A Two-Generation Approach to Mitigating Generational Poverty
As part of our Self-Sufficiency programs at Interfaith Community Services, Single Mom Scholars is a comprehensive scholarship 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. SMS assists single mothers, who demonstrate academic excellence, with a network of support, financial assistance, practical services, and a peer community.
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.
Single Mom Scholars (SMS) at Interfaith Community Service is pioneer in the efforts to break the cycle of poverty through its two-generation approach. Through scholarships 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.
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:
Current single mom college students 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. Participant must also reside in Pima County and have at least one child under the age of 11.
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.