% between deaf (83%) and hearing (89%) students. The bachelors’ degree attainment gap between deaf (18%) and hearing (33%) individuals is 15%. Furthermore, educational attainment gaps increase to as high as 22% for marginalized populations, individuals from different ethnic or racial groups, or those who are deafdisabled.
Education is the gateway to employment and social mobility. Yet, despite the promising trends in postsecondary attainment and improvements in legal policies regarding access, the employment gap between deaf and hearing people is of significant concern. For example, employment rates for deaf adults overall; is just 48% compared with 72% for their hearing peers, a gap of 24%, with the majority of this gap attributed to differences in the percentage of individuals who are no longer in the labor force (vs. actively searching for a job). The above gaps in education are important because there is a direct correlation between employment rates of deaf individuals and level of education attainment.

The mission of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) is to provide support that closes these education and employment gaps. While a focus on outcomes is useful, it does not deepen our understanding of the factors and conditions that lead to these results. Deaf students face many barriers and challenges as they move from high school into college, training programs, and the workplace. NDC conducted a root cause analysis of existing literature to identify underlying causes that affect deaf individuals’ levels of postsecondary education and employment attainment. Root causes identified including (a) limited access to language and communication, (b) reduced social opportunities, (c) negative attitudes and biases, and (d) lack of qualified and experienced professionals. There is no simple solution to these challenges, but we know that one thing is true: We must all work together to make sure that deaf students are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.

Current Data.

A review of current data on postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals calls to question the level of equitable opportunities and variability across the nation. Available data shows that for those of us who share the goal of increasing postsecondary success in deaf communities, there are some areas of optimism, yet also some areas of concern. The implications of the education gaps described above are significant. Compared to deaf individuals without a college degree, deaf college graduates have greater career mobility, enhanced earnings, and an increased likelihood of stable employment. Deaf individuals who have not completed postsecondary education are at risk for underemployment and unemployment, and they are also more likely to have shorter job tenure. Within the deaf population, current data reveal significant gaps in postsecondary outcomes for deaf people of color and deaf people with additional disabilities, which is crucial for the field to consider. There is also significant variation in postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals across states. This presentation will include a series of multimedia resources that make complex data accessible for a variety of audiences. These will be shared to encourage further conversations about how this information can guide practice and policy decisions.

Root Causes.

Shifting the focus from the symptoms of the problem but rather to the underlying causes of issues is critical to moving the needle towards improvement. NDC conducted a root cause analysis of existing literature to identify factors impacting education and employment outcomes. This root cause analysis is important in working towards solutions because it shifts the focus to uncovering and addressing causes of conditions not just the symptoms (Bagian et al., 2002; Wilson et al., 1993).

Evidence Based Strategies.

Drawing from this understanding of the root causes of challenges to deaf individuals’ postsecondary attainment, NDC identified practices that can mitigate the impact of root causes and associated negative outcomes. NDC focuses on the following five key impact areas: Designing Accessible Environments, Promoting High Expectations for Success, Collecting and Using Data for Decision-Making, Leveraging Community Resources, and Developing Collaborative and Integrated Systems. The National Deaf Center provides technical assistance to stakeholders on how to implement evidence based strategies that support deaf students in postsecondary education and training settings.

Implementation of these practices requires a shared vision and collaboration between all members of the system, including community organizations, institutions, and state and federal level agencies. This systems based approach can result in an increased capacity to implement evidence-based practices and strategies, and, when accompanied by an improvement approach to systems change, increase the body of knowledge on how these strategies result in positive outcomes for deaf individuals. This section of the presentation will also include specific examples of how these strategies for success have been implemented for diverse deaf populations.


NDC recognized the path to improved outcomes also includes actively involving the communities surrounding youth today. One of our goals is to build models of community networks to leverage social capital available at the local level with community clusters. This is an opportunity for families, in particular, to strategize and problem solve issues within their lived context. These networks will have a special emphasis on strategies to support positive outcomes for individuals underserved in the deaf population, including those who are not college bound and recent immigrants to the United States. This model responds to the need for active capacity building at the local level to both identify promising practices and to deliver evidence-based intervention. Taken in conjunction with the strong social media and outreach approach to sharing information, the community cluster model invites community members into the process of identifying critical needs and potential solutions, thus increasing buy-in and the chance for successful impact on postsecondary outcomes.

