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!

Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead Welcomes New Executive Director Lonnie Pederson


FARGO, ND – Lonnie Pederson has joined Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead as the organization’s new executive director. Pederson joins Jeremiah Program after developing a Master of Arts in Leadership Program at the University of Jamestown, where she served as director of this program as well as an assistant professor. In addition to leadership and program growth, Pederson comes to Jeremiah Program with significant experience in fundraising and business development. Prior roles included serving as vice president at Sanford Health and holding several development roles at Concordia College, including director of the annual fund and external relations, director of annual giving and development associate. 

With a proven track record for developing lasting relationships both internally and externally as well as a long-range tenure in the Fargo-Moorhead community, Pederson is an ideal fit for continuing the growth and development of the Fargo-Moorhead campus. 

“Lonnie’s experience, personality, and track record of servant leadership will help us deliver our mission of transforming lives two generations at a time,” said Jonathan Warrey, chairman of the Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead Board of Trustees. “We are delighted she is joining us and look forward to seeing her leadership and fresh ideas benefit our families.” 

Pederson’s background also includes several advanced degrees including: 

* A Doctorate of Education in Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, 

* A Master of Science in Education and Cognate/Counseling from The University of North Dakota, and 

* A Bachelor of Science in Health and Psychology from Valley City State University. 

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to join a team of dedicated individuals, board members, and community members who have literally and figuratively built a strong foundation,” Pederson said. “I look forward to joining Jeremiah Program and building upon the existing partnerships and am committed to furthering the mission to transform families from poverty to prosperity.” 

Jeremiah Program welcomes new Executive Director for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul campus, La Juana Whitmore

MINNEAPOLIS, MN June 20, 2018

Following an extensive search, Jessica Lehman, Jeremiah Program’s COO announced today the hiring of La Juana Whitmore as the new Executive Director for the organization’s Minneapolis and Saint Paul campus. Her start date will be July 9th.

Whitmore comes to Jeremiah Program from Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) where she is Director of Consulting Solutions, leading a team of business consultants to assist over 850 minority entrepreneurs in starting and growing their Minnesota-based businesses. Prior to MEDA, she held a variety of roles at Target Corporation, including leadership positions in Enterprise Strategy & Innovation and Merchandise Process & Technology Development. She is a founder of and has acted as a small business consultant and entrepreneurship expert throughout her career.

“La Juana impressed us with her combination of corporate and non-profit experience. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious,” said Deborah Burke, Chair of the Jeremiah Program Minneapolis-Saint Paul community board of trustees. “As a dynamic and strong executive director, she is a model of the values of the Jeremiah Program.”

In addition, Whitmore brings varied leadership experience and a unique perspective with active service to the community. She serves on the board of Synapse Minnesota and as an Advisory Council Member for the Harvard Business Review. She has also served on the boards of the Metro Independent Business Alliance and Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota.“I am very excited to join the team at Jeremiah Program and look forward to contributing to the important work of moving families from poverty to prosperity, two generations at a time,” said Whitmore.

Whitmore holds a BS in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and a Master’s degree in Public and Non-Profit Management from Metropolitan State University. She is a member of the Association for Strategic Planning and the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants. Whitmore is also a Six Sigma Yellow Belt.

“I’m thrilled about having somebody of La Juana’s caliber join our Minneapolis & Saint Paul campus. I know that all the participants, staff, and stakeholders will benefit from the vast experience, strategic leadership, and passion that La Juana brings to the Executive Director role. She is the perfect leader to carry on a legacy of proven results in our community and I look forward to working with her,” said Gloria Perez, Jeremiah’s CEO.

About Jeremiah Program

Jeremiah Program offers one of the nation’s most successful strategies for transforming families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. Jeremiah prepares determined single mothers to excel in the workforce, readies their children to succeed in school, and reduces generational dependence on public assistance. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Jeremiah Program also operates in Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN; Brooklyn, NY and Rochester-Southeast, MN.

