The best path to a job that pays a living wage capable of sustaining a family is through post-secondary education and workforce training. For far too many people, especially from low-income families and communities of color, barriers stand in the way to successfully completing education and training. Simply affording tuition and fees can be a major hurdle. In addition, there are other barriers faced by these families—food and housing insecurity, child care stability and affordability, lack of transportation, needing to bring wages in to supplement household income—which can undermine someone who is trying to juggle school, work, and family responsibilities.

How are funders working across these systems to offer parents and young adults the best chance of prospering?

The Roundtable post-secondary education and workforce training access work is done in partnership with:


Child Care Access & Affordability and Post-Secondary Education – Q&A with CLASP

With contributions from Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield. Why does child care access and affordability matter for students? How common is it for students to be parents? Today’s college students are increasingly low-income students balancing work, family, and school. Assistance with paying for quality child care services could increase student-parents’ ability to make ends meet and finish…

Housing Insecurity and Post-Secondary Education – Q&A with Heartland Alliance

With contributions from Melissa Young. We hear a lot about housing shortages these days. How common is housing insecurity? Are there geographic areas more deeply affected than others? By many measures housing insecurity is at epidemic levels across the country. In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage…

Economic Security, Public Benefits, and Post-Secondary Education – Q&A with Jobs for the Future

With contributions from Cynthia Liston & David Altstadt. What is the difference between college affordability, total cost of attendance, and unmet need? Why does students’ economic security matter? Economic security matters for college students because too many are failing to complete their education due to financial barriers. The fact is we need more students with…

An Overview of Post-Secondary Education Access and Policy in the US – Q&A with IWPR

With contributions from Lindsey Reichlin Cruse & Barbara Gault. At the Roundtable, we’ve been talking about building webs of support that provide stability for children and families. While every family’s web looks different, what are some ways that low-income post-secondary students’ webs may differ from those of other students? Over half of today’s undergraduate students…

Funder Discussions

What Can Philanthropy Do? [VIDEO!]

Released in 2018, ECFC, Funders Together GFE, Workforce Matters, and the Roundtable released a brief that highlights strategies funders can use to increase access to and completion of postsecondary education and job training. This 20-minute video provides an opportunity to get a primer on funder strategies.  

Related News & Updates

Accelerating Postsecondary Success for Parents: Leveraging the 2Gen Approach in Policy – Ascend at The Aspen Institute

Ascend at The Aspen Institute is a hub for resources, ideas, and collaboration on two-generational approaches that help parents and their children achieve economic security. This brief covers the state and national policies affecting parents’ access to and completion of postsecondary education. Find more resources at Ascend’s website here.

What Can Philanthropy Do? Postsecondary Education & Job Training: Increasing Access & Completion

ECFC, GFE, Funders Together, Workforce Matters and the Roundtable developed this series of recommendations for ways funders can improve access to and completion of postsecondary education and workforce training programs. Suggested strategies include capacity building, direct supports, policy advocacy, narrative and strategic communications, and research.

Broadening the Apprenticeship Pipeline – National Skills Coalition

The National Skills Coalition identifies two barriers to family-supporting wage level positions, especially for women – pre-employment training and child care access. Using case studies and a review of the research, this brief makes the case for federal and state policies that can help women enter the workplace.

Opening Doors for Young Parents – The Annie E. Casey Foundation

This policy report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation uses national and state-level data to identify the greatest challenges faces young parents as they enter the workforce. The report includes policy recommendations that can help parents return to school, get job training, or acquire a job with family-sustaining wages.

Still Hungry and Homeless in College – Wisconsin HOPE Lab

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab does an annual survey of post-secondary students’ basic needs. This recent update found that 36% of students are food insecure, 36% are housing insecure, and 9% are homeless. For more information and a detailed look at college students’ current needs, check out the report here.

Balancing Work and Learning – Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Balancing Work and Learning: Implications for Low-Income Students, a new research paper from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, details the implications of working while getting a post-secondary education and how these impacts differ for low- and high-income students. High-income students tend to benefit from work, which is likely to be in…

Policies to Advance the Success of Low-Income, Working Students – CLASP Webinar

Friday, September 28 1:00-2:00 pm eastern Students and state policymakers understand how important post-secondary education is to financial well-being and state economic productivity. Today’s college students are no longer 18- to 22-year-olds from middle class families who attend full-time and can depend on family support. They are increasingly low-income, working adults balancing work, family, and…

Supporting Students Along Their Pathways: Policy Approaches for Addressing Economic Insecurities – Jobs for the Future

This incredibly useful white paper from Jobs for the Future outlines approaches to increasing students’ economic security, from providing direct services like food banks to financial aid reform to benefits access. The paper lists examples and evidence of what’s worked. For a detailed account of students’ economic security and what we can do to improve it,…

Understanding the New College Majority – IWPR

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research is a hub for information on college access and job training, with a plethora of resources focused on women and the effect of post-secondary education access on their families. IWPR is launching a new series on “the new college majority” – independent students. This briefing paper outlines what we…