It’s been proven in study after study: those with a college education earn more over a lifetime than those who only graduate high school. So we can read between the lines that Arkansas’ high poverty rate (4th in the nation) is a result of a population with relatively low educational achievement. One in five Arkansans live in poverty – and increases to more than 1 in 3 for those living in the Arkansas Delta. So it’s no wonder that almost 30% of Arkansas children are raised in poverty (as many as 51% of children living in some areas of the Arkansas Delta). (Aspire Arkansas, Arkansas Community Foundation, Oct. 2013)
What does it mean to grow up in a poor family?
Children who grow up in poverty have greater struggles with education than their peers. By the time they start kindergarten, they have already fallen behind. And by third grade, as many as 30% of them can’t read at a third-grade level. This gap only increases over time and even follows them into college – if they go to college. Children living in poverty are seven times more likely to drop out of high school than children not living in poverty.
Those who drop out of high school are ineligible for 90% of jobs. This makes it far more likely that these poor adults will also raise their own children in poverty. So the cycle continues into the next generation.
Breaking the cycle
Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) is unique – the only organization of its kind in Arkansas. We make a positive difference in the lives of impoverished families by assisting single parents who are enrolled in college or technical programs and are seeking better-paying careers. We focus our support on both, financial assistance and personal support. This not only helps improve the parent’s educational level and earning potential, but it also helps the parent improve the standard of living for themselves and their children. When the children see their parent studying and working hard for a degree, they see a value placed on education. They see post-secondary education as something “my family does” instead of thinking “my people don’t go on to school”. So our investment in each family also helps to shape the educational goals and career aspirations of the next generation.