Drawing from the community conversation model based at the Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Vanderbilt University, NDC will model how “community asset-mapping” is used to identify the existing resources, opportunities, and organizations in a community and then addresses barriers to reaching target constituents. Community conversations are effective because they are focused opportunities for dialogue around concrete issues (Campbell et al., 2013). Beyond the purpose of focus groups, community conversations raise participants’ expectations about what is possible and encourage participants to work toward formulating solutions to problems. This model can be replicated by participants in their own contexts.

Through strategic, innovative, research-based technical assistance on national, state, and local level NDC seeks to transform systems and increase the postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion rates for a diverse deaf population. Yet, we recognize no one entity can provide the range of expertise required for transformational change across all levels of the system.

We believe that change can only happen if everyone is involved. Participants at the National Summit for Educational Equity are have a shared vision for educational opportunities for all communities. This is an opportunity for NDC contribute to capacity building, knowledge, and skills of participants in order to actively contribute to transforming education for deaf students or other marginalized populations. While the focus of this session is on deaf individuals, participants interested in this session will gain insight and strategies for reaching other low-incidence, culturally diverse, or underserved populations. The strategies we propose – data use, evidence-based strategies, and inclusive dialog – are effective across a wide range of contexts and diverse populations. Deaf individuals are not alone in facing systemic barriers in education and employment, the evidence-based strategies and practices can create opportunities for improved postsecondary outcomes for any population.

Equitable Leadership Impacting Institutional Change & Positive Outcomes

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 10:45 – 12:00 pm
Room: Richmond


Designing solutions that create equity in STEM is a priority at FIRST. In addition to a D&I initiatives overview, we’ll provide activities, strategies and tools from three equitable leadership practices: 1) the strategic Equity Priority Plan with department/program annual Equity Action Plans, 2) the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee with associated tools, and 3) the Designing STEM Equity Fellowship–an 18-month leadership development, solutions-generation program and curriculum.


Presenter 1

Shelley Henderson, Ed.D.
Diversity & Inclusion Manager

Biography: Shelley Henderson is the national Diversity and Inclusion Manager for FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. She has spent nearly a quarter-century working as a youth development specialist, certified teacher, non-profit executive, university program coordinator, adjunct professor, community organizer, public policy advocate and now TEDx speaker.

Shelley serves on her local New Leaders Council board and is leading two racial and gender equity efforts—regional implementations of My Brother’s Keeper in the Heartland, an Obama Foundation effort, and Let Her Learn collaborative, a National Women’s Law Center effort.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education and her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is working on courses toward a certificate and doctoral degree in Diversity & Equity in Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)(Facebook)

Presenter 2

Earl Redrick, M.B.A.
e4 Leadership Solutions

Biography: Earl Redrick is the founder of e4 Leadership Solutions and possesses a wealth of knowledge and experiences in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). He is a current senior public service employee and a U.S. Army Veteran, retiring after 22 years of service. He has compiled more than 20 years of executive and senior management leadership experience. He has compiled a lengthy and accomplished background in civil rights, fair housing and employment, and DEI in holistic community development using social determinants of health or place-based approaches. Earl is also a current Adjunct Professor teaching social and cultural equity. He is a dynamic and relational leader, whose blend of education, worldly/multicultural experiences, assignments in paid and non-paid, voluntary projects and relevant training make him a uniquely qualified professional to mediate conflict, facilitate dialogue and lead training around DEI initiatives.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)(Facebook)

Presenter 3

Domonique Bulls, Ph.D.
Diversity and Inclusion Fellow

Biography: Domonique Bulls is the inaugural FIRST Diversity & Inclusion Designing STEM Equity Fellow! Domonique is a native of Buffalo, NY. Her family and STEM education is two of her favorite passions. She received a B.S. in Biology from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master’s in Science Education from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Domonique is the founder of ‘Girls Can Do Science Too’ an initiative to inspire, empower, motivate, and educate girls in science. In her free time, she is a sports fanatic and loves to run. Domonique lives in Morrow, GA.

