Grant Helps Single Moms Advance Social-Emotional Health of Their Young Children

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) committed $20,000 to Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minn. to help parents living in poverty meet the social-emotional needs of their children from birth to age five.

“We are proud to support organizations that are doing the important work of preparing young children for school and educating parents and teachers in the region,” said Rae Jean Hansen, the foundation’s vice president of Early Childhood. “SMIF’s Early Childhood Grants support the Foundation’s focus area of investing in the children and families of our 20-county region in southern Minnesota.”

The overall goal of this grant is to significantly increase the knowledge and ability of single mothers living in poverty to nurture and build their child’s social and emotional skills.

“We are deeply grateful to the foundation for its leadership in providing proven pathways to a bright future for young children through supporting single moms as the primary educator of their children,” said JoMarie Morris, executive director of Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minn.

The Jeremiah Program Rochester campus is scheduled to break ground in July 2019. Its 65,000 sq. ft. campus will serve 40 low-income families with fully-furnished apartments, on-site Early Childhood Education Center, Empowerment and Life Skills Training Center and more. (Read the campaign case statement.)

Empowerment Goals

SMIF funding support three core programming modules that prepare mothers with the knowledge, personal skills, and parenting techniques required to increase healthy social-emotional growth in her young children.

A hallmark of Jeremiah Program, Empowerment is a 16-week preadmissions module of training required for program eligibility along with ongoing weekly Life Skills Training.

“Jeremiah feels so strongly about the transformative power of Empowerment training that all employees are required to the class within the first year of employment,” said Morris. “Empowerment is an excellent skill-set to pass on to staff plus it helps all of us understand the hurdles our young moms face.”

Evidence shows that a mother cannot help her child succeed if she cannot herself model and teach emotional regulation, positive self-identity, communication, how to relate to others in a healthy manner, and how to resolve conflict and problem solve herself. Once moms learn this, they invariably tell Jeremiah Program that this was absolutely transformational in their ability to then help their child achieve developmental milestones both in early literacy and in social-emotional success.

The Program Works

In the past five years, 80 percent of Jeremiah Program graduates maintain consistent employment; the average income is $48,000, and 81 percent of Jeremiah children are performing at or above grade level in elementary and middle school. This is a significant achievement for young children coming from poverty, especially in their earliest years when social-emotional development is a foundation for their future educational success and life.

Victoria, a 2017 graduate of Jeremiah Program Minneapolis, gained a degree in Human Resources Management, got a job at the U of M and received two raises within the first few months of work. She is currently enrolled in a master’s program.

“Jeremiah allowed me to blossom into the mother I desired to be. I was able to show my daughter what it looked like to work hard, and she was able to get an education while I was getting my education, too,” Victoria says.

“What I gained from Jeremiah was recognizing I have so much worth. I am extremely powerful, and have control over my own life. One of my favorite poets says in her poem, ‘Knowing your worth can save your life.’ I am so thankful that Jeremiah teaches that in both words and actions. They empower us; they believe in us. We may struggle, but we will overcome.”

The Need

Single mothers living in Olmsted County and surrounding 11-County service area experience double the rate of poverty of the rest of the low-income population, the highest rate of low-wage employment and far worse college graduation rates than their peers.

Jeremiah Program is dedicated to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time. Jeremiah’s proven, holistic approach begins with establishing a supportive community for determined single mothers to pursue a career-track, college education. Through a combination of quality early childhood education, a safe and affordable place to live, and empowerment and life skills training, families find stability and a path out of poverty.

The Rochester Campus of Jeremiah Program has collaborated with and built resource and referral networks in every county within our 11-County service area and key major cities of Winona, Owatonna, Northfield and Austin. Through collaboration, Jeremiah is leveraging the resources and assets of human services agencies serving single mothers to recruit, offer pre-admissions Empowerment Training, and implement groups for Life Skills/Parenting Training to continue while the physical campus is being built.