Empowering Bright Futures: The Alliance’s Policy Agenda for California’s Leaders to Support Student Parents and Their Families

Unlocking the potential of 3.9 million parenting Californians without a college degree is key to empowering bright futures and fortifying the state’s economy. However, in both state policy design and implementation, student parents have been largely overlooked. Supporting this crucial demographic, the majority of whom are people of color, will not only help close persistent racial equity gaps in college and the workplace but also create a multiplier effect that will improve the livelihoods of numerous generations and build a more prosperous California. Explore the vision of The California Alliance for Student Parent Success (The Alliance) through its policy agenda that calls on state policymakers and higher education leaders to champion five key strategies for a more inclusive and equitable California.


1. Strengthen financial aid to cover student parents’ true college costs.

2. Provide enough quality, affordable child care options to address student parents’ needs.

3. Meet the housing needs of student parents and their families.

4. Advance family-serving institutional policies and practices.

5. Collect and utilize data on student parents’ pathways to improve their well-being and success.

The California Alliance for Student Parent Success is led by The Education Trust–West and California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy, with support from an Advisory Committee that includes student parents and other field experts.

We extend gratitude to The Alliance’s funders – ECMC Foundation, Imaginable Futures, Michelson 20MM Foundation, and Tipping Point Community – for their generosity and unwavering support that makes this work a reality.


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.