As a Fellow, Domonique will create solutions to STEM inequities for underrepresented and underserved youth, and support existing D&I efforts at FIRST. She will rigorously apply equity literacy, anti-deficit framing, leadership development, collective impact and human-centered design mindsets and approaches to to create for large systems-level change.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)


A FIRST Diversity & Inclusion activities overview and evaluation data collected on capacity-building and impact will be provided. These 5 core components include the NAPE online training modules and survey data collected. We will go into more depth about 1) the multi-year, strategic Equity Priority Plan with embedded department/program annual Equity Action Plans, 2) the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Committee, and 3) the inaugural Designing STEM Equity Fellowship–an 18-month leadership development, solutions-generation program and curriculum.

Shelley, Earl and Domonique have firsthand experience with their topic and understand their audience. We will provide timely and relevant information that can be put into immediate use (Equity Action Plan Template, Advisory Committee tools, etc.). Participants will engage in 3 hands-on learning activities. We will provide clear and useful handouts for workshop attendees. We will present effective strategies focused on underrepresented and underserved groups at FIRST.

Gallery Walk
-This activity is designed to allow participants to identify strengths, challenges and aspirations leading equity efforts on different colored post-it notes. They will place their post-it note reflections in the 3 areas designated on the walls, and then take a “gallery walk” to see what others said. Once time is up, we will debrief as a whole group.
-Desired outcome is that participants will see how others view positioning and feasibility as we all strives to create equity, diversity and inclusion.

Here I Stand
-This activity is guides participants through an exercise around some of the more pressing social issues and how they potentially intersect or impact equitable outcomes. Four position boards will be placed on the wall around the room-Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree. Several questions will be read to the broader group at which time participants will be asked to take one of the four positions as it relates to the question. Following each question, dialogue is facilitated.
-Desired outcome is to challenge participants to be mindful and open to discussions of varying perspective without judging.

Reader’s Theater
-This activity helps participants become familiar with and differentiate between the four Dimensions of Inequity—Micro-level (internalized and interpersonal) and Macro-level (institutional and structural). After these are defined, participants will read through a script as a whole group where they portray characters in a scenario. In four groups, they will discuss examples of the level of inequity playing out then generate solutions.
-Desired outcome is that participants practice generating ideas/solutions at all levels in ways that allow them to demonstrate understanding of the concepts and to generalize this to their day to day leadership work.

Achieving Equity through Greater Investments in Single Mothers’ Postsecondary Success

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 8:15 – 9:30 am
Room: Richmond


This session will explore the policy, institutional, and programmatic shifts that can improve equity in single mothers’ access to and success in higher education. Findings from a recent Institute for Women’s Policy Research study will highlight the quantifiable benefits of investing in single mothers’ educational attainment, and Generation Hope, a nonprofit serving teen mothers in college in the DC area, will discuss challenges, opportunities, and strategies for promoting single mother success.


lreichlincrusePresenter 1

Lindsey Reichlin Cruse
Senior Research Associate
Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Biography: Lindsey Reichlin Cruse is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). Lindsey manages Student Parent Success Initiative projects, which promote awareness of, access to, and success in higher education for college students who are parents. She leads the Student Parent Policy Working Group and was a contributing researcher for IWPR’s Job Training Success Project. Lindsey has presented at numerous events & conferences, including serving as a panelist at UNDP’s Third Global Forum on Business for Gender Equality and as a keynote speaker at the 2017 Student Parent Success Symposium. An expert on access to postsecondary education, Lindsey has been quoted in several outlets including The Washington Post, Refinery29, the National Journal, and Market Watch. Prior to IWPR, Lindsey held positions at the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and at Global Policy Solutions. Lindsey has an MA from Columbia University and a BA from UCLA.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)(Facebook)

