New pilot project aims to assist single mothers with degree attainment

Education Design Lab (EDL) is launching a six-year pilot project with the goal of achieving a 30 percent increase in degree attainment for single mothers at participating colleges by 2024, reports Education Dive. After spending the first year of designing their supports and interventions, the four community colleges selected for the project will each be eligible for $50,000 in funding from ECMC Foundation to implement and scale their programs. EDL is a nonprofit that “designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities.”

Current educational systems don’t effectively serve single mothers, said Marta Urquilla, chief program officer at EDL, adding that “the institutions we have selected for this design challenge are working hard to change that.” EDL says it selected the four participating schools—Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana; Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York; and Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College—for their “innovation readiness, approach to student success, and student demographics.”

Degree completion for economic mobility

EDL hopes the Single Moms Success Design Challenge will surface strategies for better supporting the 2.1 million single mothers who enroll in colleges and universities each year. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, almost 90 percent of that student population is low-income, 43 percent works more than 30 hours a week, and 40 percent say they’re at risk of dropping out to care for their dependents. One-fifth of female community college students are single mothers.

Commenting on Delgado Community College’s selection for the pilot project, Interim Chancellor William Wainwright noted that “families led by single mothers in New Orleans experience poverty at a rate twice the national average. We know that low wages contribute to this inequality.”

“A college credential is critical to improving the economic mobility of millions of single mothers and their families,” said Peter Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation. “[T]his work will power the development of specialized supports and interventions to bring evidence-based strategies to help more single mothers succeed in college.”

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