Rise Prize Will Award $1.5M for Innovative Solutions Supporting Student Parents 

ACCT is proud to partner with Imaginable Futures and Lumina Foundation for the Rise Prize, which is awarding $1.5 million in combined prizes for ideas and solutions to support postsecondary success for student parents. Applications are due May 17th.

Community colleges serve as launching pads for diverse groups of students across the country. Many community college students are adult learners, veterans, working students, and students who are also parents. In fact, community colleges are the primary educators of student parents. According to analysis by researchers at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 42% of student parents in the nation are pursuing their educations at a community college—a significantly larger share than any other sector of higher education. Nationally, parents make up 1 in 4 of the community college student body. As such, it is imperative for community college leaders to promote policies and practices that support access, affordability, and equity for these students. Furthermore, as college leaders respond to the impacts of COVID-19, it is essential to address the needs of student parents who must balance the responsibilities of their studies, work, and caregiving. For student parents, balancing these priorities has never been easy; yet, the disruptions caused by the current pandemic puts the livelihoods of their families at risk and makes their needs more acute. 

To elevate the needs of the diverse population of community college students, ACCT has gathered stories of students pursing their education while balancing family responsibilities. One such individual is Alicia Moreno—first-generation college student, trustee for the Alamo Colleges District, veteran, and mother. The following is an excerpt of Alicia’s experience in her own words:

I am completing my second year of studies and will soon be transferring to a local four-year university, but at one time I wasn’t even sure that I was “college material.” I am not the traditional community college student. I am nearing 50 years old. I am a retired veteran of the United States Army. I am a first-time college student and a first-generation college-goer. My husband and I have four children of our own in college (and three in high and middle schools). Would I fit in? Would I find an outlet for the drive to serve others that drove me to select a career in public service? Could I even do the college thing? I mean, I hadn’t had a math class in almost 30 years! Yes, I was often mistaken for a faculty or staff member on campus. And then I had an epiphany...I am the new traditional community college student. I redefined “the traditional community college student.” And then I burned that label as unimportant and restrictive to all.

Alicia’s story demonstrates the determination of student parents and highlights the need for supports to ensure their academic, emotional, and financial well-being. Her story is one of many of the quarter of community college student who are parents and whose needs are unfortunately often overlooked. Especially in the current period of uncertainty resulting from COVID-19, student parents are among the most impacted as they face childcare disruptions, college closures, and unpredictability with work. That’s why ACCT is a proud partner of the Rise Prize, which is awarding $1.5 million in combined prizes for ideas and solutions to support postsecondary success for student parents. These supports include affordable childcare, flexible scheduling, financing solutions, and more. 

Community colleges must continue to invest in the future of student parents by creating solutions that help them thrive despite uncertainty. When college leaders and policymakers prioritize the needs of student parents, we see undeniable benefits including an increase in completion rates, more children of student parents pursuing postsecondary education, and improved family economic security across generations. If your college is working on innovative solutions to support student parents, we encourage you to apply at by May 17th.

Allison Beer is the Senior Policy Analyst at ACCT. She can be reached at

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