Ivy Tech Community College, along with three other community colleges nationwide, is participating in the national non-profit Education Design Lab initiative.

This multiyear design challenge was created to help test and scale strategies to dramamtically improve success rates for single mothers over the next six years. The institutes that will be participating in this initiative are Ivy Tech Community College from Indianapolis; Central New Mexico Community College from Albuquerque, New Mexico; Delgado Community College from New Orleans, Louisiana; and Monroe Community College from Rochester, New York.

Ivy Tech Community College includes 19 campuses across the state of Indiana and is the largest single accredited statewide community college system, and is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution. Of the students who completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, Ivy Tech estimates that 72 percent are Pell Eligible, 46 percent are first generation students and approximately 11 percent of students are single mothers.

Under this new initiative, Ivy Tech will aim to have students earn 50,000 degrees, certificates, and certifications per year, and to increase fall-to-fall retention rates from 50 percent to 60 percent by 2023. According to a news release, these goals will only be attained by providing additional support to the most vulnerable and at-risk students, including single mothers.

“Ivy Tech’s primary purpose is to engage all students so they successfully launch or expand their careers or educational opportunities,

said Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president. “Single mother students pursuing educational and career goals face significant hurdles, both for themselves and their families. We are thrilled to be a part of this opportunity to build a solution for their needs that can be scaled across our state system.”

The initial pilot for this initiative will start at the Indianapolis, Muncie, Lafayette and Sellersburg campuses, and will be scaled across all Ivy Tech campuses over time.

Over the next two years, the Education Design Lab will facilitate a structured process for the institutions to design, implement and scale interventions that can help improve attainment rates for single mothers attending community college. At the end of a successful completion of the design year, each institution will be eligible to receive a one-time startup fund up to $50,000 to support the launch of the pilot.

“We are committed to designing the right supports and helping more single mothers complete their credentials on time,” Ellspermann said. “Through this design challenge, Ivy Tech will be able to further our efforts to better connect campuses to local communities and to create a stronger frontline focus on student success.”

Research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicates that 2.1 million single mothers enroll in higher education each year. Of these single mothers, nearly 90 percent are low-income, 43 percent work more than 30 hours a week and 40 percent said they were likely or very likely to drop out due to dependent care obligations. The research reports that among all women attended community college, 21 percent are single mothers and 44 percent of all single student mothers attend public two-year institutions.