By Dr. Queena Hoang
On September 14th and 15th, the Michelson 20MM Foundation hosted Forging Equitable Futures for Student Parents: A Statewide Summit. The two-day event was a transformative convening fueled by the groundswell in California in support of student parents’ success. Attendees included advocates, practitioners, philanthropists, systems leaders, student parents, and allies from all across the state as we learned about evidence-based examples of success efforts and forged connections to sustain this growing movement. 

“A recurring theme throughout the summit was the understanding that supporting student parents not only benefits them, but also has a profound, positive impact on [multiple] generations… It truly embodies the concept of multi-generational assistance and the long-lasting effects of investing in education for parenting students.” Krystle Pale, Parenting Student, University of California, Santa Cruz

Vice President Hildegarde Aguinaldo delivered a moving keynote on the need for childcare resources on college campuses.

Our keynote speaker, Hildegarde Aguinaldo, Vice President of the California Community College Board of Governors, emphasized the importance of providing childcare resources on college campuses to allow students to fully engage in and be present during classes. She reaffirmed the California Community College’s commitment to supporting student parents through the bold framework of Vision2023, under the leadership of Chancellor Sonya Christian. Following the keynote, attendees heard from leaders of each of the higher education systems regarding efforts they have taken to weave student parent wellbeing and success into their institutional structures in an intentional manner. 

“I would confidently say it was a life-changing experience for everyone in attendance. As a recent graduate and parenting student myself, to be surrounded by passionate individuals in one room was powerful to the work we do at each of our campuses.” Bianca Estrada, Parenting Student and Alumna, California State University (CSU), Monterey Bay

Attendees were able to choose from a number of breakout sessions.

During the breakout sessions, attendees selected from a number of powerful sessions led by leaders from across the state. The Education Trust–West and California Competes were excited to soft launch their student parent coalition supporting student parents in California higher education through research, policy, advocacy, capacity building, and community engagement, while also sharing ways to join these efforts. The CalWORKs Association invited students from Project SPARC, “Student-Parents Are Reimagining CalWORKs,” to explain their new data on parenting students and policy recommendations the data has informed. Raise the Barr, Long Beach City College, Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges, and LA Southwest College dove into student parent housing models that have helped shape and improve student parent academic success, while in the other room, Amber Angel from the ECMC Foundation facilitated a student parent panel, which discussed their experiences transitioning from community college to university.

“We are tired. Please stop making us do your work.” Emily Elizabeth, Parenting Student, CSU Monterey Bay

A panel of student parents shared their experiences and challenges they have faced.

During the closing keynote and panel, Dr. Crutchfield reflected on lessons learned from conducting research on the California student basic needs movement and proposed a new paradigm for framing student basic needs as student human rights. She was then joined by four student parents who emphasized the importance of having welcoming and inclusive family-serving campuses, which includes accessible diaper changing stations, transitional bridge programs, and parenting student resource centers. It was evident that student parents often feel they shouldn’t have to advocate and push as intensely as they do, given the additional responsibilities they carry while navigating both the education system and parenthood. As the Michelson 20MM Foundation moves forward in forging equitable futures for student parents, we are excited to be joined by this community of allies and advocates.

Special thank you to our partners: The Blue Shield of California Foundation, California Competes, California Community Foundation, California Community Colleges CalWORKs Association, California Department of Social Services, The Education Trust West, Tipping Point Community, and ECMC Foundation

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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