learn / 2020
College Moms Project
We have spent almost four years investigating the reasons why only 1.5% of teen mothers graduate from college. We've built partnerships with L.A.-based maternity homes, social service agencies, public schools, charter schools, colleges, universities, childcare agencies and women's mentorship teams within leading companies -- all without seeking outside funding. Our objective for the coming year is to fully implement the programs we've developed and expand our capacity to reach hundreds of teen moms.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
- LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- St. Anne's Maternity Home
- New Village Girls Academy
- McAlister High School for Teen Mothers (3 Campuses
- Riley High School for Teen Mothers (3 Campuses LAUSD)
- Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE - 115 campuses in California)
- Meet Bridget
- Juno Collaborative
- Educational Talent Search (USC)
- Riordan Fellows and Scholars Programs (UCLA)
- Numerous high schools throughout Los Angeles County
- Pathways L.A.
- Women's Professional Development Groups and individual women at leading L.A. companies
- Capital Group
- Google and Apple.
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
Our partner organizations can be divided into three categories:
Sources of Teen Moms: These include high schools and social service agencies. We visit these campuses throughout L.A. County and work directly with the teachers and students.
Colleges and Universities: We work with dozens of campuses to secure enrollment and support services. Most of our teens will enroll initially in community colleges, where they will be supported by the campus C.A.R.E. office.
Nonprofits: In addition to our mentors, we work with other nonprofits that support our young moms. These include agencies such as Pathways L.A., which helps us secure off-campus childcare services when on-campus facilities are full.
What is the need you’re responding to?
The College Moms Project was created when a student in the Educational Talent Search program at USC became pregnant and dropped out of school. We spent more than a year formally studying the challenges that young mothers hoping to finish high school and enroll in college face. We visited schools for teen moms, social service agencies that serve young parents and college and university campuses across the state, speaking with academic deans, inspecting campus child care facilities and cataloging the services that each school provides.
It became apparent that young mothers fail to attend college because the resource hunt is overwhelming. The required goods and services actually exist and, to our surprise, virtually all young mothers in our program can attend college for free. But learning the system at any one campus is an overwhelming challenge for teens. By working with many agencies, we created a single-source solution that provides everything from tuition payments to child care.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
It’s time for us to dramatically expand the program we’ve researched and developed over the last three years. We believe we’re the only nonprofit in the country dedicated exclusively to putting teen mothers into college and ensuring that they have the resources required to graduate. While there are support services of varying quality for parents on most college campuses, we have found no other nonprofits that work across campuses, and certainly none that start with pregnant and parenting high school students.
Other nonprofits do a terrific job of providing resources such as diapers and food and medical care, but we appear to the only organization that focuses exclusively on education – and specifically higher education.
Fortunately, most of us have many years of experience putting first-generation, inner-city students into college. We’ve now built on that expertise an understanding of the unique needs of young mothers who hope to complete their education.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
We know from studies conducted by reputable organizations (principally, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research), that educating young mothers lifts generations of family members out of poverty. Every impoverished single mother who attends college elevates not only herself, but also her children from a life of public dependency to one of self-sufficiency.
Many of our teens are in the foster system or are wards of the court. Even before becoming pregnant, they struggled to imagine the kind of careers that many of us take for granted. Once they enter our cohorts, however, we guide them toward education pathways that allow them to become independent adults and to raise their children in a dignified manner.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Our current project involves expanding operations to serve many more teen mothers, and our success will continue to be measured by the number of pregnant and parenting students we engage in our mentorship networks.
Because we grew out of the MBA schools at USC and UCLA, our mentors tend to be female MBA students at those two universities and executive women at leading companies in Los Angeles. The project for which we seek support involves formalizing the mentorship networks we’ve run informally for the last two years – specifically, using the funds to engage hundreds of young mothers throughout Los Angeles County.
Our objective is always to engage pregnant and parenting teens, two-thirds of whom drop out of high school. Our mentors bring them back into school and, together with our staff, educate the young moms about certificate programs in community colleges, degree pathways and professional careers. The mentors serve as role models and sources of encouragement, while the staff members function as technical experts who do academic advising and secure resources such as financial aid and childcare services.
Our success is easy to measure because virtually none of the teens we work with would pursue higher education on their own. We help the students complete high school, enroll in community college, receive the support services they need, and complete their certificate programs or college degrees.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- College graduates
- College matriculation
- High school graduation rates
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Strategy assistance and implementation