News

How Organizations Can Support College Students in their Return to Campus

Robyn Attebury Ellis August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended higher education and is posing unique challenges for nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping first-generation college students succeed. Organizations continue to show courage and creativity as they adapt to meet new challenges and provide timely support for the students and families they serve. In June, the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative partners – the Scheidel Foundation, the Crimsonbridge Foundation,  Capital Partners for Education, College Success Foundation DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions – met virtually to brainstorm and share strategies to support college students’ return to campus during the pandemic.  

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How You Can be There for a Young Parent in College

Guest post by Devon Haynes of Generation Hope May 2020

Generation Hope Scholars are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and persisting against the odds. They are all young parents in college, and every day they are balancing a combination of going to school, parenting, and dealing with the range of systemic and logistical challenges that come with being a low-income parent of color. They are also working, primarily in the retail and service industries, and some are even caring for their own parents. 

Nationally, the outlook is bleak: fewer than 2% of women who have a baby by age 18 go on to earn their degree before age 30. COVID-19 has thrown up yet another roadblock for Generation Hope Scholars, but with wraparound support that includes financial aid, academic tutoring, caring mentors, mental health care, career readiness support, and case management, we can ensure the pandemic doesn’t derail their dreams. 

If you’re looking for ways to build community and make a lasting impact, consider joining Generation Hope as a Mentor for a Scholar. 

Generation Hope is currently seeking caring adult mentors who will support a young parent as they work toward their dream of graduating college. Our mentors are people from all walks of life who are passionate about supporting teen parents in college and believe that education can be transformative for two generations–our Scholars and their children. 

Each Mentor builds a strong bond with their Scholar, meeting up once a month to do a fun activity or to just catch up. Generation Hope’s program fosters meaningful, long-term connections since Mentors support their Scholars through their entire college journey. Mentors are a consistent person Scholars can turn to for encouragement or a listening ear.  

“My mentor Lisa and I have grown very close in the past 5 years. As Lisa says, I am the tightrope walker, and she is my safety net. She has been one of my biggest supporters throughout school, always celebrating times in which I have gotten a 4.0 in the semester, made the Dean’s List, or when I have received scholarships. She has also been there for me during the difficult times. Lisa is always there to listen to me. Lisa always believed I was going to get through it no matter what and reminded me of how close I was getting to my goal. I am grateful that Lisa never let me stop.” – Ana (George Mason University) Pictured Left: Mentor Lisa with Scholar Ana and her children

Mentors also play a role with financial support. Mentors commit to providing $1,200/year ($100/month) toward their Scholar’s tuition if the Scholar is attending a 2-year college or $2,400/year ($200/month) if the Scholar is attending a 4-year college. This contribution — made monthly or once a year — bridges the gap between a Scholar’s financial aid (including government Pell Grants) and the real cost of attending college, to help them graduate with as little debt as possible. Mentors make this tax-deductible donation themselves or raise it through fundraising. 

Generation Hope Mentors are the “special sauce” that help our Scholars beat the odds–graduating at a rate that is nearly 8 times the graduation rate of single mothers nationwide, and exceeding the average rate for all college students. And we provide robust support to our Mentors. Each Mentor is backed up day-to-day by our staff of case workers, or “Hope Coaches,” and we also have a Mental Health Coordinator on staff. We are truly a team, so mentors don’t feel like they are on their own.

Will you join us as a Mentor for our incoming Scholar class? In the face of the incredible challenges from COVID-19, we’ve already seen so many inspiring examples of what is possible when communities come together to help one another through these tough times. To learn more, or to apply, visit our website or contact our Director of Programming, Caroline Griswold Short (caroline@supportgenerationhope.org). 

Generation Hope is one of six nonprofit organizations focused on student success that is part of the 3-year College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative in partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Scheidel Foundation.

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Making the College Dream Possible for Teen Parents

August 2019

The more than 1 in 5 college students who are parents face a unique set of challenges on their path to and through college. As a result, fewer than 2% of teen mothers nationally who have a child before age 18 go on to complete college before age 30. Generation Hope, a community partner in our College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, provides mentoring, resources, and services to help D.C. area teen parents become college graduates and helps their children enter kindergarten at higher levels of school readiness. In the post, “How to Make the College Dream Possible,” Generation Hope shares opportunities for each of us to support this often overlooked group of college students.

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Learning Session: Supporting Students on the Journey to and through College

August 2019

With just 58% of students earning a college degree within six years, there are now more college dropouts than high school dropouts in the United States. These young adults are leaving college campuses with debt, but without a degree. For students from under-resourced families who are also the first in their family to go to college the numbers are more stark—just 11% are earning a college degree.

A recent Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers learning session explored the challenges that many students in our region face in the journey to and through college, the key supports and services that help students thrive in college, what quality looks like in such programs, and how philanthropy can effectively engage to ensure everyone has the opportunity for postsecondary success.

Elizabeth Morgan of the National College Access Network (NCAN) kicked off the conversation sharing national statistics and the limits of information available regionally around college access and competition.

Crimsonbridge Foundation Executive Director Danielle Reyes then moderated a panel discussion with nonprofit leaders Amma Felix, President of Collegiate Directions, Julie Green, Executive Director of New Futures, and Nicole Lynn Lewis, CEO of Generation Hope. All three of these organizations are members of the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative. This initiative serves as a partnership between Crimsonbridge, the Scheidel Foundation, and six nonprofits to share ideas, learn from successes and mistakes, and partner to solve issues. The nonprofit partners in the C3 Initiative, including the three represented in the panel, act to support and eliminate barriers facing first-generation and under-resourced students. Collegiate Directions supports students financially, academically, and culturally throughout high school and into post-grad life. New Futures focuses on aiding under-served students through certifications and community colleges with scholarships, academic advising, and career coaching. Generation Hope, provides mentoring, resources, and services to help teen parents become college graduates and their children enter kindergarten at higher levels of school readiness.

The conversation focused on topics such as capacity building opportunities within the organizations, the importance and role of current and prospective partnerships, and barriers facing students. The panelists shared how each of their organizations would benefit from strengthened partnerships with colleges and universities and involvement from state-level representatives. Nicole emphasized the significance of having available completion funds, or flexible money, for students who need emergency financial assistance in order to continue with their college education. And finally, all three of the panelists agreed that communications work is key in changing the narrative so that the students are viewed as young adults with a right to a college education and the resources necessary to complete their college education.

Overall, the conversation imparted the message that financial investments do not support these students alone, but that the personal support of mentors, partners, colleges and universities, funders, and policy-makers are all instrumental in determining the future of a young adult striving to complete their education.

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