Single Moms Success

How might community colleges dramatically improve completion rates for single mothers by intentionally addressing the unique needs of this population?


Each year 2.1 million single mothers enroll in postsecondary education, representing over 11% of the entire postsecondary population, according to research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Despite their significant presence in the postsecondary sector, single mothers are rarely the focus of campus programming and little is known about the best ways to move the needle for these learners. 

The Single Moms Success Design Challenge is a two-year, student-centered design and prototype process led by the Education Design Lab. Through this challenge, four regionally accredited, public community colleges from across the country will design, launch and test scalable interventions aimed at dramatically improving attainment rates for single mothers who seek to obtain a degree or high-quality credential from a community college. The challenge goal is to improve attainment rates of degrees or high-quality credentials for single mother learners by 30% at each institution by 2024. The cohort will improve education outcomes for a total of 6,000 – 8,000 single mother learners.

Primary Audience

Single mother learners

Project Length

March 1, 2019 - December 1, 2024

Numbers of Learners Impacted

At scale, expected 6,000-8,000


Central New Mexico Community College (New Mexico)Delgado Community College (Louisiana)Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana)Monroe Community College (New York)

The latest: ASU+GSV

Binh Do (Education Design Lab), Alisa Wells (Ivy Tech Community College), Tamika Duplessis (Delgado Community College), and Rosario Torres (ECMC Foundation) discuss “Designing with and for Single Moms: New Models Focused on Increasing Retention of Single Mothers” at the 2022 ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego.

Our Partners

Delgado Community College

Delgado Community College is Louisiana’s oldest and largest community college. Across its six sites in the New Orleans region, it serves 14,000 students in credit-bearing programs and thousands more in its innovative workforce and professional development programs. Delgado’s Single Moms Success pilot will focus on holistic support and industry-aligned learn-and-earn opportunities for single mother learners to make progress simultaneously in their education, careers, and financial support of their families.

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College serves nearly 200,000 students annually across its more than 40 locations throughout Indiana, making it one of the largest community college systems in the country. Ivy Tech’s Single Moms Success pilot will aim to build a single moms cohort that includes dedicated wrap-around support services, workforce-aligned programming, and access to community partners. 

Monroe Community College

Located in Rochester, NY, Monroe Community College is part of the State University of New York System and serves 15,000 students across its urban and suburban campuses. Monroe has become recognized as a leader across higher ed in its data gathering about its single mother and parent learner populations. Monroe’s Single Moms Success pilot will incorporate holistic support services, flexible academic programs, and family-friendly campus culture initiatives.

Central New Mexico Community College

Central New Mexico Community College is the largest community college in New Mexico, serving over 22,000 students across nine locations in the Albuquerque region. A pioneer in workforce innovation and in 2Gen approaches, the school works closely with industry partners to develop flexible programs that prepare learners for fulfilling careers. CNM’s Single Moms Success pilot will offer dedicated wraparound support, comprehensive academic and career advising, and scholarships for single mother learners.

Community Colleges to Watch

Momentum is building across campuses nationwide to design learning experiences and systems that better support single mother learners and other parent learners. The institutions listed below presented strong applications to participate in the Lab’s design challenge. We look forward to following their progress as they continue to champion solutions for single mother learners in their communities.

Littleton, CO

Austin, TX

New York, NY

Bossier City, LA

Galesburg, IL

Sanford, NC

Centralia, WA

Colombus, OH

Cleveland, OH

Bangor, ME

Frederick, MD

Aberdeen, WA

Chester, VA

Kankakee, IL

Omaha, NE

Phoenix, AZ

San Antonio, TX

San Diego, CA

Dayton, OH

Memphis, TN

Washington, DC


The Lab is proud to partner with the following organizations to develop and advance new education-to-career models in support of single mother learners. We thank them for their thought partnership and contributions to the field.

Reimagining Single Moms Success: A Window into the Design Challenge

The Single Moms Success Design Challenge aims to help community colleges address the obstacles faced by single mother learners in the pursuit of degree and credential attainment by pursuing the question: How might community colleges dramatically improve completion rates for single mothers by intentionally addressing the unique needs of this population? See how the Lab engaged four leading community colleges in a design experience to reimagine single moms success at our National Convening in June 2019.

Twitter Hashtag: #SingleMomsSuccess

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