Jeremiah Program Develops New Virtual Resources

The Future is Now

Jeremiah Program’s new virtual programming is more than a response to COVID-19. It’s an opportunity to provide services to more mothers and children, including those living in remote and rural areas. 

BY ADRIENNE VAN DER VALK

“We aren’t just treading water in this moment. We’re taking everything we’ve learned about disrupting generational poverty over the last two decades and making sure the structures we put in place equip us to support more moms and more kids quickly.” 

When Jeremiah Program president and CEO Chastity Lord wrote these words in an April 23 blog post, she wasn’t speaking rhetorically. Staff specializing in three different focus areas—child development, life-skills coaching, and virtual empowerment—have been laboring in the background for over a month, now, adapting Jeremiah Program’s signature community support and early childhood education pillars so they can continue to serve mothers and children during the pandemic and beyond. 

With Jeremiah Program staff now working from home, service providers from every campus have been meeting virtually via Zoom to design a new future—one that ensures the ability to serve more moms and kids in new communities. The programming they’re developing—and have now begun rolling out—is nimble, forward-thinking, and scalable. Scalability is important because, as Lord noted in her post, “More pockets of poverty are being created in our country than has been seen in our lifetimes.”

Implementing any kind of virtual programming relies on working devices and a stable internet connection; with this in mind, Jeremiah Program conducted a technology audit across all campuses, both residential and community-based. The audit specifically focused on having video capability so staff can see participants face-to-face—not just hear their voices. Through the support of local and national partners, JP has been able to quickly identify and fill technology gaps across all campuses, including purchasing laptops for every staff member and mother who needed one. Now, with stronger connectivity established, Jeremiah Program is taking the next step: implementing its new virtual programming initiatives.

Child Development 

Before the COVID pandemic, Jeremiah Program was already in the process of enhancing program coordination across all campus child development centers. Crystal Ward, an educational consultant who has been spearheading the implementation of this work, says the goal is to think of all Jeremiah Program early childhood centers as collaborative mini-school district. 

“We should be cascading efforts in such a way that allows increased capacity as well as increased collaboration,” Ward says. “And, so, taking all of the CDCs across the Jeremiah Program and thinking about ways in which we can share best practices and knowledge, as well as capacity, across all of our different sites to ensure all children are getting really top quality materials and guidance from their teachers.”

With the onset of the pandemic, collaborative work that was already underway both pivoted and accelerated. The child development staff quickly began writing, revising, and pushing out downloadable curriculum packets for all pre-K age groups. Mothers can use the activities in these packets to keep their children engaged in learning and key skill development using materials they can easily access at home. New activities will roll out every two weeks through the end of June, with feedback collected between batches to support a continuous improvement cycle. Teachers are checking in with students weekly via Zoom. 

“A lot of the day in early childhood is free play and social-emotional [learning],” says Rebecca Putzer, director of coordinated family services at the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. “We’re really trying to get our parents information and education around, ‘You don’t have to sit with your child for eight hours a day and do structured activities.’ That’s not what it’s about. And that’s not what it’s about in the classroom either. It’s bridging the home and classroom life. Luckily, at Jeremiah, we’ve been able to do that already. This is just a whole other layer.”

Jeremiah Program is also planning to post the lessons to the website so educators and parents outside the program can access the resources.

Life-Skills Coaching 

Because community is at the heart of Jeremiah Program, the inability to visit face-to-face posed a major service-delivery challenge for the virtual coaches. Several residence-based staff commented that they were used to seeing moms and kids every day. Many of their check-ins were informal; they had multiple opportunities each week to notice if someone was having a hard time or seemed particularly anxious about an issue in their lives. With this pattern so disrupted, a direct one-to-one translation of weekly in-person coaching to weekly online coaching was not going to adequately meet families’ needs, especially during a time of massive upheaval across multiple stressor areas.  

