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Education Design Lab Announces Design Challenge to Improve Success for Single Moms in Community Colleges

November 13, 2018

By Education Design Lab

Education Design Lab (the Lab), a non-profit leader in the design and implementation of new models for higher education, today announced a call for proposals for the Single Moms Success Design Challenge. This two-year challenge, followed by four years of evaluation, is funded by the ECMC Foundation, and aims to improve postsecondary outcomes for single mother learners enrolled in community colleges.

Beginning in early 2019, the Lab will work with four community colleges to launch and test a set of scalable interventions designed to dramatically increase the percentage of single mothers attaining a degree or high-quality credential from community colleges. By intentionally addressing the unique needs of single mother learners, participating institutions agree to try to boost attainment rates for single mothers by 30 percent by 2024.

In 2016, 2.1 million single mothers were enrolled in postsecondary education. Of those, 89 percent were low-income and 43 percent worked more than 30 hours a week, according to a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The study also found that 40 percent of enrolled single mothers said they were likely or very likely to drop out due to dependent care obligations.

“We’ve now done several design challenges to address attainment for underserved populations, such as transfer students, vets, and students of color,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder and president of the Lab. “We find that when we take a group of committed colleges through a process that calls out the needs and motivations of specific populations, they generate the space and the data to craft creative and scalable solutions designed to increase graduation rates.”

Four community colleges will be chosen through a competitive process beginning November 13, 2018. Institutions that are ready to dramatically push the envelope to improve single mothers’ college success rates and that demonstrate a vision and track record of innovation are encouraged to apply. The Lab will lead the selected schools through a structured design process to design, implement and scale new, transformative interventions that can dramatically improve attainment rates for single mothers attending community college. Institutions will be eligible for some implementation funding.

“Despite their increasing presence in postsecondary education, single moms are rarely a focus of campus-based programming,” said ECMC Foundation’s President, Peter Taylor. “We hope this RFP will identify campuses excited to join the growing community of practitioners, researchers, and advocates taking note of this important demographic and commit to design and implement interventions that address the unique challenges and opportunities for this student group.”

Institutions that participate in the program will be supported by higher education design specialists from the Lab and its Innovator Network, including access to dedicated design support professionals and subject matter experts. The design challenge will include a focus on evaluation and dissemination to help participating institutions track outcomes and share knowledge with the field. The design challenge is made possible through the generous support of the ECMC Foundation.

Institutions interested in applying for Single Moms Success can submit proposals between now and December 21, 2018.
To submit a proposal, visit

About Education Design Lab
Education Design Lab is a 501c3 nonprofit that designs, tests, and implements unique higher education models and credentials that address the rapidly changing economy and emerging technology opportunities. The Lab demonstrates where technology, rigor and design can improve opportunity for historically underserved students to maximize their potential in the higher education system.

Education Design Lab works across disciplines and alongside schools, employers, entrepreneurs, government, foundations, nonprofits and innovators. The organization has significant experience managing national and local learning cohorts, working with organizations such as The Lumina Foundation, UNCF, American Council on Education, Credly, and the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership. Learn more:

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