By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
The Phil Hardin Foundation in Meridian awarded a $150,000 grant to the Women's Fund of Mississippi to improve education for single parents and their children, officials announced Wednesday.
The grant will make it possible for the Women’s Fund to implement a new initiative, the Two-Generation Approach, with five community colleges in Mississippi to provide quality daycare to the child of a single parent enrolled at the school.
The five participating community colleges are Meridian, Copiah-Lincoln, Mississippi Delta, Northeast and Pearl River.
Data indicates that the likelihood that a single parent will succeed in earning a college degree and become self supporting are much greater when there is access to quality daycare, The Phil Hardin Foundation CEO Rebecca Combs-Dulaney said.
At the same time, the child is exposed to high quality early childhood education — a main area of focus for The Phil Hardin Foundation — which increases his or her chances of later succeeding in school, Combs-Dulaney said.
The Women’s Fund has established a collaborative relationship with the Community College Board to provide tuition support and wrap-around services such as early childhood education, transportation and health services to eligible young student-parents and their children.
The program is based on a report by the Aspen Institute's Ascend program which supports providing educational opportunities to both parent and child as a means of lifting families out of poverty.
“After learning about this approach at the Aspen Institute Ascend conference in October, I’m convinced it can have a transformative impact on the families the Women’s Fund and the Hardin Foundation serve," Women's Fund of Mississippi Executive Director Carol Penick said in a press release. "Imagine a young single mother who is working toward a degree at her local community college where she can enroll her toddler in a high-quality child development center on the campus.
“I want to thank the Hardin Foundation for believing in our mission of economic security for women. When women are economically secure, safe and healthy, then families and communities are economically secure, safe and healthy.”
Two-generation programs have positive effects on the participation of children in early childhood programs and on the participation of their mothers in obtaining secondary and post-secondary education, according to a press release by the Women's Fund of Mississippi.
According to the press release, three features of the Two-Generation approach are that it provides:
• Developmentally appropriate early childhood education
• Parenting education
• Young adult education, job skills and training
This two-generation approach will increase the economic security of low-income women by creating opportunities that meet the needs of both vulnerable young mothers and their children, Penick said.
“It is an investment in educational opportunities for parents, their children and their communities across the state,” Penick said.
The Women’s Fund of Mississippi is the only grant-making and advocacy organization in the state dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls statewide by promoting social change and economic self-sufficiency, according to the press release.
The Women’s Fund of Mississippi is a member of the Women’s Funding Network, one of the largest collaborative philanthropic networks in the world with 160 funds and foundations that support women’s solutions across the globe. Since its formation, the Fund has invested over $2 million in programs for Mississippi women.
To learn more about the Women’s Fund of Mississippi and how you can provide support, visit www.womensfundms.org.