As a young parent and student at William & Mary, Nicole Lynn Lewis ’03 balanced attending classes and completing assignments with the additional challenges of changing diapers, searching for reliable child care and worrying about how to pay for food and housing. Through Generation Hope, the nonprofit she founded in 2010, Lewis connects students in similar circumstances with peers, mentors and financial and emotional support to help them reach their higher education goals, and she advocates nationally for parenting college students. To date, the Generation Hope Scholar Program has worked with more than 300 young parents, provided over $1 million in tuition assistance and celebrated 173 degrees earned.
Nicole’s efforts have received a significant boost from several high-profile grants and from response to her autobiographical book, Pregnant Girl: A Story of Teen Motherhood, College, and Creating a Better Future for Young Families, named one of NPR’s top 2021 picks for memoirs. Since 2021, the nonprofit has partnered with more than a dozen higher education institutions around the country through its FamilyU program to better accommodate parenting students and improve graduation rates, reaching nearly 60,000 degree seekers. Generation Hope received a multimillion-dollar donation in 2023 from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to support the organization’s efforts to accelerate economic mobility for families. Generation Hope’s Scholar Program has now expanded to New Orleans, its first location outside the Washington, D.C., area, to reach a region with some of the nation’s highest teen birth rates.
Learn more about Nicole
- Read a W&M Alumni Magazine online exclusive.
- Watch her W&M Writers of Washington conversation with Chon Glover M.Ed. ’99, Ed.D. ’06, W&M’s chief diversity officer, and Mariana Eraña Salmerón ’21, a former Generation Hope intern through the W&M Washington Center.
- Listen to her interview on the Office Hours With EAB podcast Are You Treating Student-Parents as a Liability or Asset?
- Read her interview with Ebony magazine.