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New Report: How 4 Community Colleges are Reimagining Higher Ed for Single Moms Success

The Lab’s latest Design Insights Brief will help institutions better understand single mother learners and increase their academic and economic success.

Washington, DC, Nov. 29, 2021 — Education Design Lab (the Lab) today released a new report about its Single Moms Success Design Challenge, a multi-year initiative funded by the ECMC Foundation that aims to dramatically improve community college completion rates for single mothers.  

The Single Moms Success Design Insights Brief, available to download here, introduces four pilot programs launched in fall 2021 at the following colleges:

  • Central New Mexico Community College (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  • Delgado Community College (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Monroe Community College (Rochester, New York)

The report also shares six insights from the design process, which can help other colleges and universities better serve single mothers with more flexible, affordable, and relevant programs.

Miriam Swords Kalk, one of the Lab’s lead Education Designers on the project, said: “The experiences, perspectives, and strengths of single mother learners have fueled this work from the very beginning. As we’ve seen across our whole cohort, redesigning higher ed with single moms at the center breaks down systemic barriers to them reaching their education and career goals. Yet the impact can extend even further – connecting their families with new opportunities; greater flexibility and support for other learners who have been underinvested in; powerful, equity-centered institutional transformation; and inclusive economic growth across their broader communities. When colleges focus on single moms, everyone benefits.

COVID-19 has made this work even more urgent, as school and child-care closures have hit U.S. mothers the hardest. As ECMC Foundation Program Officer Rosario Torres said in the brief: “When I think about this project specifically, I think about reimagination – really being able to reimagine what student supports look like for single moms and for student parents broadly speaking, knowing that higher education was not designed for single mothers. We need to be really intentional about meeting single moms where they are now, in light of everything that is happening, as we know the COVID pandemic has really exacerbated those inequities.”

What’s next: Over the next several years, the Lab will support the teams as they sustain and scale their pilots. The cohort aims to achieve a 30 percent increase in attainment of degrees and high-quality credentials by single mother learners at each school, impacting at least 6,000 single moms by summer 2024.

Download the brief:

The Education Design Lab (Lab) is a national nonprofit that co-designs, prototypes, and tests education-to-workforce models through a human-centered design process focused on understanding learners’ experiences, addressing equity gaps in higher education, and connecting learners to economic mobility. The Lab’s process also shows higher education leaders how to consider the needs of employers, using the curriculum and program design as a gateway to make skills more visible to students and employers alike. Learn more:  

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