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Investing in Women’s Success as Students and Leaders

Eye on Strategy by Lynn Alvarez, Vice President, Programs & Strategy

March 24, 2022

In our latest annual report released earlier this year, we shared how a commitment to equity has been at the core of ECMC Foundation’s work since our inception. As we conclude Women’s History Month 2022, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few key ways a commitment to gender equity has informed our strategy to improve postsecondary outcomes for underserved students.

Leading the Way on Investing in Single Mother Students

Representing more than one in ten college students in the United States, single mothers are highly motivated to secure a degree or credential that will lead to a fulfilling career that allows them to support their families. But just one in ten complete their degrees on time. Building on our initial investment, we announced a new $10 million commitment last year to increase associate degree attainment among single mother students. As the only national funder with a specific focus on single mother students, we recently shared our learnings from this portfolio with the broader philanthropic community, including areas where additional investment can move the needle.

Growing a Movement to Address Students’ Basic Needs

Even before the pandemic, sizable shares of the US college student population had trouble covering their basic needs, including food, housing, childcare, and transportation. Women in college are 7 percentage points more likely than male students to experience basic needs insecurity. ECMC Foundation envisioned a collaborative way for institutions to address basic needs among college students and developed and funded a cohort of grantees dedicated to advancing solutions on students’ basic needs. As the movement to address basic needs gains momentum, ECMC Foundation has shared learnings of this work so far.

Investing in Women Innovators

Less than three percent of all venture capital funding in recent years went to startups founded by women. Since launching in 2018, Education Innovation Ventures, ECMC Foundation’s program-related investment portfolio, has directed capital to female entrepreneurs with innovative solutions in the education technology space – 67% of our portfolio companies were founded by women. Education Innovation Ventures and its partner Chloe Capital have also collectively invested $1.5 million in women-led early-stage ventures, providing female entrepreneurs with critical seed capital to grow their business.

ECMC Foundation envisions a future where all learners unlock their fullest potential. By investing in women as students and leaders, we are actively working to realize this future.

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