Shame and Economic Mobility Are Connected

JP President and CEO Chastity Lord breaks down the long-term impact of typical cultural narratives about single moms.

Narratives and storytelling matter. The stories we hear about ourselves — whether explicitly through scripted characters within television shows and films or implicitly through the bias of a hiring manager — all result in cascading implications that impact access, opportunity and, yes, economic mobility.

At JP, we are committed to reframing the cultural narratives that position single mothers experiencing poverty as “bad moms” and “bad decision-makers.” Our programming is rooted in the fact that single moms are already great moms and leaders. They do not need interventions on how to be great parents any more than middle-class moms do.

When coupled with systemic oppression and inequities, this bias can be an insurmountable barrier for single moms. We believe there is a correlation between shame and economic mobility — affecting matriculation, persistence, and college graduation for the non-traditional student parent, as well as access to competitive internships and hiring opportunities upon graduation. The only way to disrupt the entrenched stigma is to replace it with a new narrative — one grounded in the agency, resilience, and power of single moms experiencing poverty. This new narrative is necessary within higher education and amongst hiring managers — both gatekeepers to economic mobility.

Our moms are already pushing back against the old, false narrative — collectively and individually by sharing and reclaiming their stories. However, they cannot create opportunities and gain access without your help.

In spring 2022, we launched the Career Volunteer Mentor Program, designed to help JP moms navigate the new terrain of emerging workforce opportunities, increasing their competitiveness for paid internships and full-time job opportunities in the post-pandemic economy. Simultaneously, volunteer mentors — the majority of whom occupy leadership positions within their companies — will deepen their understanding of the trends impacting single moms’ career paths and the value-add these women bring to the workforce.

Chastity Lord is the President and CEO of Jeremiah Program.

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