THE START OF SOMETHING UNIQUE
In 1984, a grassroots effort began in Northwest Arkansas to provide financial assistance and personal support to low-income single parents. Founders Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe and Ralph Nesson recognized a growing need in their community – that of single parents with no means of generating a family-supporting income, many with no employment skills or family support.
They set out to build an organization that would remove barriers to success for single parents, envisioning a holistic approach that included mentoring, developmental workshops and career coaching. These early efforts were immediately successful at helping single parents return to school, which in turn opened doors to better employment at living wages.
Motivated by the unprecedented results, a group of influential supporters and donors backed the program’s growth. In 1990, Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund was formed to implement the model statewide.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Today ASPSF serves all 75 counties in Arkansas (as well as Bowie County, Texas) and awards over $1.9 million in scholarships annually to hard-working single parents across the state. Follow-up reports show that over 90% of our scholarship recipients either stay in school or complete their programs each year.
Nearly three decades later, ASPSF has made great strides in:
- Developing a unique and powerful model with proven success in helping single parents escape poverty
- Increasing dignity and respect for single parents while increasing their children’s educational aspirations
- Expanding the state’s workforce in dozens of fields, and most particularly in education, health professions and business
- Assisting colleges, universities and trade schools in supporting good students, while increasing student retention and graduation rates among single parents
- Increasing awareness of an underserved population
- Influencing key legislation for non-traditional students