CSMonitor.com Article: Educate both parents and their children

By Courtney E. Martin

The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

posted January 26, 2012 at 10:44 am EST

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The Jeremiah Program, a nonprofit organization that receives a combination of foundation, corporate, and private funding, first started in Minneapolis in 1998 with a mission of eradicating poverty. After much deliberation, the program adopted a model to serve single mothers. They are given free housing. (Women pay 30 percent of their income for rent, which averages $135 per month). And they get life skills and job training while their children are given early education opportunities – all over a two- to three-year period.

The success is startling. Women apply and enter the program earning an average of $8.39 an hour and leave with career-track employment, earning an average livable wage of $15-16 an hour. Ninety percent of program graduates maintain consistent employment, and 55 percent go on to obtain a four-year degree. Ninety-five percent of alumnae mothers report that their children are performing at or above grade level. Jeremiah Program’s goal is to have a presence in 12 cities by 2020.

How expensive is it to get these kinds of results? Jeremiah Program’s cost per family is approximately $25,000 annually. That may sound like a lot, until one considers the alternatives. This same population – without a comprehensive, two-generation approach – is typically served piecemeal and at considerable cost to the public.

A poor, single mother and her child are often likely to utilize, for example, out-of-home placement (foster care, temporary guardianships) and chemical dependency treatment. They are also often likely to have encounters with the criminal justice system, require emergency room service, and need ongoing welfare support. In addition to being punitive and largely unsuccessful in breaking cycles of poverty, this kind of scatter shot government intervention is estimated to cost as much as $98,000 per family annually. That means that taxpayers save $6 for every one invested in Jeremiah families.”


Special Announcement: Gloria Perez Nominated for the 2012 Ruby Award!

Gloria Perez, Jeremiah Program

SI of Greater Minneapolis Ruby Award Winner:
Gloria Perez

The Greater Minneapolis club nominates Gloria Perez, President and CEO of Jeremiah Program for the 2012 Ruby Award. The Jeremiah Program provides affordable housing and services to help low-income, single-parent women achieve economic self-sufficiency. As one of its first staff members, Gloria helped design the program, which helps women create more stable lives for themselves and their children.

Gloria came to the program in May of 1998 from Casa de Esperanza, an organization devoted to ending domestic violence in Latino families. She began working there as a volunteer children’s advocate during her college years and in 1995 became executive director of Casa de Esperanza, serving for three years before joining The Jeremiah Program.

She brings more than twenty years of management, supervision, and leadership experience to her present position. Gloria has played a critical role in enabling participants to secure living-wage jobs and establish solid foundations for their families. She has also guided the organization through several stages of growth. What started as a single campus serving 18 families in Minneapolis has expanded to include a second campus in St. Paul with plans to open facilities in Fargo, ND and Austin, TX.

Focus on the Betterment of Women and Children:  A major reason for the Greater Minneapolis club’s nomination centers on the alignment of Perez’s work with single mothers and their children and Soroptimist International’s mission to improve the lives of women and girls. The Jeremiah Program helps transform the lives of young single mothers by empowering them with the tools to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and negative influence and provide a better future for themselves and their children. The program combines a structured environment with high expectations for education and employment, and provides the guidance to help them succeed.

Gloria will help the Greater Minneapolis club kick off 2012 by speaking at our January meeting. She will share her mission and details on how the program is changing lives and making a positive impact on the future of the women and children who graduate from the Jeremiah Program. She will also provide opportunities for our club to get involved with the amazing work of the organization.

Community Leader:  Gloria Perez possesses experience in fundraising, strategic planning, and organizational excellence garnered as a leader and board member of community and non-profit organizations. She is a courageous and visionary leader who understands the value of giving back to the community. Gloria is a strong voice for women and infuses her rich cultural background into her committed professional involvement as an advocate for women, families, and people of color.

Her community service, volunteer work, and professional affiliations include:

  • Allina Health Systems Board of Directors
  • Minneapolis Foundation Board of Trustees
  • F.R. Bigelow Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation Board of Directors
  • Minneapolis Rotary #9
  • Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable

Civic & Advocacy Recognition:

  • Catharine Lealtald Service to Society Award

This award recognizes Macalester alumni of color who have used their education to distinguish themselves in service to the community.

  • Ellis Island Medal of Honor – 2008

Honorees are remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in
both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness
of their particular heritage.

  • Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts Council of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valley – 2009

This award honors and celebrates outstanding women whose professional accomplishments make them positive role models who inspire girls to achieve their own goals and dreams. They exemplify the Girl Scout Promise and Law through ethical leadership and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens through community service.

  • Citizen of the Year Award from the Minneapolis University Rotary Club

This award recognizes a Twin Cities leader who has provided leadership resulting in a profound benefit to residents of Minneapolis, has taken risks to achieve beneficial change, and whose personal life expresses values that would serve as a model for current and future generations of citizens.

  • Unsung Hero Award from Women Venture – 2009

This lifetime achievement award honors women for their exceptional contributions.

SI of Greater Minneapolis is proud to submit Gloria Perez to the North Central Region nomination committee.

Soroptimist International of Greater Minneapolis
Improving the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.

514 Lake Ridge Drive
Shoreview, MN 55126