Generation Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting student parents, has recently created a new three-year national certification to recognize and highlight institutions actively and effectively working towards success for this population.
The FamilyU Seal approval process involves assessing how higher ed institutions student parent support efforts align with the FamilyU technical assistance framework, said Nicole Lynn Lewis, founder and CEO of Generation Hope. The framework consists of four key factors surrounding student parents: the applicant’s data; policies; faculty, staff, and hiring practices; and campus culture.
A formal list of colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations investing in and intentionally serving student parents is an important resource for many, said Lewis.
“It’s important for students and prospective students to have a sense of which institutions are really putting time and resources into making sure that they will be successful,” Lewis said. “It’s important for funders to see who might be doing this work right in their backyard, in terms of intentionally serving this population and making sure that parents are able to not only get a postsecondary credential but to move into family-sustaining careers.
“And then also for regional and local policy makers and folks who are doing this work even at the federal level to be able to see what institutions and organizations they might be able to partner with for legislative initiatives, for policies that can really create economic mobility for families,” she added.
Eligible institutions include two- or four-year U.S. nonprofit postsecondary institutions – both public and private – and nonprofits directly serving U.S. student parents. Higher ed districts with multiple institutions are not eligible, but individual institutions within said district are.
Several organizations can receive the seal. Those recognized with it this year will be showcased as recipients through the 2025-2026 academic year, according to the website.
Additionally, one institution will be awarded $25,000, and one nonprofit will get $15,000 award. The two awarded parties must put the funds towards advancing their respective student parent support efforts.
Historically, student parents have felt that higher education may not be accommodating nor an option for them, said Dr. Ja’Bette Lozupone, director of student affairs at Montgomery College. The Seal provides “a way for student parents to be able to go someplace and say, ‘These are the schools that are going to be my top choices because I know I will have resources and services in place to support my success.'”
The school plans on applying for the certification, Lozupone said.
One prominent issue that this demographic faces, is the need for childcare during unconventional hours and days, while parents study or take night classes, she said.
“[The FamilyU Seal] is an opportunity to really certify that internal and external stakeholders are aware that ‘if I come here as a student and I have a child, then I know that they are going to be watching out for me, they are going to actually see me in all of my greatness as a student parent, and then that support system will be there as well,'” said Howard Community College President Dr. Daria J. Willis, who was a student parent herself.