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Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ISPSF)

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Available to those living in Independence County, the ISPSF program provides financial assistance to single parents. The scholarship can be used to cover emergencies - barriers that often keep single parents from attending school or may cause them to drop out of school. Each participant is provided counseling and referrals in the program as they continue their college education.

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

In recognition of the severe impoverishment of single-parent families in Arkansas, the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund was established in 1990. Modeled on successful incentive scholarship funds in two northwest Arkansas counties, the goal of the ASPSF is to assist poor single parents to complete their post-secondary education in preparation for skilled employment. Our strategy is to work at the county level to organize affiliate scholarship funds operated by local residents and provide on-site assistance with all phases of affiliate development. The ASPSF offers seed grants to new affiliates and annual matching grants to existing affiliates.

The ASPSF is a private, nonprofit corporation with 501(c)3 status granted by the Internal Revenue Service. Governed by a twenty-one member board of directors representing Arkansas' racial, economic, and geographic diversity, the ASPSF headquarters in Springdale has a three member staff in Northwest Arkansas, and three staff members living and working in the Delta and Central/West-Central region.

Currently, affiliate organizations representing 70 counties in Arkansas administer Single Parent Scholarships to deserving single parents. As of June 1, 2011, these affiliates awarded a combined total of 27,759 scholarships worth $15,182,754 since 1990. A comprehensive recipient follow-up study completed in 2009 revealed an 85% retention and graduation rate and a 67% employment rate at above poverty-level income among working graduates. The report also found that another 32% of students who graduated from post-secondary programs were continuing in a Bachelor's or Master's degree program.

A Delta Scholarship Project was initiated in 2000 to spur an increase in scholarship awards available in eastern Arkansas. As of June 1, 2011, Delta-region affiliates awarded a combined total of 6,103 scholarships worth $2,572,944 since 1990. Funding of this initiative has been provided by private foundations, businesses, individuals, and the Arkansas Office of Community Services.

The concept of a community-based scholarship fund aimed at encouraging and supporting the educational and training aspirations of impoverished single parents has been well accepted. Local leaders have so enthusiastically supported this opportunity to help these single mothers and fathers attain self-sufficiency that they have brought hundreds of volunteers into service on governing boards of directors. These volunteers have set eligibility guidelines for scholarships, recruited applicants, generated publicity, chosen recipients, and raised money in match of ASPSF grants. Seventy-five percent (75%) of all dollars awarded through our program derives from contributions made by local businesses, civic organizations, churches, family foundations, and individuals.

In recognition of the need to create a permanent source of financial support for the organization, the Harvey and Bernice Jones Charitable Trust, through a challenge grant program, enabled the ASPSF to establish a permanent endowment in 2002 that now exceeds $1.5 million dollars.

Thirteen percent (13%) of all Arkansas families are led by women with no husband or father in the home. It is estimated that this figure represents over 103,000 families, of which 47% were officially below the poverty line (2005-2009 American Community Survey) in 2009. If the trend of increasing impoverishment of women and children continues, there will be more need than ever for education and training opportunities for single parents. The ASPSF is in the vanguard of meeting this need.

Head Start

Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.NADC added Head Start to its program curriculum in 1968. The program is structured so as to serve the total child, which means the child’s physical and mental health, educational needs, speech abilities, dental condition and parent’s needs. The children in this program are three to five years old.

LIHEAP

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low income households, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs. 

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides assistance to low income families to help them pay their utility bills.  Emphasis is placed on helping pay winter fuel bills.

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