Single black women with children face a number of barriers when attending college, from finding childcare to supporting the family. Among the top challenges is financing the education. Luckily, a number of grants focus specifically on this demographic and offer financial assistance to those who qualify.
According to New America Media, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that about 1,169,000 black single mothers, or around 37 percent, have graduated only from high school. In comparison, 2,235,000, or 35 percent, of single white mothers have graduated only from high school. The percentages are very close. In the same Census report, however, the number of single black mothers with a bachelor's degree or higher was significantly lower than that of white single mothers. Finding sources to finance an education is noted as a top reason for not continuing an education.
Rutgers University Professor William M. Rodgers, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com, said that increasing one's education is crucial. “In the long term, improving one’s education and skills helps create a better lifestyle for themselves and their family,” Rodgers said. “But, it’s the short-term needs that are crucial.” Grants, scholarships and funding can help single black mothers to get that education.
Raise the Nation
Raise the Nation is one such source for grants. The not-for-profit corporation offers economic support to single-parent women of all races who wish to continue with their education or repay student loans, according to its website, which is linked in References. The grant source pays funds directly to colleges, universities and student loan providers to assist women in completing an education. Assistance is available for tuition, child care, books and basic needs. The funds are awarded twice a year.
The Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP) is another source of scholarships. Designed to support survivors of intimate partner abuse, the program offers tuition to women who are full- or part-time students in state-supported community colleges, colleges or universities, technical or vocational schools, private colleges or universities and proprietary schools, according to its website, linked in References. Applications are available online for this funding, which was created in 1999 with a primary focus to assist single mothers with young children. Eligibility requirements include women who have survived partner abuse and have been separated from the partner for a minimum of one year, who are U.S. citizens, who have applied to an officially accepted course of study, who show a need for assistance and who exhibit a desire and ability to complete the program. The funding is available for women of all races.
United Negro College Fund
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has granted more than $105 million since 1985 to more than 28,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States, according to its website. Black women can find scholarships through UNCF each year. Programs include funding through mentorships, internships and leadership development training. Many college students have found aid through UNCF with paid internships. More than 20 applications for various sources of funding are listed on UNCF's website. The UNCF supports traditionally black colleges, including 39 supported directly, and provides scholarships and internships for students at 900 institutions nationwide. While not specifically for single, black mothers alone, the UNCF services offer programs for all minority students.
The Sister Thea Bowman Foundation
The Sister Thea Bowman Foundation has four scholarships for African-American single mothers and their children to attend the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, according to the website MulticulturalAdvantage.com. A total of $30,000 is offered for a four-year education for each student by the foundation; another $24,000 is matched with a grant from the College of St. Mary. To be eligible, women must be African-American single mothers, have completed high school, from low-income housing and able to gain admission into the college. To apply for the scholarship, email Mary Lou Jennings, executive director of the Sister Thea Bowman Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa S. Treacy is a former newspaper and online media editor in Philadelphia. She has been published on philly.com, in the "Philadelphia Inquirer," "The Philadelphia Tribune" and "Montgomery Newspapers" since she began writing in 1997. Most recently she was a regional editor for Patch.com, managing the Montgomery County sites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Pennsylvania State University.