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July 7, 2021

Expanding Promise Symposium SPARK Talks: Student Parents Design Team

On June 2nd, 2021, College Promise and ETS held day one of the Expanding Promise Symposium, a virtual event centered around the findings of five research design teams examining the wrap-around supports and financial sustainability solutions that best aid and enable different groups of students to enter and persist to, through, and beyond college into living wage jobs and community life. The symposium brought together students, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and other Promise stakeholders to review and discuss scholarly insights for five key student populations: First-Generation Students, Youth In or Aged-Out of Foster Care, Students with Disabilities, Student Parents, and Students Needing Academic Support. The symposium’s programming included lightning-round talks, in which a member of each research design team gave a 5-minute presentation summarizing the findings and recommendations for their studied student population.  

Lindsey Reichlin Cruse is the Managing Director of the Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI) at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). She represented the Student Parents design team, which also includes Sherry Cleary of City University of New York and the New York Early Childhood Institute; Andrew Hunt of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; David Croom of the Aspen Institute; Nate Johnson of Postsecondary Analytics; Brandi Lóera-Mendiola of California State University, Fresno; Larissa Mercado-Lopez of California State University, Fresno; Carrie Welton of the Student Parents design team; and Waukecha Wilkerson of Cell-Ed.

Reichlin began her Spark Talk by outlining the scope of her studied population, explaining that nearly 4 million undergraduates are parents of dependent children, roughly constituting 22% of all college students. "Single mothers, in particular, don't have that extra support, they are spending a significant amount of time per day on care, housework and… also working. Half are working at least 25 hours a week and all this together can lead student parents to delay their college plans,” said Reichlin.  

In response to the unique challenges of Student Parents, Reichlin’s design team recommended a College Promise model that emphasizes providing childcare and maximum flexibility (e.g., class schedules parents can attend). The team further recommended the availability of wrap-around supports, including services for health and wellness, financial resources, food security, campus practices specifically tailored for student parents, academic support, and career coaching.

To learn more, watch the full recording here.

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