“I didn’t expect single parenting to be my fate, but I will not let it hinder my future,” says Darcel McIntyre, a mother of two who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in early childhood education from Cardinal Stritch University in May 2015.
When Chineva Smith, also a single mother of two, earned her degree in organizational administration from UW-Milwaukee, she was the first person on the maternal side of her family to graduate from college. She is now in the MBA program at Alverno College.
Both Darcel and Chineva benefited from a grant program run by the HOPE Network, a nonprofit group that provides support to single mothers and their children in the greater Milwaukee area.
The group is now accepting applications for this year’s Edmund Springman Educational Grants. These grants are available to single mothers in the greater Milwaukee area who are pursuing post-secondary education. The annual awards of $1,000 can be used toward the cost of tuition, day care while the mother is in school, or both.
Darcel worked full time all during her studies, as well as raising Davion, who is in ninth grade, and Destiny, who is in third. She acknowledges that it was “tough,” and is very grateful for the help she was able to get from the HOPE Network.
“I want to encourage every single mother to keep striving. It’s hard to live a life that wasn’t chosen, but it’s rewarding when you succeed with the hand that you were dealt,” she says.
Chineva was struggling at the time she applied for the grant. “I had no idea how I was going to finish school, but when I got that letter telling me that I was a scholarship winner, it was my answer.”
HOPE Network will award at least six $1,000 grants for the upcoming school year (fall 2016 & spring 2017 semesters). Applications, which are available at www.hopenetworkinc.org, must be postmarked by April 30.
An applicant must be a single mother of a child under 18 (or a single female legal guardian of a minor child), must be pursuing post-secondary education at a college or technical school, and must live in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, or Racine Counties. Applicants must be HOPE Network members, and they may join when they submit their grant applications. Grant winners are required to do 10 hours of volunteer work for HOPE Network or another local community organization before the end of 2016.
Applicants will need to print out the application form from HOPE Network’s website and submit it along with three photocopies of everything, as specified on the form.
HOPE Network is a volunteer-based, grass-roots support system providing emotional, educational, and material support to single pregnant women and single mothers and their children in the greater Milwaukee area. Key programs are: cribs and safe sleep education, 24-page quarterly resource newspaper, scholarships, clothing banks, and family events. HOPE Network was founded in 1982 by Menomonee Falls resident Gail Grenier Sweet. Since 1988, HOPE Network has awarded $82,000 in educational grants to 83 single mothers.