June 28, 2024

One in Five: Students Who Are Parents Will Benefit from PA Department of Education Grant

Graduate hugging their childWest Chester University is one of only 12 universities in Pennsylvania to receive grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to help fund scholarships and programming for undergraduate students with children. The Parent Pathways Grant Program provides funding to institutions to directly support the persistence of parenting students in the form of tuition assistance, emergency funding, and wrap-around services.

WCU’s Center for Women & Gender Equity will administer the $150,000 award.

“This grant will allow us to award 25 parenting students with robust $5,000 scholarships; help us continue the large-scale parenting events we know are most effective for them and their families; and hopefully help fund a facilities project that will be child-friendly and child-centered,” said Lindsey Mosvick, director of WCU’s Center for Women & Gender Equity.

Parenting students bear significant burdens and need additional support to navigate through their academic program successfully. Studies indicate that one in five undergraduate college students is balancing the responsibilities of raising children while pursuing a postsecondary education, and nearly half of them do not earn a degree. Mosvick said WCU currently has approximately 400 student parents.

WCU’s Student Parent Task Force developed programming and plans in consultation with the statewide Pennsylvania Parent Pathways program to improve both recruitment and retention of pregnant and parenting students. Efforts focused on the identification of resources and systems to support parenting students, development of a listserv of 448 parenting students (including those who recently graduated), and an educational series of six community-building events. WCU’s Center for Women and Gender Equity maintains an online list of resources for students who are parents. The online resource repository is available 24/7 and accessible through D2L.

WCU is one of the six Pennsylvania institutions of higher education that are active members of the Parent Pathways Learning Network (PPLN). As such, these institutions contributed to the December 2022 Pennsylvania Department of Human Services policy report that underscored the importance of integrating the firsthand experiences of parenting students into statewide policymaking.

In the announcement of these inaugural grants, Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin noted, “The Shapiro administration is committed to breaking down barriers to higher education, and that is especially true for students who are earning a degree while also raising a family. By addressing the significant burdens of parenting students, the Parent Pathways Grant Program will empower these learners and their families to chart their own course and succeed.”

Reach out to the Center for Women and Gender Equity for additional information: cwge@wcupa.edu.

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