History


Major Milestones

  • A 25-year focused history with a strong reputation
  • An extensive affiliate system in place with dedicated volunteer workforce
  • Consistent long-term donors
  • High levels of annual retention and graduation among scholarship recipients
  • Over 41K and $24M in scholarships granted since 1990
  • Serves students in every county of Arkansas
  • Sustainability through a $2M endowment
  • Influenced key pieces of Arkansas legislation related to welfare and education

The start of something unique

Our program formed from twin efforts that began simultaneously in Benton and Washington counties in the mid 1980’s as all-volunteer organizations. These initial efforts were immediately successful at helping single parents return to school and acquire professional certificates or college degrees, which in turn opened doors to better employment at living wages. In 1990, ASPSF was formed to replicate this model statewide.

Where we are now

With support from a number of partners and donors, Single Parent Scholarship Funds statewide award well over $1.5 million in scholarships each year. A follow-up of our 2015 scholarship recipients revealed that 89% of our students stay in school or complete their programs each year. This is up from 2014 and 25% higher than the average graduation rate at public colleges and universities in Arkansas.

An agency on the move

Thanks to the support of our many dedicated donors, 2015 and 2016 were years of significant growth and development for ASPSF. We conducted a series of educational programs for affiliates, unveiled a new brand, and created greater consistency in policy and program implementation statewide. We also embarked on a self-evaluation and strategic planning process we’ve dubbed ‘ASPSF 2.0’ that will allow us to continue our growth and development over the next 25 years.

ASPSF 2.0 Phase 1 results

Through ASPSF 2.0 we have determined that, on average across the state, we are serving only about 10% of the single parents that could realistically be expected to participate in higher education. There is unmet need in every county, despite the fact that sometimes there is scholarship money left on the table at the end of each semester. So we are working to make our services more visible and accessible to those who need us. We must do more to attract a higher number of qualified applicants. And, we must do more to reach those single parents not already on a college campus, who dream of finishing school, but don’t see a way to manage the time or money commitments of family, work, and school. With our help they can do it! And, once they connect with us, once they see how our dual model of scholarships with support creates a safety net around each recipient, the vast majority of them stay with us through to graduation.

Whether you look at the affiliate level or the state office, or at the northwest, central or any other region of the state, it’s an exciting time to be involved with ASPSF. With 25 years of proven success behind us, a vast network of passionate volunteers, and faithful donors, you can be sure that our unique approach for advancing education and reducing poverty in Arkansas will benefit single parents for many years to come.

Our target for the next 25 years is to strengthen our ability to create and deliver a more powerful core program that puts students first! We’re seeking now to understand what our students want, what we can provide, what we’re truly the best at, and deliver this consistently at a greater scale.

We are working to identify potential partners and set the state to work with them to build a better support system for single parents. Building these close alliances will no doubt widen the positive impacts on single-parent families.