Coaches are now checking in with moms up to three times a week—sometimes more. At a minimum, each session addresses concerns related to employment status, school responsibilities (including looking ahead to registering for the fall), or any parenting challenges mothers may be facing (including identifying basic needs they are lacking, like diapers and formula). For all moms, especially those who have experienced domestic abuse, mental health issues, or chemical dependency, these touchpoints are an opportunity to connect and assess for any critical needs or safety issues. Depending on the need, a coaching session may involve talking through an unemployment application, troubleshooting how to respond to a child’s behavior issue, arranging to see a doctor for a medication adjustment, or any other conversation the circumstances call for. 

“I try to listen more and talk less in these meetings,” says Amy Klein, family services manager for Jeremiah Program’s Fargo, North Dakota, campus. “I try and make sure to at least hit those three areas [parenting, employment, and education] and then let them take the lead. Because, really, this is about them, and what their needs are, what they need from me, what they need from us as an organization.” 

Empowerment

Empowerment is a 16-week program that all Jeremiah participants must complete before officially joining the program. The curriculum focuses on breaking negative thought patterns, building self-esteem, and empowering women to trust their inherent capabilities to make good choices for themselves and their families. Because women enter and exit the program continually, and because the Empowerment experience builds on itself, transitioning to a virtual model poses some unique challenges. 

More than 60 moms were in the middle of their Empowerment when Jeremiah Program was forced to pause the program across all sites. By mid-May, classes will begin again via e-learning. Under normal circumstances, the Empowerment journey is designed to support mothers during their adjustment period when they are most vulnerable. Now, all mothers—regardless of their time in the program—are experiencing an adjustment period, one that may seriously test the skills they’ve developed in the program. For the admissions staff and Empowerment volunteers, this means building flexibility into the prompts and protocols they rely on during virtual Empowerment sessions. It also means exploring possibilities for sharing the Empowerment curriculum beyond Jeremiah Program so more women can benefit.

“[We have] really been focused on ensuring all moms have the technology they need for e-learning and moving the experience to a virtual platform,” says JoMarie Morris, executive director of Jeremiah Program’s Rochester campus. “Empowerment will look different, but we are excited for the opportunity to try some new program elements along with our core curriculum.” 

Jeremiah Program Is No Stranger to Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to harness the creativity and innovation that drive our community.

Chastity Lord

This is a shape-shifting moment within our country. As a leader, a mother, and a citizen, this past month has been simultaneously frightening, frustrating, and inspiring. Each day, we move through those emotions and acknowledge that the world has become unrecognizable—but we can’t remain still for too long. We must begin to shape the contours of our new world and ask, “What opportunities does this present? What can we do to reduce the poverty tax on moms and families?”

In the U.S., people of all socioeconomic levels have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic isn’t a great equalizer—far from it. Folks who were experiencing poverty before the pandemic are now experiencing it at a deeper level. Women experiencing poverty will have more difficulty gaining or regaining stability once the daily restrictions are lifted. 

For the mothers of Jeremiah Program, the pandemic has upended almost every aspect of life. The part-time jobs that used to fill the gaps in their budgets no longer exist. The public transportation routes they accessed have been drastically reduced or cut. In every city where we partner with communities, public schools have gone virtual. Mothers are trying to keep up their own studies while simultaneously caring for their children. Our childcare centers used to provide breakfast and lunch; many families are now responsible for every meal, requiring additional groceries at a time when shopping is a logistical and emotional nightmare. 

Many of our moms feel like they were finally gaining momentum, only to have everything they were working for come to a halt. But they’re facing this moment with the grit and resiliency that their journeys have demanded. They’ve been through hard times before. 

Although these challenges are unprecedented, our response as an organization is firmly anchored in our core values. Our leadership is committed to making sure all of our families are safe. No one will lose housing. No one will go hungry. All of our staff will be leveraged and utilized. We will continue to remind our mothers of their power, their resilience, and that they are still experts within their lives.

