How to break the cycle of poverty with education

How to break the cycle of poverty with education

JRF | Dec 07 2012 |  · · ·  Tags: jrf news, poverty, education

“It’s irrefutable. There’s no question that there’s a connection between the stresses of living in poverty and poor academic performance,” says Neil Shorthouse, president, state director and cofounder of Communities in Schools of Georgia (CISGA).

As an organization that serves low-income women, this tie is abundantly clear. Most JRF scholars grew up in poverty and nearly half are the first in their families to attend college.

An article in Georgia Trend documents different experiences of people who grew up in poverty and how they now fight to increase access to education for others.

The article also discusses the cycle of poverty. Research shows that people who grow up in poverty are likely to stay in poverty. It’s a vicious cycle that continues generation after generation. (National Center for Children in Poverty)

The Communities in Schools network helps provide school supplies, clothing and other assistance to students. They report that 97.6% of the at-risk students they served stayed in school or graduated. That’s incredible!

Something else to consider is that education of parents is a big indicator of child success. (Long-term Effects of Parents’ Education on Children’s Educational and Occupational Success)

At JRF, we hear from our scholars, who are women 35 and older, that they do homework with their kids, that now their sons and daughters are talking about college. Increasing access for adults is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty.

2012 JRF scholar Lecia says: “My educational pursuits have helped me better prepare my family for the future. It helped me to be an example to my children, teaching them that education is a major key to their success.”

What are your thoughts on education and the cycle of poverty?


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STEM Summit honors innovative women

JRF | Oct 17 2012 |

In a STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - summit in San Diego, the "Leading Women in STEM" were recognized for their work in science and technology fields. Honorees included Rachel Bondi, Chief of Mobile Innovations for CAA (a talent agency)and University of California Chancellor Linda Katehi.

The awards salute these women who are advancing education initiatives across the state.

Currently, only 25% of STEM job in the US are held by women, and the business leaders, philanthropists, educators and nonprofits that came together on October 16 want to change that.

Here at JRF, we recognize the importance of having more women in STEM fields. Recently, we partnered with Caterpillar to host a breakfast event for local leaders to learn more about the opportunities STEM fields provide for women.

Read more about the summit here: and here:

What do you think about the future of women in STEM?


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JRF scholar brings music to the masses

JRF scholar brings music to the masses

JRF | Sep 06 2012 |

With help from a community member and Downtown South Bend Inc (DTSB), Bau Graves, the executive director of Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, visited South Bend. JRF scholar and musician, Kellirae Boann, attended and was inspired to take a leading role in starting a similar organization that’s dedicated to celebrating and sharing music with every member of the community.

“In October, something happened that has directed my path since. It all started with a South Bend community member who visited The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. That grassroots effort (the Old Town School) grew to what are now four locations and a driving cultural and economic force.

In the weeks after the presentation, three of us, with the unflagging and immeasurable support of DTSB, began to meet regularly and breathe life into what has become an incredibly collaborative enterprise.

We all started talking to anyone who would listen to collect ideas, hear stories, gain input, build a volunteer base, meet people in all areas of the community, etc. It was invigorating, educational, and downright fun. And everyone, EVERYONE, we talked to got excited about this idea.

By February, we were ready to make a presentation to attract potential board members. From that evening, and the networking that ensued, we now have an eleven-member board of directors including representatives from two local universities. That presentation also inspired an attorney (another musician!) to step up and provide crucial services pro bono. Through his efforts, we have incorporated with the state as a non-profit and filed a 93 page document applying for 501(c )(3) status. Additionally, I am very pleased to report that I have been appointed executive director.

Life is full, busy, and adventurous right now. If someone had told me I would be helping to start and run a non-profit.... well, I don't know what I would have thought.  As it is, it feels like it is exactly where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.  Is it risky? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Am I up for it? Without a doubt.

Every step of the way, I was reminded that JRF believed in me and had my back. The image of many strong, empowered women (in big hats!) standing behind me and holding the space when I felt discouraged or frightened gave me the resolve and courage to continue toward the goal of a college degree and to follow the path beyond.”

Kellirae finished her coursework in December 2011 and walked across the stage in May as a college graduate. A musician and artist, she enjoys singing with her band, Everyday People, and throwing pottery. Learn more about this incredible new nonprofit - The Music Village - and stop by if you’re near South Bend!"


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Debt vs. Better Lives Through Education

JRF | May 31 2012 |

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) evaluated federal government data and found that single parents who are attending college have the highest level of student debt.

“Single student parents have 20-30%  more debt than other students one year after graduation. Ten years after graduation, they still owed more than 3x as much debt as their classmates.”

Scholarships are vital for these students. Many JRF scholars are parents, and most are single parents. Education is one of the best ways out of poverty, but without scholarships and grants, it does the opposite.

"With adequate aid and support for nontraditional students, colleges and universities -- especially community colleges -- can be an affordable and effective ways for student parents to obtain skills and credentials that lead to stable, better-paying employment,” Kevin Miller, Senior Research Associate at IWPR, said.

Students at for-profit schools have average loans that are 10x greater than those at community colleges.

Barbara Gault, Vice President and Executive Director of IWPR, mentioned the multi-generational benefits that education has in the families of parent students. This is something we hear quite often from JRF scholars.

Tina, a JRF scholar, says, “By continuing my education, I am conveying a message to my children that we should strive for excellence.” Her daughters are growing up seeing how important higher education is, and now have their own dreams for pursuing degrees.

Make a difference for this group by supporting scholarship organizations like JRF that target nontraditional, low-income students. \"Your donations\": can mean the difference between student loan debt, and an education that breaks the cycle of poverty for families across America.

Download the report, Single Student Parents Face Financial Difficulties, Debt, Without Adequate Aid, to learn more.


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Amazing gift from New York

JRF | May 03 2012 |

In the midst of all the High Hat Party craziness, a lot of other stuff was going on. One group of New Yorkers was researching women's scholarship organizations and preparing to make a gift to support access to higher education.

The employees of New York State Insurance Fund in White Plains established a Women's History Month Committee and held fundraisers throughout March.

They decided to donate the money to JRF. Melanie, the chair of the committee, said, "We were impressed that you assist low-income women who are returning to school."

We couldn't do it without amazing supporters around the country. Thank you NYSIF Women's History Month Committee!


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