Friday, November 27, 2015

TOP STORY >> Single parents helped

Leader staff writer

The Single Parent Scholar-ship Fund in Pulaski County has a new director, and her goal is to spread the word about resources available for local moms and dads, in addition to making sure the nonprofit is meeting needs.

The program supports high-potential, low-income single parents who are new or current students seeking college degrees, according to executive director Lori Lynch.

The Pulaski County program was established in 1991 and has awarded $1.3 million to over 1,900 students, according to its website.

The exciting news right now is that money is available to accept Spring 2016 students, Lynch continued. She also touted the county program’s 92 percent success rate.

Applications for the up-coming semester are available at The deadline for those is Dec. 31.

Eligibility requirements include being Pell Grant eligible and enrolled full time. An interview is part of the application process.

There are around 40 parents in the program now, but it can handle up to 70, Lynch continued. Once accepted, the students must maintain a 2.5 GPA.

Several current recipients are from the Jacksonville area, the director said, and “we’re always looking to grow.”

Many generous donors support the program’s mission.

The organization’s scholars must also attend a partner school. The partner schools are Arkansas Baptist College, ASU-Beebe (the Little Rock Air Force Base campus), Baptist Health College, Harding University (the North Little Rock campus), John Brown University (the Little Rock campus), Park University (the LRAFB campus), Philander Smith College, Pulaski Technical College, University of Arkansas at Little Rock and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

What exactly does the nonprofit offer to those moms and dad raising children all on their own?

According to its website, the organization conducts workshops in financial literacy, communication and leadership, personal management and professionalism and polish. Career counseling is also offered. To find out more, attend an SPSF:101 class. Contact the nonprofit at 501-301-7773 for details.

Lynch described the fund as having a multi-pronged approach of which supplemental financial assistance is only one piece.

According to the Pulaski County nonprofit’s website, “recipients receive $2,700 per year ($900 each fall, spring, summer semester) to help with tuition, fees, books, day care, rent or mortgage, utility assistance, professional dues, testing fees, transportation needs, diapers, even food.”

The wrap-around benefits, Lynch said, include those in the program socializing and networking with other single parents who are experiencing the same hardships and triumphs.

The county organization is one of many under the umbrella of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. The state program’s website states, “Nearly one in five Arkansas families are led by single parents, of which 76 percent are single mothers. An estimated 55 percent of single-parent families are officially below the poverty line.”

Lynch said she believes in what the Pulaski County organization is doing because, not only does it help single parents lead better lives, but gives a hand up out of poverty to their children.

Those children, following the good example set by the program’s scholars, become successful adults, Lynch emphasized.