On a day-to-day basis, this means our staff assessing urgent needs and determining how we can respond to them in scalable ways. It means putting together structures and systems that allow us to be responsive. It means ensuring that our moms get groceries, get diapers, get cleaning supplies and baby wipes. It means keeping the lines of communication open so our families know that we’re here to advocate for them. 

We’re leaning into our mission, and we’re also pivoting to the future. Right now, we have committees working on new digital programming that will deliver Empowerment, family coaching, and supplemental early childhood development programming through hybrid learning models. Everything we’re putting in place is responding to the moment and investing in the future of Jeremiah. When we move out of the COVID crisis, these new hybrid learning models and virtual resources will remain, better serving Jeremiah Program moms and expanding our services to new families. 

Due to the uncertainty of this moment, it benefits our moms tremendously to be able to attend counseling sessions virtually and engage with JP programming after their kids go to sleep. The pandemic has allowed us the opportunity to explore these modalities and build on what we’ve been doing. The new virtual programming will allow us to respond to moms in a more authentic, holistic way while lowering the cost per family engagement.

Jeremiah Program is no stranger to crises or challenges. We understand the urgency of now, but we also understand the need to be disciplined and strategic—because the effects of this pandemic will be far-reaching. More pockets of poverty are being created in our country than has been seen in our lifetimes. We’re taking everything we’ve learned about disrupting generational poverty over the last two decades and making sure the structures we put in place equip us to support more moms and more kids quickly.

We aren’t just treading water in this moment: We are identifying opportunities and making investments that will allow the organization, and our moms, to emerge more powerful than ever. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant.” 

Our moms will thrive. Our kids will thrive. Our communities will thrive. And, yes, JP will thrive. 

Congratulations to our JP families and team! 2019 was a year filled with success

Congratulations to our JP families and team! 2019 was a year filled with success

Jeremiah Program mothers and their children just completed another terrific year. At Jeremiah Program, we work to fulfill the promise of a world where single mothers and their children prosper. The vast majority of our single mother participants are between the ages of 18-25, and 78% are from communities of color. With the help of our volunteers, community partners, and supporters, we’re making great progress.

2019 Jeremiah Program National Achievements

Announcing New Jeremiah Program President and CEO

Chastity Lord takes the helm in mid-September.

Today, Jeremiah Program announced Chastity Lord as its next President and CEO. Lord is a dynamic leader who has dedicated her career to disrupting systems of inequity through a social justice lens. Currently Chief Operating Officer at Color Of Change, a national social justice organization, Lord brings a unique blend of practitioner and national leadership experience to her new role. Her official start is mid-September, and Lord has already begun working with the board transition committee to outline key strategic priorities. She will replace Gloria Perez, who has successfully led the organization for two decades.

“We are energized by this forward movement,” said John Potter, Jeremiah Program Governing Board Chair. “After nearly a year of sustained progress on our strategic plan and an engaged search effort, we are excited that Chastity Lord will join us bringing the experience and attributes of a transformational leader that we were seeking.”

Lord has extensive experience and success in nonprofit leadership, including her role as Regional Vice President at The Posse Foundation where she played a critical role in Posse doubling its national footprint and oversaw the program codification and fundraising of sites in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and DC.

The timing of this transition compliments Lord’s deep experience scaling organizations similar to Jeremiah Program, which began with a Minneapolis residential campus in 1998 and has expanded to seven sites in five states including nonresidential models.

As a leader in two-generation programming aimed at disrupting generational poverty for single mothers and their children, Jeremiah allows Lord to continue dedicating her career to disrupting systems of inequity through a social justice lens.

“Jeremiah resonated with me on a deeply personal level, as a first-generation college graduate who grew up poor with a single mom and a lot of housing instability,” said Lord. “Education was the lever that disrupted my own family’s cycle of generational poverty.”

“Because of its successful model, Jeremiah is in a unique position to frame a national conversation about the investments required to disrupt cycles of generational poverty, while simultaneously illuminating what systems and structures lead to it,” said Lord.

One immediate goal is to increase Jeremiah’s visibility and voice.

“One of my key priorities is to ensure that anyone who is committed to disrupting cycles of poverty and dismantling the systems and structures that lead to it, know the work of Jeremiah Program,” Lord said. “I want them to know who we are, what we are about, and about our twenty plus years of impact. We will have to broaden our tent of supporters and champions as Jeremiah Program seeks to demonstrate transformative impact at a larger scale.”

Jeremiah Program Rochester Breaks Ground on $16.5M Campus

After three years of planning and fundraising, Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minnesota will break ground on its $16.5 million campus on Monday, July 29. A major gift of $1 million from Harper Family Foundation last month rounded out the commitments to move the project forward.

“This generous gift keeps us on track for transformational programming aimed at single mothers and their families,” said JoMarie Morris, Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minnesota executive director. “From the first discussions to these final dollars, all sectors of the community have rallied to bring this project to fruition.”

Solution for community challenges

Jeremiah Program is a national nonprofit aimed at ending the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time. The impetus for bringing the project to the area stemmed from the rising number of low-income single-mother households, lack of affordable housing and the increased need for a trained workforce.

“Jeremiah really hits all the hot buttons,” said Morris. “Our program addresses a career-track education for moms, quality early childhood education, secure housing, training, and support services all on one campus. We bundle critical services to better serve our clients enabling them to do the hard work of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. A win for the entire community.”

Families already benefiting from the program

When completed in the summer of 2020, the campus will house 40 families and offer wrap-around services. Prerequisite for enrollment includes attending Jeremiah’s signature Empowerment Training.

“Twelve families have already graduated from Empowerment Training and are enrolled. We have 20 more families scheduled for the course,” said Morris. “This course and our program plan are intense. The women are building a sisterhood necessary to support one-another and learning critical techniques from coaches for keeping their family stable.”

Public welcome to the groundbreaking ceremony

The public is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, July 29 at 10:30 a.m. The event will be held at the campus building site located near the intersection of Valleyhigh Drive and 19th Street Northwest in Rochester. A reception will follow at the site. If there is inclement weather, the reception will take place at St. Mary’s University Cascade Meadow, next door.

Along with local dignitaries and partners, groundbreaking guests will include Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. During a listening tour in Rochester in March of this year, Ho said part of the solution to more affordable housing is to look for new approaches to old problems.

“Jeremiah Program strives for innovation and evidence-based approaches,” said Morris. “We have worked with a cross-section of the community to get to this point and we won’t stop there. Together we can achieve our goals to end generational poverty. This campus is a ground zero for changing lives.”

Weis Builders has been tapped for construction of the 64,000 square-foot campus because of their quality work and extensive experience with low-income tax incentive projects, according to Morris. CRW Architecture & Design Group, who has a long-time commitment to community-based projects, developed the design that includes housing, child development center, community room and more.

Funds needed to furnish campus

An additional fundraising push for $350,000 continues for outfitting the apartments, classrooms, offices and common areas.

“We are so close to creating a space of welcome and promise,” said Morris. “The community continues to rally. We need help to finish this last element of the building project.”

A unique opportunity to give toward the housing project is through Buy-a-Brick. Donors are able to have a brick engraved to honor a loved one, highlight a business and more. The bricks will form the pathway and patio to the campus community room. Learn more here.

Jeremiah Program is one of the nation’s most successful strategies to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time.  Jeremiah moms live at the campus with their children while they receive support for a career-track education that will provide a livable wage job.  The 64,000 square-foot Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast MN campus will provide safe, affordable housing for 40 low-income single mothers and their young children, an on-site child development center offering Head Start and Early Head Start for 64 children through a partnership with Families First of Minnesota, outdoor play areas, an empowerment and life skills training center, and a community meeting and gathering space.

 

Moving 2Gen Strategy Forward Across the Country

Jeremiah Program President and CEO, Gloria Perez, was invited to Maryland to mentor leaders interested in starting or expanding a 2Gen strategy for helping families succeed.

The two-day peer-learning site visit takes place at Garrett County Community Action Committee in Oakland, MA. Garrett County Community Action has become an all-in 2Gen organization, putting families in the center of its work. Along with learning from Garrett County, practitioners will work with mentors to create action plans to start or improve their 2Gen programs.

Perez’ first day working with her group highlighted coaching 2Gen families in crisis.

“My premise was that part of what happens in a crisis is that people disconnect from their own power; they begin to feel like victims,” Perez said. “It is our job as coaching professionals to help individuals change their mindset and reconnect to their core value- they are important, valuable, capable human beings. We can help people in a crisis reconnect to their personal power which will give them insight into how to solve their own problems. De-escalation and reframing are key steps when dealing with people in crisis.”

This 2GenACT site visit is being coordinated by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, in collaboration with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

Dept. of Health Grant Expands Home Visits in SE Minnesota Counties

Four local agencies collaborate to serve families with high-risk factors

A four-year $2.2 million Minnesota Department of Health collaborative grant expands home visits to low-income families in seven Southeastern Minnesota counties.  Three Rivers Community Action, Inc. partnered with subgrantees, Jeremiah Program, Families First of Minnesota, and Semcac, to receive this competitive award.

Using the Parents as Teachers and Early Head Start evidence-based home visiting models, the program will focus on families with high-risk factors to improve family health and well-being, working with parents as the primary educators of their children.

“This collaboration pulls together experts with decades of experience helping economically-challenged families succeed,” said JoMarie Morris, Jeremiah Program, Rochester-SE MN executive director. “The expansion will reach more families and target the unmet needs of immigrant families and others.”

In addition, the grant addresses a significant gap in-home visits for children birth to 3 years. Currently, most of the regions’ home visits are for prenatal to 3 months only.

“The parent-child relationship and the resulting social-emotional development of the child is so critical to the future success of the child. The Early Head Start home visiting model supports both the child’s development and the parent(s) interaction with their child” said Jane Adams Barber, Three Rivers Community Action, Inc. early childhood director.

Home visiting programs, “are a proven way to benefit at-risk children, promote life-long health and reduce the need for future community spending on social programs,” said Minnesota Department of Health in a recent press release announcing $32 Million in grants around the state.

“We have ongoing assessment and continuous improvement processes in place to ensure the home visiting experiences are meeting the needs of families and program goals,” said Beth Stanford, Semcac Head Start director.

The project hopes to serve more than 100 new families each of the four years of the grant beginning in 2019. Please visit the grantee websites for information on the services they offer and how to apply for support.

“Partnerships are an efficient way to deliver these services to those who need them the most,” said Jon Losness, Families First of Minnesota executive director. “Working together, our organizations can address the need to promote child well-being while preventing abuse and neglect.”

3 Ways Women Influence Memorial Day

At Jeremiah Program we are all about empowerment of women. Giving single moms the support and tools to help them battle back poverty and become economically successful is a prime pillar of our theory of change. Understanding the significance of powerful, determined women in military service to our country is essential in understanding our whole history.

Here are 3 Ways women influence history:

ONE – Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, a day to place flowers and flags at the graves of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Decoration Day got its biggest push by women after the Civil War as they noticed the neglect of the grave sites of Union soldiers. They began the movement to take a day to memorialize warriors.

TWO – Women volunteered in every war on record. And given the inherent danger, many died in service. As early as the Revolutionary War, women were medical caregivers; others were spies and some, disguised as men, fought in battles.

THREE – While 84% of active duty military are men, women in military families make huge sacrifices whether or not they are enlisted. One heavy burden is caring for children after a spouse is killed in combat. On special days like Memorial Day, these strong women still grieve and work to keep the memory of their spouse alive for their children.

