Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) board members, donors and staff met this past week to celebrate 25 years of service helping to improve the quality of life for single parents in the state. The event was held in the Great Hall, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, Monday, October 19.
Statistically, 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.
“We believe single-parent families that are led by skilled and educated mothers and fathers have a much greater opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency and a better quality of life, generation after generation,” the website noted. “A skilled workforce also helps the economic condition of our communities and boosts our state’s ability to compete in the global market,” the narrative continued.
Since its inception in 1990, ASPSF has helped over 38,000 single parents attain higher education opportunities and funded over $22 million in higher education scholarships to assist low-income single parents complete their post-secondary education in preparation for skilled employment.
A comprehensive follow-up study completed in 2014 showed an 88 percent retention and graduation rate by scholarship recipients. Those scholarship recipient graduates now reflect a 67 percent employment rate at above poverty level income among working graduates.
Thirty-three percent of scholarship recipients who graduated from post-secondary programs continued in school to further their education, an added benefit to the scholarship recipient families and to the state, statistics show.
There are currently affiliate organizations in all 75 counties being served by a team of four field representatives who live and work in different regions of the state. The southwest Arkansas region is represented by Jamie Marshall, who lives in Dierks.
Marshall noted that since ASPSF is a 501 ( c ) 3 corporation, all money collected at both the state and affiliate levels are completely tax deductable. Moreover, any money collected through donations, gifts or fund raisers are matched by grants from the state organization.
Scholarships are funded in various amounts, depending on the local affiliate’s fundraising success. Scholarship amounts range from approximately $500 per semester to as much as $1,000 per semester. Normally, scholarships are renewed as long as a student notifies the local affiliate of plans to continue for another semester and maintains a 2.5 grade point average (gpa).
The program was devoted to honoring the students who have achieved their education goals and to thank sponsors and contributors, as well as volunteers and board members, who make the program successful. ASPSF is governed by a diverse board comprised of 21 members from across the state. These volunteers give their time and service to help meet the goal of improving the lives of scholarship recipients and the lives of generations following the recipients by helping them those students achieve their educational goals.
Hundreds of volunteers throughout the state serve on local affiliate’s boards or work on fund-raising events each year.
Additionally, county affiliates raise funds through projects directed by the local organization’s volunteer board. All monies raised locally are matched by the ASPSF through a series of match and challenge grants funded by corporations and individuals.
As scholarship funding continues to grow, more students are able to benefit from the program. In Montgomery County, seven students received $3,250 in scholarships in the first year of operation (2000), while the amount grew to $3,750 in 2015.
Overall, 200 students in Montgomery County have benefited from scholarship help in the amount of slightly more than $95,176..
Howard County entered the scholarship program in 2007 with two awards in the amount of $500 each. The total for 2015 was $3,750 in awards, shared by 9 students. The total awards for the program since its beginning has now reached $26,802 and has benefitted 66 single parents.
Pike County Single Parent Scholarship Fund began operating as a part of Clark County SPSF beginning in 2010. Prior to that time the program was a standalone project. Guidelines for Pike County call for funding to be awarded through grants from Entergy and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE).
One Pike County single parent received a $500 scholarship in 2010 while three students shared $949 in 2015. The total funding for Pike County Single Parent Scholarships has been $49,629 since the beginning of the program.
Scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 2016 spring semester, according to Marshall. Deadlines and scholarship amounts for Montgomery County are due by January 10, 2016 in the following amounts: Full time (12+ hours), $600 and part-time (11-hours or less) $300.
Howard County student applications must be submitted by Dec. 1, 2015. Full-time students (12 hours or more) $500 and part-time (less than 12-hours) $250.
Pike County student applications are due by Feb. 15, 2013. Funds for these scholarships are divided evenly from funding by ADHE and Entergy. Presently, ADHE contributes $687.12 and Entergy $500. If only one student applies from Pike County the entire amount is awarded to that student.
More information can be found on the ASPSF website at: www.aspsf.org. Both scholarship applications and contribution information are linked for online use.