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Community College Women Succeed

Nearly four million student parents attend college every year — most are women. Without adequate support like public benefits, financial aid, or childcare, many mothers never graduate from college. Barriers to retention and completion prevent millions of students from reaching their potential each year.

In February 2019, Achieving the Dream and the Biden Foundation joined forces to launch Community College Women Succeed (CCWS), an initiative to identify and promote effective strategies that help adult women students, particularly student mothers, succeed in community college. After the Biden Foundation suspended its operations in April 2019, ATD continued our work on the initiative. We engage with leaders throughout the country to learn about gaps and promising practices, host regional focus groups with adult women students to elevate the student voice nationally, review existing research and identify retention trends, and partner with a cross-section of stakeholders to create resources.

Dr. Karen A. Stout on what supporting student mothers means to her.

Explore a series of inspiring stories about women’s experiences and successes in community college, told in their own words.

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Parenting in College – By the Numbers¹


of community college students are women


of women attending community college are mothers


of moms attending community college are single

¹ Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16

Transforming Data into Action describes the accomplishments of the eight colleges that participated in College Success for Single Mothers, a three-year project that NCTN launched in January 2020. The goal of the project was to increase colleges’ capacity to collect data to identify parenting students, with particular attention to single mothers students, and use that data to address their needs through the implementation of targeted action plans. This project is a partnership between ATD, WorldEd, The National College Transition Network, and PERG Learning, and is supported by the ECMC Foundation.

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Community College Women Succeed: Reearch Agenda, May 2021

In May 2021 the Community College Women Succeed (CCWS) advisory group announced the release of a research agenda designed to increase understanding the needs of parents who are attending college, advance equitable access, and provide data to help colleges better serve student parents.

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