In partnership with the Urban Institute and supported by a $1.1 million grant from ECMC Foundation, the Wellesley Centers for Women launched the Data-to-Action Campaign for Pregnant and Parenting Student Success in 2022. The goals of the campaign are to identify the most effective strategies for implementing data tracking and reporting systems that identify parenting students enrolled in college, as well as follow their educational outcomes like grades, retention, and graduation.
The Data-to-Action Campaign is the inaugural project of the Student Parent Action through Research Knowledge (SPARK) Collaborative, a national partnership initiative that will be formally announced later in 2022 that supports connections between research and efforts to effect change for student parents.
The Data-to-Action Campaign team is conducting a policy review to identify how parenting and partnership status has been collected and reported in existing surveys and individual campus strategies, identifying important lessons and considerations. The team is also learning about how data collection mandates work in different states and higher education systems and how implementation approaches can complement these requirements. For example, the team is closely following how data collection laws passed in 2021 are being implemented in Illinois and Oregon.
The grant from ECMC Foundation will support a cohort of four community colleges and one community college district or system through the process of collecting and using data on student parenting and partnership status. The cohort will develop new campus programs and strategies aimed at improving academic outcomes for parenting students. It will also identify and seek to address the needs of special student-parent populations, like single mothers, who face particularly large obstacles to completing their degrees.
The campaign team is working with state and federal stakeholders to inform considerations around improving student parent data collection at a policy level. The team will disseminate findings to policymakers and higher education practitioners, releasing briefs, hosting webinars, and facilitating group discussions. The campaign team will host a capstone event at Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., in 2025 to share cumulative findings and recommendations with federal and state policymakers and other stakeholders.
The campaign hopes to establish and spread a data-driven mindset and challenge colleges and universities to consider how to promote success for parenting students, especially single mothers and other groups that may benefit from additional support.