By Zoey Lichtenheld, Director
While too often invisible in higher education systems, one in five college students are parents. Despite having higher GPAs than their nonparenting peers, on average, student parents are 10 times less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree. Nicole Lynn Lewis — founder and CEO of Generation Hope — is on a mission to change that.
As a teen mom herself, Lewis remained dedicated to her goal of becoming a college graduate. While raising her young daughter, Lewis graduated from the College of William and Mary, earning a bachelor’s degree in English, and later receiving a master’s degree in social policy from George Mason University. Her journey as a teen mom prompted her calling to help young parents build legacies of opportunity through educational attainment.
At Generation Hope, Lewis and her team work directly with student parents to earn college degrees and with their young children to prepare them for kindergarten. This holistic, two-generation approach enables Generation Hope to combat poverty outcomes by advocating for the unique needs of student parents and their families. And through partnerships with colleges and universities, it provides technical assistance to advance student parent success in higher education.
Generation Hope’s impact is undeniable. While more than half of all parenting college students leave school without a degree, Generation Hope is combating those odds — 62% of their participating parenting students earn a degree within six years.
As Generation Hope expands its reach nationally, the organization looks forward to refining its messaging and branding. We recognize Generation Hope’s commitment to building a more equitable world and Lewis’ dedication to helping young parents achieve economic mobility by empowering them to reach their full potential.
Parenting while achieving personal academic goals is no easy feat. There’s always a balancing act of handling school, career, household needs, self-care preservation, and quality time with loved ones. For young or teen parents, particularly those of color, this can be magnified with additional challenges along the journey. Through Generation Hope, Lewis is giving student parents and their families an opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive.