2021 Grants Challenge

LIFT & LAVC: Reimagining Paths to Success for Student Parents

LIFT-LA has partnered with LA Valley College (LAVC) Family Resource Center (FRC) to break down barriers to post-secondary education attainment for the 25% of low-income students who are also raising children. We offer student parents virtual one-to-one coaching with a trauma-informed MSW intern. Pairing LIFT’s virtual coaching model with LAVC FRC’s comprehensive supports cultivates an innovative, holistic, and effective model to drive student parent success. This partnership ensures a reliable path towards economic mobility through education.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

“I’ve met other student parents who face my same struggles. I feel less alone, and I really feel like I belong in school now.” Charmaine, LAVC Student Parent Helping families build careers is a key lever in disrupting intergenerational poverty. Education is a common barrier to career goals and higher levels of income. Student parents graduate at less than half the rate of their non-parenting peers. For mothers, completion rates within six years are between 8% and 18% (respectively for single moms and moms from two-parent households), compared to 49% for women who are not caregivers. Single mothers are more likely to take a break from their studies due to lack of equitable supports and the financial stress of being a parent. When they do complete their degree, it can take 6-15 years. While student parents are on a tried-and-true path to create brighter futures for their families, their limited financial resources, time, and mental bandwidth mean those goals often remain out of reach.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

This unique program offers student parents a comprehensive network of supports through LIFT’s 1:1 coaching and support provided by LAVC’s Family Resource Center. This integrated and holistic approach addresses the complex roots of poverty and systemic barriers to higher education. Specifically: Financial capabilities: LIFT-LA coaches help members bolster their money management skills and connect them to supports to address their basic needs. Members work to build a budget, reduce debt, improve credit, build savings, and secure family-sustaining careers. LAVC student parents have access to the supportive services at the FRC; as well as short-term workforce training academies that lead to meaningful and living wage careers, participants can access non-credit courses focused on 21st Century employability skills. Personal well-being: LIFT-LA works with members to improve their self-efficacy and resilience, enabling them to better protect their families from poverty’s detrimental effects. The FRC provides parents with parenting classes. An FRC dedicated social worker and family therapist support and provide opportunities for students to build social capital. Children of students also receive services. Social connections: LIFT-LA fosters a safe space for members to develop healthy peer-peer and member-community relationships to build social capital. The FRC is a community of its own that offers events, workshops, and a virtual chatroom where student parents can connect.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 200

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Student parents are challenged by demanding roles placed on them by academic and family responsibilities, and services targeting their success are rare. LIFT and LAVC will employ an innovative two-generation approach that addresses student parent issues holistically and clears a path to economic mobility for their families. Through one-on-one financial and career coaching and personal well-being supports, LIFT and LAVC are dismantling the systemic barriers that too often prevent student parents from meeting their educational and financial goals. The model we are building will be codified and can be replicated in community colleges across the county. Fundraising has begun to replicate FRC’s at the eight other colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District. Ultimately, this project will blossom into a larger movement that will break generational cycles of poverty and make LA County the blueprint for student success—opening doors for low-income parents to rewrite their future.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

LIFT and LAVC will measure success using the following metrics: Of our meaningfully engaged members, 90% will persist or progress in employment, finances, or education. Specifically: - 50% will persist or progress in employment - 70% will persist or progress in finances - 50% will persist or progress in education - 45% will improve their personal well-being - 80% of student parents will successfully complete each semester of this grant - 70% of students will receive a certificate in a non-credit 21st Century Skills or Parenting Course. Our vision for success in this project is that student parents will be given the resources they need to enroll in classes, achieve their academic goals, persist in their education journey, while getting support that is attuned to their non-academic and unique needs to break the cycle of poverty. This includes building savings, reducing debt, finding secure employment, increasing their income, and improving their overall well-being.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

The FRC is the first and only center on a community college in California. It provides student parents with a community and set of resources on campus to help them succeed. The FRC provides for parents (parenting classes, virtual cafes, workshops, mentorship, stipends, textbooks and school supplies, community resources, academic counseling), children (diapers and children’s goods, socialization/activity groups, and early intervention services), and families (playgroups, family tutoring, food pantry, kid-friendly study lounges). Participants in this collaboration can also enroll in the New World of Work 21st Century Communication Skills Course as well as a parenting course. Through these classes, participants become LAVC students and learn employer-driven transferrable skills.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

College graduates

Community college completion

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE