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Single Parents Breaking Barriers Through Higher Education

As we approach National Single Parents Day on March 21, it is imperative to shine a light on the extraordinary journey of single parents across the United States. Their resilience, determination, and strong commitment to their families serve as an inspiration to us all. At Generations College, nestled in the heart of Chicago, we have witnessed firsthand the life-changing power of education for single parents.

Dr. Grace Alexis StephensDr. Grace Alexis StephensGenerations College boasts a 120-year rich legacy of providing accessible and high-quality education to campus-based and online students from diverse backgrounds across 40 states.

In 2019, we proudly launched the Single Parent Scholarship initiative, which provides financial assistance and support services to single parents who aspire to earn a college degree. This scholarship has proven instrumental in dismantling barriers and creating avenues for single parents to realize their academic and career pursuits.

As the third oldest two-year, private nonprofit college in the nation, we have been at the forefront of innovation in education since our founding in 1904. From pioneering the premier court reporting program in the country to founding the first paralegal studies program in the state of Illinois and launching a new business administration and entrepreneurship program with an emphasis on AI, Generations College has a history of breaking new ground and shaping the future of education.

Through the Single Parent Scholarship initiative, Generations College has empowered hundreds of single parents to pursue their educational dreams without the burden of financial constraints. Our mini-documentary, "Single Parents: All Eyes On You," offers a poignant glimpse into the life of one of our incredibly inspirational single parents, Bernard Thomas.

Bernard's journey, as portrayed in the documentary, stands as a testament to the strength and persistence of single parents nationwide. His story resonates deeply with countless single parents striving to forge a brighter future for themselves and their children. Bernard’s remarkable achievements amidst the adversities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic serve as a beacon of hope for single parents everywhere and a reminder that all things can be accomplished by faith, hard work, and determination. The documentary gives insight into Bernard's relentless drive, his journey into single parenthood, and his profound joy in nurturing his children. The success stories of our single-parent graduates depict the college’s commitment to empowering this essential and continuously expanding group of people to break the cycle of poverty and establish a legacy of success by earning a college degree.

In this season of recognition, as the nation celebrates National Single Parents Day, let’s examine the statistical landscape surrounding single parents and the impact of education on their lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States, responsible for raising 22 million children. Of these single parents, only 32% hold a college degree or higher, while 65% have completed high school or less. Further analysis reveals that single parents with a college degree are more likely to secure stable employment opportunities and higher incomes than their counterparts without higher education credentials.

Research conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research highlights that single mothers with a degree earn significantly higher annual incomes than those with only a high school diploma, indicating the profound economic benefits associated with higher education attainment among single parents. Investing in the education of single parents not only enhances their prospects for socioeconomic advancement but also yields substantial societal benefits. A National Women's Law Center report emphasizes that increasing educational opportunities for single parents can lead to enhanced workforce participation, reduced poverty rates, and improved outcomes for children. Fundamentally, the correlation between earning a college degree and the well-being of single parents is undeniable.

In conclusion, when we invest in the education of single parents, we not only uplift individual lives but also contribute to the collective prosperity and well-being of society as a whole. Generations College is dedicated to empowering single parents and breaking barriers through education. By fostering a supportive environment conducive to student success, Generations College and institutions like ours empower single parents to realize their full potential and chart a course toward a better future for themselves and their families. As we honor the resilience and determination of single parents on National Single Parents Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting their educational endeavors and making their dreams of changing many lives by earning a college degree a reality.

Dr. Grace Alexis Stephens is chancellor of Generations College in Chicago, Illinois.

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