2014

Aspen Institute Announces $1 Million Ascend Fund for Two-Generation Solutions Fund Will Invest $1 Million in Bold Ideas and Collaborations That Produce Economic and Educational Results for Families

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In another step to significantly improve the lives of low-income children and their parents in the United States, Ascend at the Aspen Institute today launched the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund. The $1 million fund will invest in cutting-edge thought and action among leaders in community-based programs, policy, and research. The objective of the Ascend Fund is to invest in solutions that tap the creativity, knowledge, and assets of all sectors of our society to create a cycle of opportunity for children and their parents. Details on applying for funding are below.

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As a new model of social innovation and cross-sector collaboration, Ascend at the Aspen Institute is inviting Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for the Fund, seeking partners who are passionate, strategic, and relentless in the quest to move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. The Aspen Institute Ascend Fund seeks investments that connect across issues, disciplines, strategies, and sectors, and that take a two-generation approach to the work - focusing on both children and their parents together.

Citing the need for solutions that build on innovation, influence decision makers, and have real impact for children and parents, Aspen Institute Vice President and Ascend Executive Director Anne Mosle said, "We know that high quality early childhood education can produce a return on investment as high as seven to 10 percent, and we know that parents' educational attainment is the best predictor of economic mobility for children in this country.  We are also witnessing the power of 'mutual motivation' – when a child observes her parent learning, and vice versa – which can help give the whole family a better shot at success. We must integrate educational and economic opportunities for children and their parents together for better results as well as more effective use of resources."

Forty-five percent of all U.S. children now live in low-income households.  Shifting income, family structure, and racial and ethnic demographics and concurrent budget constraints demand new ways of working, as well as new pathways to stability for families.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the Fund are supported by strategic partners that include national, corporate, and family philanthropies.  Ascend envisions an America in which a legacy of economic security and educational success passes from one generation to the next.  The program takes a two-generation approach to its work – focusing on both children and their parents together – and brings a gender and racial equity lens to analysis.  Ascend elevates education, economic supports, and social capital as the core elements that create an intergenerational cycle of opportunity.

"We want to lift up what works for families and encourage risk-taking among leaders and organizations," said Ms. Mosle.  "The Fund's investments will focus on action, results, and learning."

How to Apply:

The Aspen Institute Ascend Fund will accept Letters of Inquiry until August 19, 2013, at 5:00 pm EDT. Organizations selected to submit full proposals will be notified in October and the Fund's grantees will be announced in April 2014. Organizations selected for investment will join a dynamic national learning network. The complete guidelines, criteria for the Fund, and examples of potential investments are available at ascend.aspeninstitute.org.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.  Ascend takes a two-generation approach to its work – focusing on both children and their parents together.  As a new model of social innovation and cross-sector collaboration, Ascend has three strategies: to build a brain trust of diverse leaders through a national fellowship program; to identify, support, and elevate two-generation programs, policies, and community solutions; and to spark a new conversation to ensure the perspectives and strengths of families inform programs and policies.  Ascend at the Aspen Institute was founded with catalytic support from leaders who have an established and longstanding commitment to issues impacting low-income families, both in expertise and active investments, including: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Patrice King Brickman, Charlotte Perret, Open Society Foundations/Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, Chambers Family Fund, The Kresge Foundation, Siobhan Davenport/Rocksprings Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. 

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

SOURCE Ascend at the Aspen Institute



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