Jeremiah Program remembers all who gave their lives in defense of American freedom. We also salute the role of women within the military.

 

 

Embrace Your Story; Guide Your Future

By Gloria Perez, Jeremiah Program President and CEO

I wake up each day with a tremendous sense of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is not something I’ve held my whole life, though I remember being coached to give thanks at the side of my bed when I was a little girl. My current gratitude practice is something that I’ve increasingly cultivated since I first came to Minnesota more than 35 years ago.

At the age of 18, I feared that if I stayed in San Antonio, steeped in an environment of an economically challenged neighborhood and a tight-knit family, I might never explore life possibilities. There were stories I believed about myself aside from the comfort in my identity as a Mexican-American Catholic girl from the Southside of San Antonio. There was more to who I could be in the world.

Tragic events and growth

When I was 4 years old, I was hit by a car. It was a traumatic experience for my family. My memories focus on two things: One, being very afraid before I went into surgery because they would not allow my mom to stay with me in the Emergency Room. Two, feeling very fortunate to be alive. I vividly remember people saying things like “She is so lucky to be alive!” or “God wasn’t ready to take her; she must have a very special purpose in life.” Regardless of what God intended, I believed the stories I was told.

At some level, even as a child, I believed my life had a purpose; I knew I was lucky to be alive and it influenced my view of myself.

When I was 10, my dad died of cancer. While my dad had been sick for a few years, his illness was not something that we talked about. But as you might imagine, my sisters and I sensed that something was wrong. Shortly before my dad died, he told me that things happen in life for reasons we cannot explain. He said it was not my place to question why things happen. He told me God has a plan. My job, he said, was to figure out my life’s purpose…God would take care of the rest.

Looking for direction

The subsequent five years were incredibly hard on our family and the harder things became the more I yearned to get away. My mother did her best to keep all of us on track but that is not what happened. Slowly but surely my sisters fell in with the wrong crowds and they ended up not continuing their education.

Being the youngest, my mom doubled-down to help me stay on track. She started attending night school and would take me with her to make sure I completed my homework. I loved being on a college campus and kept pondering “What was my life’s purpose?” It was that year of accompanying my mom to college that I decided I would go to college so that I could have a career in a helping profession.

Even though I started to feel like I might know my life’s purpose I was still focused on my shortcomings. Although I did fine academically, I was not on the starting team for basketball and I was not one of the cool kids. The story I told myself was that I was not smart, I was not athletic, and I was not cool.

I started to feel inadequate and insecure. The reality was irrelevant; what really mattered were the stories I told myself. Because I was not feeling good about myself, I started to make bad choices.

The summer before starting high school my mother gave me an incredible opportunity which turned my attitude around. I was a strong vocalist joined a co-ed music group at the local Catholic boy’s high school. At the end of the year the choir was going to tour Eastern Europe as part of a peace initiative through the school. My mom said if I was disciplined enough to maintain my grades, practice and earn money for the trip, she would let me go. So I applied myself in all areas and spent countless hours daydreaming about what life would be like after the trip.

My enthusiasm for what was possible started to overcome my insecurities. I started to create a new story about myself. I told myself that even though I was not good at sports or popular, I was cool in my own way because I was going to get to go to Europe with a group of high schoolers….and I was the youngest member of the group.

The trip was an amazing experience and it opened my eyes to a whole new world. While I thought I was poor compared to most of the kids at my school, when I saw the poverty in some of the villages in Romania and Bulgaria, I felt very fortunate to have my life. Not only did I have a loving family, but I also had running water, adequate housing and clothing, delicious Mexican food and I lived in a country that gave a voice to the people. The story I told myself was that I was very blessed. I was blessed to have a supportive mother, a good education and the opportunity to learn and grow.

While I was given these amazing opportunities, the other young people around me – my sisters, the neighbor kids, my cousins – were not experiencing the kind of success my parents, family, and teachers talked about.

