Last week, representatives from each of the four community colleges—Ivy Tech CC in Indianapolis, IN; Monroe CC in Rochester, NY; Delgado CC in New Orleans, LA; and Central New Mexico CC in Albuquerque, NM—in the Lab’s Single Moms Success initiative (SMS) cohort gathered virtually to celebrate the official launch of their pilot programs this fall. Team members discussed learnings, challenges and triumphs they’ve encountered over the past two years of pilot design and implementation, and impact they’re already seeing from early pilot roll out.
As Dr. Mia Johnson, Chancellor for the Ivy Tech’s Anderson campus and design team lead shared, “Already our entire community has started paying attention to our single mother learners and their needs. Our single mother learners feel more comfortable asking their faculty and staff for assistance. Our employees are more aware of the unique needs of our students and how to help them. Our external stakeholders are asking how they can help in making our students more successful. The momentum around this work is incredible.”
During the convening, Single Moms Success cohort team members shared out one word or phrase to describe how their pilot programs will impact single moms in their communities.
Despite making up 11% of all undergraduate students, single mother learners are rarely the focus of educational programming. Only 28% of single mother learners earn a degree or credential within six years, but each additional level of education they complete decreases their chances of living in poverty by 32%.
Aiming to dramatically increase degree and credential attainment rates for single mother learners at each institution, the four pilots share a focus on holistic support of single mother learners while responding to local experiences, goals, and needs of single moms and their families. Throughout the pilot design process, teams have focused on how they can strongly support single mother learners’ sense of growth, belonging, and agency as key drivers of engagement while also ensuring their pilots are doable, measurable, sustainable, and scalable.
“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,” ECMC Foundation Program Officer Rosario Torres said during the gathering.
As more learners continue to engage with the Single Moms Success pilot programs, we look forward to sharing more stories and learnings from the field. Learn more about our Single Moms Success initiative here.