Empowering and Supporting Single Mothers in Higher Education

December 13, 2021

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Title: Single Moms Success Design Challenge: Supporting single mothers’ success in college in preparation for family-sustaining careers 

Author: Education Design Lab

Source: Design Insights — an Education Design Lab publication series

A recently published report offers insights about single mother learners at community colleges.

Over the past two years, the Education Design Lab, in partnership with the ECMC Foundation, piloted the Single Moms Success Design Challenge. This challenge focuses on increasing postsecondary degree attainment rates 30 percent by 2024 for single mother learners at four community colleges around the country.

From the pilot effort, the authors outlined several recommendations related to designing support programs and initiatives for single mother learners in higher education:  

  • Institutions should offer single mother learners with supports that seamlessly provide basic needs, as well as career guidance. This will foster holistic support for these learners.
  • Institutions should build and foster campus communities that enhance support and inclusivity for single mother learners. Such community-building should include anti-racist and anti-biased actions by institutions, particularly as over one-third of Black women college students and over one-fifth of American Indian or Alaska Native women college students are single moms.
  • To foster a sense of agency for single mother learners, institutions should offer learning models that are flexible. These models should be cognizant of the structural barriers single mother learners face, including time poverty, scheduling difficulties, and demands from work, family, and college.
  • Institutions should build data infrastructures that collect and maintain more accurate data about single mother learners on their campuses, as well as such students’ trajectories through college. This will allow colleges and universities to enact more data-informed decisions and support programs for single mother learners.
  • Colleges and universities should gather insights from multiple single mother stakeholders connected to the institution, including students, campus leaders, employers, community organizations, and policymakers.

To read the full report, click here

—Ty McNamee

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