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Since its inception, the WomenGive program of United Way of Larimer County has been a platform for women to empower other women by providing childcare scholarships to single mothers pursuing their college degree. However, an estimated 4,272 females in Larimer County do not have the high school diploma needed to achieve a higher degree.
Of these women, those who are single mothers face formidable barriers as current childcare costs average $15,600 per year for full-time infant care, which exceeds the median annual earning for female residents without a high school diploma ($13,590).
Thus, when the opportunity arose for WomenGive to expand its programmatic funding to support single mothers pursuing their high school education and a postsecondary certificate program through the Women in College Project, there was little debate.
“WomenGive has long been a critical program in our focus areas of Youth & Education and Financial Stability,” said Annie Davies, President and CEO of United Way of Larimer County. “By supporting the Women in College Project at Front Range Community College, we ensure that more single mothers receive the support they need to achieve self-sufficiency, and that their children receive quality early childhood education while they go to school.”
The Women in College Project is a concurrent enrollment program that provides single mothers with the opportunity to complete their high school equivalency and begin coursework toward a Career & Technical Education Certificate at Front Range Community College.
“Single mothers who do not have a high school diploma find themselves in an almost impossible situation,” said Margie Wagner, Director of the Front Range Community College Center for Adult Learning. “Lack of a basic education makes it difficult to find work that pays a sustainable wage. Without additional resources, they are unable to afford childcare to obtain the education they need to improve their circumstances. The Women in College Project makes it possible for single moms to obtain a High School Equivalency degree and begin their post-secondary training at the same time.”
This expanded partnership goes beyond the traditional WomenGive model, providing enhanced support for program participants in an effort to eliminate the barriers to a diploma. In addition to childcare assistance, WomenGive funding will provide scholarships that cover the cost of tuition and fees for up to six credits per year, textbooks and academic supplies. Additionally, participants will receive regular meetings with Front Range’s Single Parent Advisor, one-on-one academic tutoring, discounted bus passes and access to the campus food bank.
A total of five women will be supported through the Women in College Project, which began this fall. Once participants complete their high school equivalency, they will be coached to apply for federal financial aid and scholarships available to first-time college students to complete their certificate program. They will continue to work with local advisors and have access to support through the traditional WomenGive program.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County