Single Mom Scholars

A Two-Generation Approach to Mitigating Generational Poverty

As part of our Self-Sufficiency programs at Interfaith Community Services, Single Mom Scholars is a support program that empowers low-income single moms to become successful college graduates by providing a network of support through financial assistance, practical services and a peer community. Our collaborative approach enables single moms to compete in the market place, improve the quality of life for their children, and positively impact our local community and economy.

The SMS Application Portal is now open:

If you are having a problem submitting your application, it might be that you are already in ICS’s system under another program. Our system does not like duplicates. Please add /SMS to your last name and try submitting again. You can also email us at singlemomscholarsinfo@icstucson.org and we can troubleshoot with you.


Making The Case

Children of single mothers are five times more likely to be raised in poverty than children from two-parent families. Further, 89% of Arizona’s low-income single mothers with young children only have a high school education (Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona).

National efforts to mitigate poverty have been focused on a single population—either parents or children, but rarely both at the same time, and it is not working. Two-generation approaches to improving the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of families are finally gaining national attention and momentum.

Program Overview

Single Mom Scholars (SMS) at Interfaith Community Service is a pioneer in the efforts to break the cycle of poverty through its two-generation approach. Through support and wrap-around services, SMS empowers low-income single moms to earn a college degree while simultaneously working with their children to gain social capital, build leadership skills, and improve academic performance.

Studies have shown that low-income families with minor children face extra barriers that can affect the early years of a child’s development. An investment in these women is also an investment in their children, providing essential family stability, and expanding the life outlook of these vulnerable youth by inspiring successful role modeling. In the course of the SMS program, 70 children have been positively impacted, through community engagement, educational enrichment and leadership opportunities.

How We Help

Single moms face the significant challenges of juggling school, family and work. These challenges often converge and can lead to dropping out of school. We facilitate success by providing the following program benefits:

For Scholars

  • Peer Support and Community Building
  • Financial Assistance
  • Help with additional support such as laptops, car repairs, AAA membership and other support as needed over the course of the program
  • Life Skills and Financial Literacy Education
  • Life Coaching
  • Professional and Personal Development

For Children

  • Back-to-School Supplies
  • College Preparation
  • Educational Enrichment
  • Extracurricular and Athletic Participation
  • Holiday Gifts
  • Leadership and Personal Development
  • Tutoring

Who We Assist

Single moms currently enrolled in an accredited College or University who are carrying nine credit hours, maintaining a 2.5 GPA and earning an adjusted gross income at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines. Participants must also reside in Pima County and have at least one child under the age of 11.

Proven Results

To date, SMS has graduated 26 women, earning 28 degrees, with a current total average annual starting salary of $50,000 (and up to $82,000), earning 5x more within a year of graduation. This represents $660,000 per scholar or $17.1 million gain over the course of a lifetime going back to the Arizona economy with just 26 graduates. (College Success Arizona). More than 90% of Single Mom Scholars graduate with an average 3.4 GPA.

A strong and resilient economy requires a prepared workforce, stable communities and thriving families. An investment in these women and their children is the only way to create sustainable change for the betterment of our community and nation.

Do you have questions about our program?

Contact us at singlemomscholarsinfo@icstucson.org.

The Single Mom Scholars program is supported by the Davis S. and Norma R. Lewis Foundation, the Marshall Foundation, and many generous individuals.