The story I told myself is that there was something in my environment that obscured the hopes and dreams of people I admired. And from my vantage point, if they were feeling hopeless and resigned to an unfulfilled life, I too was at risk of losing hope. So I changed my environment to change my outcome.

The leap of faith

While I knew moving to Minnesota would be a culture shock, I told myself that I needed the physical distance from my home. I began attending the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul. However, after leaving San Antonio, I sorely missed the Latino community.  It took me about a year to get connected into the Latino community in St. Paul. Before I knew it the elders and civic leaders were welcoming me, encouraging me to get involved and ultimately mentoring me.

Through volunteerism, academic pursuits and mentoring by community leaders, I learned: how to run a business, about community organizing, about the roots of systemic inequities and about how nonprofits work to improve the lives of people and communities.

Minnesota career

While I started my career as a small business owner, I kept volunteering and building my skills as a leader by joining boards in the community and being a member of civic groups. After getting married and having two children; and working more hours than I’d like to admit, my husband suggested that I consider a career change. I didn’t think anyone would consider me a viable candidate to run a nonprofit but I discovered that my business and civic experiences gave me transferable skills. In 1995 I was hired as the Executive Director of Casa de Esperanza, a domestic violence agency headquartered in St. Paul.

For me, it was a perfect fit because I had volunteered there over several years, beginning in college. Working with the women at Casa and being of service to families in crisis was an amazing growth opportunity and I loved the immersion in the Latino community.

In 1998 when I learned about the Jeremiah Program Executive Director position, I was awestruck by the ambitious mission and I felt a personal connection to the work. I loved that Jeremiah was focused on determined single mothers that want to go to college. If my mom had had support to go to college, after my dad died, she would have jumped at the opportunity to be mentored and supported.

Without a doubt, Jeremiah Program has been a place where I’ve learned some important leadership lessons. Jeremiah mothers come to Jeremiah with dreams and hopes. They believe they have a purpose. They push through their fear and extend their trust to Jeremiah staff and to an educational and work system that has not traditionally worked for them.

Jeremiah children are, by far, the most inspiring part of the work for me. When you meet a child, you can see their potential and inner beauty. I want to make sure all children have a solid foundation so they can be their best selves. I want all children to have stories about themselves that give them hope, strength, and resiliency.

What story do you tell yourself about your life’s purpose? While we cannot control what happens in the world around us, we can control our thoughts about ourselves and we can give meaning to the events around us.

 

 

Tackle Poverty with Anthony Barr

Tackling Poverty Two Generations at Time

by transforming the lives of single parents and their families.

I established Raise the Barr to help break the cycle of poverty for low-income single-parent families by helping single parents complete their post-secondary education. That means Raise the Barr provides school tuition, helps pay childcare costs, prepares children for success in school, and provides emergency grants for single parents in Minnesota and California. We’ve been working with Jeremiah Program since the beginning. I’ve made it a priority to visit the children at Jeremiah Program once a month during the NFL season.

That’s why, this season I’m taking the field to make my tackles count for more! I’m personally pledging $100 for every tackle I have this season to transform the lives of single parents and their families, and I’m asking you to join me and make your pledge today. With your pledges, every tackle means more families’ lives transformed from poverty to prosperity.

Anyone whose total pledge or donation equals at least $55 will be entered to win a signed Anthony Barr Helmet and a thank you shout out from me on twitter and Instagram.

All of the funds raised from this campaign will be split between Raise the Barr and Jeremiah Program and our combined work to transform lives two generations at a time. No pledge or donation is too small or too big. Every little bit helps provide a lifetime of opportunities for single parents and their families.

Thank you for your generous support!

-Anthony Barr

“If I’m just present at some point to try and be that father figure-type person … just to give them someone to look up to and show that you can do that,” Barr said. “You don’t have to have two parents or be raised with a silver spoon in order to be successful. It’s what you make of it.”

Helping families like ours!