For More Information, Contact: Jessica Lehman 612.259.3010


Jeremiah Program featured in Rochester Women Magazine

Jeremiah Program Expands to Rochester

Written by Nicole L. Czarnomski Photography by Fagan Studios

About five years ago, Paul Fleissner, head of Olmsted County Community Services at the time, learned about Jeremiah Program while listening to CEO Gloria Perez speak in Washington, D.C. Amazed with the program’s mission and two-generation approach, Fleissner arranged a time to meet with Perez in Minneapolis. After meeting with her, he corralled community leaders in Rochester to launch a program. JoMarie Morris, a Rochester attorney, leads the way.

Read more

CEO Gloria Perez named to new Community Advisory Board at the Minneapolis Fed


Photo originally published by Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder – Stan Waldhauser (06/14/2018)

MINNEAPOLIS, April 5, 2018 – The Minneapolis Fed announced the members of the newly formed Community Advisory Board for the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute. This advisory board, made up of 12 local nonprofit, philanthropic, and government leaders, including Jeremiah Program President & CEO Gloria Perez, will serve as an important resource in crafting the Institute’s research agenda on economic opportunity and inclusive growth.

Maximum employment is a primary aim of the Minneapolis Fed and the Federal Reserve System. In pursuit of that goal, Fed policymakers seek to understand the mechanisms behind high unemployment rates for people of color.

“Behind the unemployment rate are the lives of millions of Americans who are affected by job loss and lack of opportunity to work,” said Mark Wright, director of Research at the Minneapolis Fed. “We have to understand the causes of unemployment for everyday Americans, and that means looking at barriers to opportunity and lack of inclusion.”

The Community Advisory Board will provide input into the Institute’s research agenda by helping to uncover gaps in the knowledge base and by identifying and explaining the practical barriers to economic opportunity and inclusive growth in local communities.

Community Advisory Board

· Tawanna Black, Founder and CEO, Center for Economic Inclusion

· Bruce Corrie, Director, St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department

· Paul Fleissner, Deputy County Administrator for the Health, Housing, and Human Services Division and Director of the Housing at Redevelopment Authority, Olmsted County

· Michael A. Goze, CEO, American Indian Community Development Corporation

· Danielle Grant, President and CEO, AchieveMpls

· Shawntera Hardy, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

· Ezell Jones, Vice President and Relationship Manager, CBIZ Inc.

· Paul Mattessich, Executive Director, Wilder Research

· Gloria Perez, President and CEO, Jeremiah Program

· Gregory P. Russ, Executive Director and CEO, Minnesota Public Housing Authority

· Sondra Samuels, President and CEO, Northside Achievement Zone

· Kate Wolford, President, McKnight Foundation


The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System, the nation’s central bank. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is responsible for the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations, and provides a variety of payments services to financial institutions and the U.S. government.

Jeremiah Program CEO Gloria Perez’s Greatest Mentor – Her Mother

Gloria’s mother taught her valuable lessons about education, hard work and diligence. “She had to learn how to be independent and lead; she became the sole breadwinner and spiritual guide for the family. My mom’s deep faith, perseverance and adventurous spirit — she will try anything once — has always inspired me to follow my dreams and live life to the fullest.”  Read the full article in the Star Tribune here.

Jeremiah Program Boston Launches Podcast

Jeremiah Program Boston Launches Podcast

Listen to staff, participants and leaders share their views on how the program works, learn about what makes Boston’s campus uniquely different and hear about the positive impact of the program in the lives of participants and the community as a whole. You can listen on this site, or visit the links below.

Please join us at our upcoming event Voices Rising on October 18th, 6:00 pm at Laugh Boston.

Voices Rising brings together artists, business professionals, civic leaders, educators, and community members to benefit Jeremiah Program Boston.


Jeremiah Program offers one of the nation’s most successful strategies for transforming families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time. Jeremiah prepares determined single mothers to excel in the workforce, readies their children to succeed in school, and reduces generational dependence on public assistance.

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