Jeremiah Program Mission and History

Mission and History

Our Mission

Jeremiah Program is a national organization with a mission to disrupt the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children, two generations at a time. When a mother invests simultaneously in her personal and professional goals and the education of her children, she can re-author her family’s outcomes and act as a change agent within her community. We know this because we see the proof points every day in our classrooms and on our campuses.

Our Vision

JP envisions a world where poverty is no longer feminized; where race is not divorced from gender; where career and financial opportunities are not gentrified; and where women who experience poverty not only hold a seat at the table but hold the mic and curate the agenda.

About JP

Jeremiah Program offers one of the nation’s most successful strategies for disrupting poverty, two generations at a time. At JP, we believe that no mother should have to make the untenable choice between investing in herself or supporting her children. Our holistic approach invites single mothers into the leadership tent and encourages families to bring all of their identities to bear in achieving their goals.

Founded in 1993, JP is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with campuses in nine cities nationwide. As demand for the JP model increases, we are expanding in new cities with both residential and non-residential models.

Our History

Jeremiah Program was founded in 1993 by Michael J. O’Connell, in partnership with city and community leaders in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first JP campus opened and began serving families in 1998 and was expanded in 2002. The expansion continued in 2007 with the opening of our St. Paul campus. JP Austin began serving families in 2013 and opened a residential campus in 2017. That same year, we broke ground in Fargo-Moorhead and opened the doors to families in 2018. And, in 2020, JP established the Rochester campus, serving Rochester and Southeast Minnesota. A new phase of expansion began when JP opened non-residential campuses in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2016; in Brooklyn, New York, in 2017; and in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Baltimore, Maryland, in 2022.

Today, JP is a national thought leader on generational poverty and the systemic barriers facing single-parent families. Our success lies in our commitment to meeting the moment, addressing structural inequities, and following the leadership of women most proximate to the issues of early childhood education, college access, income inequality and affordable housing. As we seek opportunities to expand our impact, we also continuously seek input from the communities we serve because we know they hold within them the knowledge and experience to create sustainable solutions.

Past Leadership

At the time of our founding in 1993, Michael J. O’Connell was the Rector of the Basilica of Saint Mary in downtown Minneapolis. O’Connell worked with city leaders to engage the community in breaking the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children,  assembling stakeholders from the business, education, government, philanthropy and faith communities to move the vision forward. He remains a vocal advocate and supporter of Jeremiah Program, and the namesake of our legacy fund, The Michael J. O’Connell Society. 

Gloria Perez was the founding Executive Director of the Jeremiah Program and served as the organization’s president and CEO from 2009 until 2019. Under her leadership, JP expanded not only its structure and programming but also grew from a local organization to a national voice advocating for single mothers and their children. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Perez brought her lived experience as a Latina and her innovative gender and racial equity analysis to bear in all aspects of her influential work.

former governing Board Chairs

Sandra Davis, MDA Leadership Consulting
Nevin Harwood, Gray Plant Mooty (Retired)*
Doisey Landry, Community Volunteer*
Sue Hayes, Community Volunteer
John McMahon, Ernst & Young
Michael J. O’Connell, Visionary Founder
John D. Potter, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Susan Sands, S&B Properties
Richard Schmoker, Schmoker Family Foundation*
Jeff Smith, Ryan Companies US, Inc.
Bill Svrluga, Before Racism*
Kim Vanderwall, Vanderwall Consulting
Sandy Santana, Children’s Rights
*Chair prior to 2009 expansion