Earlier this year, it was announced that a $50,000 grant from the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund would allow Hostos to implement a pilot program called the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund Program; a national initiative that takes a “two-generation” approach to help families improve their lives. The Ascend Fund Summer Program proved to be a success and registered an 88% retention rate allowing most program participants to stay in College.

One student even graduated on time thanks to the Ascend Fund Summer Program. Furthermore, all of the 15 student-parents received a B grade or better, with 10 of them earning at least an A-.

The Ascend Fund Summer Program allowed Hostos student-parents to accelerate their postsecondary degrees by enrolling in summer coursework, while simultaneously enrolling their children in Hostos' College for Kids Summer Academy, a high-quality intensive educational summer camp all free of charge.

On July 30, students, faculty, and staff celebrated the accomplishment of this first cohort at a ceremony hosted by the Office of former Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.

One “two-generation” success story is Nazaret Fernández. While her son participated in College for Kids she was taking the one class she needed to complete her associate degree in Early Childhood Education. Now she is planning to earn a bachelor’s degree at Lehman College, while working at the Hostos Children’s Center.

“The advisors and counselors were extremely accessible. The program was great, and my son really loved the camp,” Fernández said.

Hostos personnel who participated in the closing ceremony included Odalys Díaz Piñeiro, Director of Special Projects; Angela Ríos, Director of the  Summer Bridge and the Student Success Coaching Unit; Lisanette Rosario, Director of Career Services; Assistant Dean Johanna Gómez; and Fabian Wander, Coordinator of Hostos’ Wellness Center. Mekaelia Davis, Program Manager for the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund, was also present.

Díaz Piñeiro and Ríos congratulated the students and expressed their gratitude for having been part of a collaboration that yielded such positive results.

Rosario, who is herself a 2001graduate of Hostos, delivered the keynote address in which she shared her personal experiences as a student and single parent. She told the Ascend participants that she had to overcome many of the obstacles they faced, but by persevering she eventually earned a master’s degree and obtained her present administrative position at the College.

“I always kept my eye on the prize,” Rosario said, “not just for myself, but because I wanted to be a good role model for my children.”
Wander, who also heads the Empowering Student Parents (ESP) program at Hostos, said these initiatives are more important than ever because 61 percent of community college students who have children after enrolling do not earn their degrees.

For more information about the Aspen Institute Ascend Fund program at Hostos Community College, contact Dr. Odalys Díaz Piñeiro at 718-518-4309.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.  

Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.