What if Generosity Evoked Pride?

JP President and CEO Chastity Lord imagines all resource opportunities, for those with and without privilege, as investments in our collective future.

There is an unspoken understanding that the pursuit of economic mobility is a journey to be traveled in silence, oftentimes sprinkled with shame. You are encouraged to leverage opportunities like Pell Grants, free and reduced lunch, Section 8 housing, and SNAP food programs — but only from a place of gratitude.

Alternatively, there are different sets of spoken rules shared in privileged spaces. These rules encourage you to amplify key moments by placing stickers on your car highlighting your undergrad and graduate school institutions or your fellowships. You are encouraged to embrace these moments as achievements, from a place of pride — not gratitude.

At JP, we desire to shift this narrative that reserves certain resource investments as points of pride for the privileged and as shame for those with less. As a country, our communities have thrived by leveraging the currency of generosity — something we all need and from which we all benefit.

Imagine if all resource opportunities were framed as investments in our workforce, our economy, our future — a recognition that when women and children win, we all win.

Imagine if, in 1973, our country had fostered networks around former Pell Grant recipients. Fifty years later, what could their voices and insights teach us about the rising costs of higher education, student debt, or the experiences of first-generation college graduates? Unfortunately, this program fostered gratitude, not pride.

At JP, we have an incredible opportunity to build a new network that isn’t built on where you went to school or who you know but on a shared experience and identity: being a single mom living at the financial margins in a world that wasn’t built with you in mind.

Our alumni sit at the center of authoring this new narrative as they disrupt the cycle of poverty for their families. Over 60% of JP alumni in our 25-year history are currently active, either participating in the JP Fellows Program or attending the JP Summit.

At JP, we believe that delivering on our mission requires fostering an alumni community that elicits this pride. History is an excellent teacher, and the invaluable insights and reflections of JP alumni continue to sharpen with their distance from poverty and proximity to prosperity.

JP’s mission is not an “either-or” but a “yes and.” We are deeply committed to the 2,000 moms and kids we are actively supporting, but we also feel an outsized responsibility to amplify what we are learning to aid in shifting the conditions for the single moms living at the financial margins that we will never meet.

As always, thank you for being a part of this journey. This work requires a constellation of individuals committed to operating in the currency of generosity.

Chastity Lord is the President and CEO of Jeremiah Program.

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