Partnership includes $25k grant and professional input to grow program for low-income single mothers
TUCSON, AZ, May 2, 2019 — More single mothers in Pima County will be able to earn a college degree as a pathway out of poverty, thanks to a new partnership between Single Mom Scholars (SMS) and Social Venture Partners (SVP) Tucson.
SVP Tucson, which invests in high-potential nonprofits to improve their performance, announced Monday a year-long program to provide a grant of $25,000 and the expertise of its partners to help SMS expand college scholarships to low-income single mothers and increase services to help their children.
SMS, which began four years ago as Helping Hands for Single Moms and is now part of Interfaith Community Services (ICS), provides a $3,600-a-year scholarship, as well as assistance ranging from auto repair to computer access, to qualified single mothers in Pima County to help them earn college degrees. SMS also offers their children tutoring, mentoring and life-skills coaching.
To date, the program has graduated 28 single mothers, who have gone from making an average of $9,000 a year when they entered the program, to an average of $50,000 within a year of earning their degree. Fully 90 percent of the single mothers who enter the program emerge with a degree. Currently there are 25 single mothers and 50 children in the program.
Lia Pierse, Self-Sufficiency Director of Interfaith Community Services who runs Single Mom Scholars, says the group wanted to partner with SVP Tucson to provide scholarships to more single mothers. She cited the sobering fact that one of four children in Pima County lives in poverty, and 79 percent of those children live in households headed by single mothers.
At the same time, Pierse said, Social Venture Partners can advise the best way to grow the program while maintaining its integrity and success.
“We have a very effective two-generation approach that helps both single moms and their children master education as a way out of poverty,” Pierse said. “While we grow to include more single mothers and children, we want to preserve the individualized, hands-on approach that has allowed us to be so successful to date.”
“That’s where SVP Tucson can help our Single Mom Scholars,” said Tom McKinney, CEO of Interfaith Community Services. “We want to tap into the group’s expertise in fields such as education, finance and business development to ensure Single Mom Scholars expands in a way that upholds the quality of service and the spirit of the mission.”
SVP Tucson CEO Ciara Garcia said the selection of Single Mom Scholars culminated a six-month long search for another local nonprofit that SVP can support with funding, expertise and professional volunteers. SVP Tucson currently has similar partnerships with local nonprofits JobPath and Higher Ground.
“This year we wanted to invest in an organization that truly exemplifies the goal of increasing educational attainment as a pathway out of poverty,” Garcia said. “We saw the success to date of Single Mom Scholars and the potential to grow the program to help more single mothers and their families as the perfect fit for our financial and professional resources.”
To qualify as a candidate for a scholarship, a single mother must live in Pima County; be a second semester student at an Arizona college or university; maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5; have at least one child under the age of 11; and have an income at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
For more information, contact:
Single Mom Scholars
About Single Mom Scholars
Single Mom Scholars (SMS) at Interfaith Community Services 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. Learn more at www.icstucson.org/single-mom-scholars.
About Social Venture Partners Tucson
Social Venture Partners Tucson builds powerful relationships among people and organizations that make our world a better place. We cultivate effective philanthropists, fund and strengthen nonprofits, and invest in collaborative solutions to social challenges. Learn more at www.socialventurepartners.org/tucson/.
About Interfaith Community Services
Established in 1985, Interfaith Community Services provides food, job assistance, and emergency financial assistance to Pima County residents in need and mobilizes volunteers to assist seniors and disabled individuals with Mobile Meals, transportation, home repairs, calls and visits, and health and safety referrals. From nutritious food to a ride to the doctor’s office, ICS assists nearly 37,000 people a year. For more information, visit www.icstucson.org.