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Women’s Foundation of Mississippi gains place in Aspen Institute effort

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi’s efforts to help single mothers further their education received a significant boost with its inclusion in the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Network, a new network of leading organizations using “two-generation approaches” to create economic mobility for families.

The “two-generations” approach helps  mothers continue their education while receiving quality care and schooling for their children. Education, from early childhood through post-secondary, is a core component of two-generation approaches.

The 10-year-old Women’s Foundation of Mississippi will receive a $25,000 one-time grant to develop and implement a two-generation strategy at two yet-to-be determined community colleges in the state.

The WFM is partnering with three organizations already familiar with the two-generation approach – the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (Washington, D.C.), Springboard To Opportunities, affordable housing program in Jackson and Moore Community House, early head start program in Biloxi. They will work to create tools that can be used by other community colleges, the WFM said in a press statement.

The Women’s Foundation is one of the initial 58 organizations, including the Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office, selected from more than 24 states that represent a national movement around two-generation approaches.
“These leaders are fueling change for America’s families,” said Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the ‘War on Poverty,’ the Aspen Institute is proud to invest in transformational ideas to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.”
Carol Penick, executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, said the effort will provide women the opportunity to further their education, while at the same time giving their children the opportunity to learn.
“It can change their lives forever by breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty,” she said. “As one mother at a community college in Mississippi told us, ‘My children are proud of me for going to college and taking care of them at the same time.’ Others tell us that their children are doing better in school as a result of seeing their mothers study and work hard to prepare for a better future.”
The Women’s Foundation has already started working toward implementing the two-generation approach with matching funding of $575,000 to help incentivize community colleges across the state. In early 2013, WFM granted $160,000 to the Mississippi Community College Board. The MCCB will use the WFM grant to provide transportation, child care, and tuition assistance to low income women enrolled in a dual GED/information technology certificate program at five community colleges.
The Aspen Institute identified the Women’s Foundation through a highly selective national competition. More than 250 organizations applied to join the Network and receive funding from the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund. The selected organizations ranged from community colleges seeking to better serve student parents and their children, to early childhood centers engaging parents in pathways to employment, to two-generation partnerships spearheaded by Promise Neighborhoods, United Ways, and women’s foundations.



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