Thankfully, there are organizations dedicated solely to mitigating the strain on
single parents, and one, in particular, has made obtaining a degree less stressful.
Since its inception, the Single Parent Scholarship Fund has awarded 619 scholarships totaling $298,726. It helps struggling parents, grandparents and guardians seeking to improve their own lives and instill the importance of education in their children.
The scholarships are made possible through fundraising, grants and donations gathered throughout the year. Once all the funds have been raised, the Single
Parent Fund of Arkansas matches that amount, and the scholarships are awarded.
“Our partnership with the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Arkansas is definitely advantageous. (We) are without a doubt, a working committee, though. We are all active all year long raising money, and everyone on the committee brings something important to the table,” said Carla Mouton, chairwoman of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Garland County.
The overall mission is to break the cycle of generational poverty by helping single parents obtain a postsecondary education. The effort has proved successful; 80 percent of scholarship recipients have gone on to graduate from their respective programs.
The biggest fundraiser the scholarship puts on is its annual Single Parent Scholarship Luncheon and Style Show. This is the eighth year for the fashion show, and it features collections from businesses including Chantilly Boutique, Grow, Pink Avenue and Grand Lagniappe Shoppe.
“It is such a good cause, so I like to participate in furthering its success. I had a former employee who is a single parent, and the scholarship was essential for their success. I saw this, and decided I wanted to contribute to the scholarship fund in some way,” said Marcia Smith, owner of Grand Lagniappe Shoppe.
Smith has been part of the fashion show every year but one, and for five years she was the only boutique participating. She’s getting involved again this year and looks forward to showing off some of her best “art to wear.”
Each shop is responsible for providing their own models for the show. They do their best to include models of all shapes and sizes, and some even make it a point to use actual single parents as models.
“People want to see what these clothes look like on regular people,” said Smith.
“We have fashions for all ages and sizes. We want to be inclusive,” added Mouton.
The fashion show takes place April 20 at Hot Springs Country Club. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., with lunch served at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by going to http://tinyurl. com/zkymm3p. There will be a silent auction and cash wine bar benefiting the scholarship fund, as well as door prizes awarded during the event.
“We try to make it as casual and efficient as possible. Our goal is to avoid having our guests sitting around waiting for the next thing to happen,” said Mouton.
Each year graduates awarded the scholarship return and speak to attendees about the impact it made on their educational journey. The program has touched the lives of hundreds of single parents in Garland County, and its testimoni- als, like the ones given at the lun- cheon, encourage people to keep donating to the fund, she said.
“Most people come away heart- ened by the touching stories from these young people. It leaves you seeing things through a new per- spective,” said Mouton.
Those eligible to receive the scholarship must be enrolled full- or part-time in college, a technical training or vocational program. They must also be residents of Garland County, low-income and have a high school education or GED certificate.
The scholarship can be used to cover a number of expenses, including books, child care and even gasoline. It is up to the discretion of the scholarship recipient how to use the funds. Lifting typical restrictions of other scholarships benefit single parents especially because their needs often exceed those of a traditional student.
The application deadline for the fall semester is June 30, and the one for the spring semester is Dec. 31. For more information about the scholarship fund, visit http://www. aspsf.org or call 501-760-4129.