nlynnlewisPresenter 2

Nicole Lynn Lewis
CEO and Founder
Generation Hope

Biography: Nicole Lynn Lewis serves as the CEO of Generation Hope, an organization which she founded in 2010. Nicole founded Generation Hope because, after completing college as a teen mother despite tremendous obstacles, she wanted to help other teen parents earn their degrees and achieve stable and successful futures. In just 8 years, Nicole has created a truly unique and thriving organization that is gaining national attention for its focus on college completion for teen parents. Generation Hope now serves more than 100 teen parents attending college in the DC region, has celebrated 30 teen parent graduates, and has provided more than $400,000 in tuition assistance. As a testament to her work, Nicole was named a 2014 CNN Hero, a 2017 Minority Business Leader by the Washington Business Journal, and a “Top 40 Under 40” by Washingtonian Magazine. Nicole holds a MA in Social Policy and Communication from George Mason University and a BA in English from the College of William & Mary.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)


Single mother families are increasingly common, and they have much lower incomes and higher poverty rates than other family types. Given the association of higher education with increased earnings, higher employment rates, improved well-being, and better outcomes for children, increasing single mothers’ college attainment can have far-reaching benefits for families and communities. Yet, despite the transformative power of a postsecondary credential, single mothers have disproportionately low rates of attainment: in 2015, just 31 percent of single mothers ages 25 and older held a college degree, compared with over half of comparable married mothers. With single mothers growing as a proportion of U.S. undergraduate students—their number in college doubled between 1999 and 2012—investing in supports that can help them tackle the major time-related and financial challenges they face is becoming increasingly important. Supportive services like affordable, high-quality child care, case management/coaching, mentorship, and targeted financial assistance can improve single mothers’ ability to enter and complete college, increase their economic security, and lead to multigenerational benefits.

This session will begin by describing the single student mother population. According to the most recent data, more than one quarter of women in college have children and most (60 percent) are raising children without the support of a spouse or partner. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) will share its analysis of the 2.1 million single mothers enrolled in college, including their racial/ethnic makeup, their enrollment patterns, their financial insecurity, and the caregiving considerations and time constraints that complicate their persistence in college. IWPR’s presentation will highlight key equity issues surrounding college-going single mothers, including the fact that women of color are especially likely to be raising children on their own while pursuing postsecondary education, and that single mothers are disproportionately likely to enroll in for-profit institutions—which cost more than traditional public institutions, lead students to take out significant debt, and often do not result in credentials that lead to high-quality jobs.

IWPR will also share findings from its recent study quantifying the costs and benefits for families, communities, and society of investing in single mothers’ educational attainment. These findings include the earnings gains that stem from single mothers’ attainment of two- and four-year degrees; the relative benefits for single mothers of earning a college credential compared with the costs associated with attending college (including lost wages); the impact of degree attainment on single mother family poverty; and a breakdown of the types and costs of supports that could promote single mothers’ educational success. These findings will help the audience understand and articulate the case for devoting greater economic and educational resources to improving degree attainment among single mothers.

Generation Hope, a community-based nonprofit focused on increasing college achievement among teen parents in the DC area, will then discuss challenges, opportunities, and effective strategies for promoting single mother family success. Nicole Lynn Lewis, Founder and CEO of Generation Hope, will share the organization’s two-generation model for promoting the educational success of teen mothers through targeted scholarships, case management, and mentorship. She will provide recommendations for campus- and community-based programs who serve or are interested in serving single mothers in college, and share her insights and lessons learned from her work helping teen parent families escape poverty and achieve prosperity through education. Ms. Lewis will also discuss how policy and institutional practices and systems could be improved to facilitate this population’s ability to enter college and persist to a degree.

The last 20 minutes will be open for audience participation, giving attendees the chance to ask questions and engage with the panelists and each other. Speakers will ask the audience questions as well, to better understand attendees’ interest in single student mothers, learn about the challenges they face and strategies they use for serving this population, and hear their insight and recommendations for helping single mother families achieve prosperity. Audience members will receive a handout that identifies supports and service delivery strategies that can address single mothers’ needs, and provides recommendations for promoting their educational success at the institutional, programmatic, and policy levels, in addition to a brief self-assessment tool developed by IWPR to determine how institutions and programs can become more family-friendly.