Why the Questions We Ask Ourselves Matter

JP President and CEO Chastity Lord says we can’t solve complex problems like generational poverty without addressing their underlying systems.

Can you solve intractable problems like generational poverty without addressing the systems that create it?

At JP our answer is no. We believe that in order to deliver on our mission, we have to do both: address the day-to-day realities that are front and center for JP moms and their kids living at the financial margins, while simultaneously committing to reauthor the written and unwritten rules that sustain generational poverty.

Choosing to address the day-to-day realities without addressing the root is simply agreeing to play eternal whack-a-mole.

For the past 25 years, JP has been asking ourselves: How do we disrupt the cycle of poverty for single moms and their children two generations at a time? We don’t independently hold the answer, but we do know that it requires affordable housing access, quality childcare, and career development. It requires normalizing access to mental and reproductive health resources and investing in higher education for single moms as a path to economic mobility.

Asking questions of ourselves can feel simple, like most powerful ideas, but the complexity resides in our willingness to listen and act.

At JP we also believe that the questions our moms ask themselves influence where they focus their energy, and that focus influences how they dream for their families and their community.

For example, JP’s 12-week Empowerment and Leadership introductory course focuses on fostering a community where JP moms are allowed to explore the women and parents they currently are, have been, and — more importantly — desire to become.

It’s space to reflect, without judgment. It’s a reminder that the questions we ask ourselves are both urgent and necessary.

Chastity Lord is the President and CEO of Jeremiah Program.

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