World Education is dedicated to improving the lives of the poor through education, and economic and social development programs.

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Single Mothers' Career Readiness and Success

Geographic Scope: Nationwide

Client(s): ECMC Foundation

Services: Publications, Technical Assistance and Coaching

Expertise: Career Pathways, College and Career Readiness

Almost nine million families in the U.S. are headed by single mothers. Most support their families on very low incomes and inadequate supports for child care, affordable housing, and health and dental care [1]. When pursuing postsecondary education, single mothers are most likely to enroll in two-year colleges and certificate programs. Like many other nontraditional students, parents juggle multiple responsibilities while trying to complete college: 54 percent of community college students who are parents leave before attaining a degree or certificate within six years [2].

There is limited information available about the effective practices and program models that address the needs of single mothers enrolled in career pathway bridge programs or postsecondary career and technical education and training. With an 18-month planning grant from ECMC Foundation, World Education’s National College Transition Network (NCTN) will begin to remedy this through an investigation of program strategies and models that address the needs of students who are single mothers. NCTN’s vision is to actively promote and disseminate the promising program models and potential policy levers identified through the project. This work will lay the foundation for viable and scalable nationwide implementation of programs and policies that prepare single mothers for career pathway success.

Single Mothers' Career Readiness and Success planning grant activities include:

  • Review the literature on college and career readiness and parents (especially single mothers) in postsecondary career pathways training and bridge programs to identify evidence-based factors to inform the development of a typology of career pathway training program models and promising practices.
  • Identify and document promising practices and policies implemented in postsecondary career and technical education programs as well as community-based education and training programs to support single mothers at various steps along the pathway to college and career success.
  • Write program profiles based on a review of outcome data and interviews and focus groups with staff and faculty, lead administrators, and students to document promising models, innovative practices, and lessons learned.
  • Propose recommendations for an implementation and dissemination plan.
An outcome of this project is NCTN’s increased capacity to provide more targeted professional development and technical assistance to colleges and community-based programs around how to implement promising practices for supporting single mothers’ college and career success.

[1] Women Employed. (2011). Single mothers and college success: Creating paths out of poverty. Chicago, IL: Women Employed.
[2] Gault, B., Noll, E., and L. Reichlin. (2017). The family-friendly campus imperative. Supporting success among community college students with children. Discussion paper. Association of Community College Trustees and Strada Education Network.