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Aspen Institute Announces Policy Acceleration Partnerships



MN Office of Higher Education and Raise the Barr one of six recipients

News Release
March 18, 2021
Contact:  Sandy Connolly (651) 259-3902

St. Paul, MN — The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE), in partnership with Raise the Barr, an organization focused on helping low-income single parents complete their postsecondary education, have been announced as one of six recipients of the Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnerships — a new effort to support cities, counties, and states committed to increasing economic mobility and well-being for students who are parents.

Raise the Barr was co-founded by Minnesota Viking linebacker Anthony Barr and his mother Lori Barr in 2016. The organization is committed to increasing opportunity and economic mobility for low-income single parents and their children through education.

“The needs and challenges of college students with children are too often overlooked or misunderstood,” said Commissioner Dennis Olson, OHE. “We are grateful for this opportunity to deepen our work with the Raise the Barr organization in their worthy goal of helping student-parents complete their education.

Success in these endeavors doesn’t just benefit the parent, but helps create stability and a new direction for their children, as well.”
The partnership will enable OHE to fund a full-time Whole Family & Student Parent Coordinator. The coordinator will oversee planning, research, and development for student parent initiatives on college campuses in MN, engage in purposeful collaboration and coalition building with nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and other stakeholders, including student parents, to work toward a shared vision of success for student parents.

OHE will also use the grant to host three convenings to formally launch the MN Student Parent Alliance, which will raise awareness about and increase resources to student parents and their children in MN.
These partnerships will ensure that policies and systems lead parents to credentials and careers that provide living wages, access to opportunities for advancement, and continued learning in sectors with high growth and demand. The awards are 18-month grants of $150,000 to fuel city, county, and state agencies’ work in partnership with other public entities, parents, and community-based organizations.
“It takes strong partnerships and innovation to advance postsecondary success for parents, which is why we turned to their communities for creative solutions. These exciting new partnerships are geographically diverse and designed to accelerate important work on behalf of parents and will serve as strong models for other cities and states. I’m thrilled to watch these innovations open doors for more student parents,” said Anne Mosle, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend.

“Creating real solutions for student parents is within the reach of governors and state leaders through the incentivizing and scaling of cross-sector solutions,” said Amanda Winters, postsecondary program director at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and PSP National Advisor. “The projects represented in the Policy Acceleration Partnership recipients represent exactly the types of innovative and collaborative efforts that can make a true impact.”

The remaining five public entities include:
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL)(GA)
City of Long Beach (CA)\
Colorado Community College System (CCCS)(CO)
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS)(PA)   
Rhode Island Department of Human Services (RI)
Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. We embrace a commitment to racial equity and a gender lens. For more information, visit 
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit 

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group ( enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. For more information, visit
Imaginable Futures (IF) is a global philanthropic investment firm that believes learning has the power to unlock human potential and aspires to provide every learner with the opportunity and the tools they need to imagine, and to realize, a brighter future. By taking a systems approach to solving complex education challenges, IF works across public, private and social sectors to bring to life transformational ideas in local, national and global contexts for learners of all ages. With a deep commitment to on-the-ground partnership and co-creation with those we serve, Imaginable Futures is empowering learners, families and communities to be the changemakers of the future. Established in 2020 and managed by a global team, Imaginable Futures has invested $200 million in more than 100 partners across Africa, Latin America and the United States, as well as in India with sister organization, Omidyar Network India. Imaginable Futures is a venture of The Omidyar Group and is founded and funded by Pierre and Pam Omidyar. Follow us at @imaginablefut and learn more at

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