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Why Focus on Single Moms?

JP President and CEO Chastity Lord explains why we center single mothers and their families in our work.

We often get the question, “Why single moms?” We often answer, “Why not?” Women experience poverty at higher rates in our country, with American Indian, Black, and Latinx women being disproportionately impacted. These are facts.

It is unclear when James Baldwin coined this refrain that still rings so powerfully true: Being poor in this country is extremely expensive. The past few years have been overwhelming, exhausting, and emotional, but we must recognize that it isn’t raining on all of us with the same intensity.

Nearly 25% of women with children live below the poverty line, according to the Center for American Progress. The interesting thing is that poverty rates for women and men are nearly even throughout early adulthood, but the gap widens significantly for women during prime childbearing years — with women between the ages of 25 and 34 being 69% more likely to live in poverty. These, too, are facts.

At JP, we often say the pandemic laid bare what we have known for nearly 25 years for women living in poverty: moms, especially single moms, are essential workers, and when crisis strikes, they bear the burden. JP moms aren’t superheroes; they are simply great moms doing what great moms do — playing peek-a-boo, doing laundry, and making lunches while also studying for an upcoming exam.

Contrary to what some people may believe, JP isn’t saving anyone. We are simply curating a support structure that allows a JP mom to bet on her child and herself, a world that doesn’t require a mom to choose which one of her identities to bring to a conversation about resources. As Audre Lorde so beautifully said, people in poverty don’t have single-issue struggles because they don’t live single-issue lives. We encourage moms to both express gratitude and exercise frustration for bad public policy that feeds generational poverty. Influencing systems change is also their birthright. We want JP moms to dream big dreams for themselves, their children, and their communities.

Let’s be clear: This journey is an audacious one and has required so many champions.

We have been able to stay in the arena with over 1,000 JP moms and children this past year after a really brutal few years, and it’s because we are surrounded by an incredible group of supporters and champions who believe community is a verb.

Chastity Lord is the President and CEO of Jeremiah Program.

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