Study: Innovative Empowerment Program Enables Single Mothers to Achieve Economic Success

Study: Innovative Empowerment Program Enables Single Mothers to Achieve Economic Success

Contact: Gillian Linden

New White Paper Released by Jeremiah Program Reinforces
Critical Need for Connection and Community in Order to Disrupt Poverty

MINNEAPOLIS (April 16, 2024)—Jeremiah Program (JP), a national nonprofit with one of the most successful strategies for helping single mothers and their children overcome the barriers that sustain generational poverty, today released a new report: Empowerment & Leadership: Laying the Groundwork for Disrupting Generational Poverty by Exploring Themes of Shame, Bias and a Sense of Belonging. The study found that programs like JP’s 12-week Empowerment & Leadership (E&L) course are instrumental in helping single moms experiencing poverty to see their own stories as powerful, connect with a supportive and restorative community, eliminate the stigma of shame, and to find the space they need to reflect and reimagine their futures.

“Poverty in America is often framed as a moral or personal failure on the part of those experiencing poverty, who are disproportionately women of color. The narratives of shame that permeate the lives of single moms experiencing poverty, coupled with the systemic barriers that coalesce under the feminization of poverty, and are in direct conflict with the American Dream. Disrupting generational poverty also requires that we acknowledge the power of narratives and how one-sided stories about single moms shape conversations in the media and ultimately influence bad public policy impacting generations,” said Chastity Lord, President & CEO, Jeremiah Program. “We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished with the JP E&L program and see it as a strong structural framework to promote the kind of individual growth and interpersonal connection that are critical in the work of poverty disruption.”

The purpose of JP’s 12-week E&L course is to give moms the space and time to reflect on their own identities, learn about other moms’ experiences and share their own, as well as to heal and imagine with other single moms. Moms leave E&L understanding that they are not alone, are more able to conceptualize the vastness and pervasiveness of generational poverty and feel more equipped to challenge the barriers to success as they pursue ambitious goals for their education, career, and families.

Key highlights of the white paper include:

  • Individual Growth and Strength of Community: Achieving E&L Objectives: Findings overall demonstrated that E&L accomplishes its goals to create a sacred space for moms to reflect and feel supported in a community, as well as deepen their commitment to themselves and their educational, professional, and family goals. In comparing pre- and post-survey data, E&L moms reported greater pride in being a single mom, an increased sense of belonging, a stronger feeling of control of their own story, and improved boundary setting as compared to before E&L.
  • The Haze of Poverty: An Inability to Visualize the Future: Upon entering E&L, many moms felt too overwhelmed, exhausted, and under-resourced to be able to set clear goals and visions for their futures. After E&L, moms felt better positioned to dream, imagine, and plan ahead.
  • People Power: The Influence of Sisterhood Generated Through E&L: Many moms shared that, before E&L, they didn’t realize parallels between their experiences and those of other single moms. Hearing similar stories from other single moms validated their experiences and allowed them to extricate external narratives of shame from their own stories of self. Overwhelmingly, moms shared that the individual growth and confidence they experienced in E&L stemmed from being in a supportive community of moms with similar experiences. Frequently, in post-surveys and conversation circles, moms discussed the power of “not being alone.”

“E&L is a powerful program that supports moms in developing shame resilience and self-acceptance; however, alone it is not enough to help moms overcome the barriers erected by systemic poverty,” added Lord. “The individual and interpersonal work must be matched by organizational, environmental, and policy measures aimed at disrupting generational poverty, and single moms experiencing poverty must not only hold a seat at the table but hold the mic and curate the agenda.”

To learn more about JP or to get involved, visit

Methodology: This study was conducted from January to December 2023, targeting all participants attending E&L workshops over the course of the 12-month period. An E&L participant is a single mom with at least one child and a high school diploma or GED who is going back to college in the next six months and lives in one of JP’s nine geographies.

About Jeremiah Program: Jeremiah Program (JP) is a national organization whose mission is to disrupt the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children, two generations at a time. By investing simultaneously in a mother’s vision for her personal and professional goals and the education of her children, she simultaneously reauthors her family’s outcome as well as her community’s — proof points matter. In 2023, JP actively served over 2,000 moms and children across nine cities: Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN; Las Vegas, NV; Minneapolis, MN; Rochester, MN; and St. Paul, MN.