Although it wasn’t always this way, single motherhood is rapidly becoming a new “norm” in America. Whether or not this is due to the decrease in couples choosing to marry before having children or not, one thing is clear – single motherhood is unquestionably affecting family spending.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single mothers often spend over half of their income on housing expenses and a third on child care, leaving them with less money for educational expenses. To help combat this statistic, The Group Inc. has become a proud mission sponsor of United Way of Larimer County and Women’s Foundation of Colorado initiative, WomenGive.
WomenGive’s goal is to engage local women’s compassion, volunteerism & financial resources to bring changes to issues that affect both local women and girls. Knowing that education is an integral component of self-sufficiency, WomenGive chooses to make an impact by providing childcare scholarships each semester to local single parents continuing their education to build a better life for their family. One of this year’s recipients, Jewels, shares her story about the incredible difference this initiative has made in her family, career and education.
In Her Own Words: Jewels
“My name is Jewels and I am a single mother with four young children. My boys (ages 13, 11, and 5) love playing baseball in the summer and the older two play football in the fall. My 9 year old daughter is a gymnast and spends most of her time upside down. The three oldest are involved in Scouts and Tae Kwon Do. Additionally, we love to camp. I also have two adult children and a granddaughter. Needless to say, we are a very busy family!
Pursuing a secondary education hasn’t been easy for me. I divorced my ex-husband after he was arrested for domestic violence. Additionally, the father of my youngest child decided he wanted no parenting rights.
I started school in 2010 when “Monkey” (my youngest) was just a few months old. I first started going to school for paralegal studies, but because of the difficulty in finding somewhere to intern in Fort Collins, I decided I needed to change majors. I changed my degree to general studies to transfer to CSU, to pursue something that was more in my heart, such as working with families dealing with domestic violence.
Throughout the course of my education, I’ve found it difficult to afford quality childcare for my kids, especially “Monkey.” B.A.S.E. Camp eventually helped me with reduced childcare costs for my older children. I eventually had to drop many courses at Front Range and, in 2013, I had to drop a semester entirely. I thought I was going to have to put school on hold until all the kids were in school full-time.
Later, I applied and was accepted into CSU and I soon began my studies as a Human Development and Family Studies major. Before I transferred to CSU, I had earned a certificate in Paralegal Studies. Without adding any additional time to my educational timeline I was able to add a second major of Criminal Justice/Criminology using my elective credits. With these credentials, I am opening up the possibilities for an amazing career of working with families in the legal system.
Timing is truly everything. Two weeks after being accepted into CSU in the summer of 2013, I was accepted into Project Self-Sufficiency (PS-S). My PS-S advisor, Maggie, helped me apply for one of United Way of Larimer County’s WomenGive scholarships for “Monkey.”
The day I got my award letter was so exciting!
Right now, I’m on track to graduate in May 2016. Since starting, my GPA has risen steadily each semester, with a 4.0 this last semester, and no classes have been dropped. I have been able to accomplish this because I could attend school and not be concerned about whether or not I could pay for the next week’s childcare. I am not sure how to express the gratitude I feel when I think about the burden taken off of me because of this blessing from WomenGive. I am so very grateful!
United Way’s WomenGive program has done more for me than just help with childcare. Two semesters ago, my car needed some serious work. I was able to utilize the emergency assistance fund and get the repairs done, and continue with school. Also, whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, a card of encouragement from WomenGive randomly appears in my mailbox at the perfect time. I truly treasure each one of the cards I receive and reflect on them when needed.
WomenGive allows women who would otherwise not be able to attend school the ability to reach their goals of self-sufficiency. For me, it not only took away the financial burden, but it also took away reliance on my kids’ dads for childcare and gave me back the power to reach my goals. It is one of the greatest gifts I have received in a very long time.
To all those that donate to WomenGive, I hope you truly understand the blessing you have been in the lives of the recipients. I am sure I speak for most, if not all of us when I say that without your generosity, there would be many more families in our community who couldn’t obtain self-sufficiency. Thank you so much!” – Jewel
Since the initiative began in 2006, WomenGive has invested over one million dollars to help 510 childcare scholarships to 216 women and 291 children have benefitted from the quality childcare provided through these scholarships. In addition, 85 WomenGive scholarship recipients have graduated to date. To be selected for this award, the WomenGive Scholarship committee reviews closely whether or not a candidate is a continuing WomenGive recipient in good standing, whether the applicant demonstrates initiative through accomplishments, application form and nomination letter, whether or not she has a well thought out educational and career path, one’s graduation date, cumulative GPA, total semester credits and cost of childcare. Here is an infographic that shares the impact the organization can have on the community.