The Jeremiah Program, a Minneapolis nonprofit that has won national recognition for its work lifting single mothers out of poverty, broke ground last week on a campus in Texas.
It’s part of a national expansion that includes pilot projects in Boston and Fargo, and evaluations of other communities.
“I’m proud that the Twin Cities can birth a national initiative that can offer solutions to the rest of the country,” said Gloria Perez, CEO of the Jeremiah Program. “It is gratifying to see communities understand that there are no quick, low-cost fixes to systemic issues.”
The Jeremiah Program, located near the Basilica of St. Mary, was launched in 1998 to offer a new model to lift single mothers and their children out of poverty. Unlike many projects for low-income mothers, it offered more than housing and child care. The Jeremiah Program was built around the notion that mothers needed a supportive community, a “sisterhood” to help them navigate their way out of poverty. It offered everything from career coaches to self-empowerment classes.
It provided a dual track of support to children, with quality early childhood education to help them succeed in school.
The result: Sixty percent of the mothers graduate from the program, meaning they obtain an associate degree or bachelor’s degree and earn an average of $16 an hour, said Perez.
The statistics grabbed the attention of anti-poverty groups across the country, which have been contacting the Jeremiah Program to ask about replication. The national expansion was driven by that, said Perez.
Last week was the groundbreaking for a 35-unit project in Austin, Texas. Fargo is next, with construction expected next year. That’s in addition to the St. Paul campus that opened in 2008. About 300 mothers and children now are served annually in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Jeremiah is evaluating five more communities, including one in Minnesota. Said Perez: “It’s heartwarming, to know that in spite of the differences in cultures across the country, people at their core know what it takes to have a prosperous life.”