History


Major Milestones

  • We've provided more than 45 thousand scholarships worth over $27 million.

  • We’ve developed a unique and powerful model with a strong reputation for helping single parents escape poverty.

  • Our family of Affiliates and volunteers provide scholarships and support in all 75 counties of Arkansas each year.

  • Our work has increased dignity and respect for Single Parents while increasing their children’s educational aspirations.

  • Our work has increased awareness of an underserved population. We’ve influenced key legislation for non-traditional students.

  • We’ve expanded the state’s workforce in dozens of fields, and most particularly in education, health professions and business.

  • We’ve assisted colleges, universities and trade schools in supporting good students, while increasing student retention and graduation rates among Single Parents.

GuideStar Silver Seal of Transparency

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 2017 scholarship recipients revealed that 87% of our students stayed in school or completed their programs. 65% of our graduates were employed full-time within 3-6 months of graduation, and 90% of our working graduates earned above-poverty wages.

An agency on the move

Thanks to the support of our many dedicated donors, 2016 and 2017 were years of significant growth and development for ASPSF. We completed an in-depth 3-year review of our programs and services. We learned that our service model, virtually unchanged since our beginnings in 1990, no longer had the impact Arkansas needed. This has led to a re-envisioning of our organization, called 'ASPSF 2.0'. We began implementing the changes in 2018.

ASPSF 2.0 Phase 2 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 are doing more to attract a higher number of qualified applicants. And, we are doing more to reach those single parents who have a dream to get a better education but aren't sure how. We are developing a safety net for these single parents, providing both scholarships and support to insure they stay with us through completion. We plan to fully implement our new vision by 2021.

So far, we've rolled out five new regional service areas and plan to roll out 2 more regions in 2019. This regional approach will be more effective by using various committees and work groups to provide standardized and better quality programming consistently statewide. No matter where a student lives, s/he will have the same opportunity for scholarship as any other eligible applicant. Once the semester begins, our trained volunteers will stay in touch with each student, providing important moral and emotional support. We will also provide special programming according to demand and the needs of the student population to teach job acquisition skills and “soft skills”. These training opportunities will be designed to also help elevate student confidence and self-esteem.

Whether you look at the county or state level, or at one region of Arkansas or another, 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.