Poverty to prosperity: Nonprofit aims to transform lives of single mothers
A well-respected organization that helps single mothers and their children break the cycle of poverty has plans to expand into our area.
The Jeremiah Program, based out of Minneapolis, is in the early stages of adding a site in Rochester. The nonprofit will attempt to build roots in the community by taking advantage of an incubator space at the new Rochester Area Foundation building.
From there, organizers will begin planning and developing a local campus. The program, which has been serving families in the Twin Cities since 1997, is also expanding to several other metros across the country, including Fargo-Moorhead, Boston and Austin, Texas.
Marie Morris, a longtime local attorney, is leading the push to bring the Jeremiah Program to the area. In a recent interview, she said Rochester's higher learning institutions — like Rochester Community and Technical College — and low unemployment make the city an attractive location for the program.
"They want communities that have a lot of educational choices,” she said. "We want these women to be able to get a job right after they complete the program."
By providing single mothers with early childhood education and an affordable place to live, the program helps stabilize families and find them a path out of poverty through education and empowerment.
"And the model seems to work: Almost all the program’s graduates earn some sort of college degree, while the remainder complete certificate programs," noted an article published in The Atlantic this past summer. "More than 90 percent of its recent graduates are employed or continuing their education."
The next step for the local chapter will be finding community partners and forming an advisory board. Morris said a nonprofit housing organization has already expressed interest in building a campus in Rochester.
A group of local business leaders are hosting an open house for the Jeremiah Program on Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at the Rochester Area Foundation. The organization's CEO, Gloria Perez, will speak at the event.
The open house is free to attend, though donations will be accepted. An anonymous donor has agreed to match contributions up to $5,000.
About Sean Baker: Sean is the founder and editor of the Med City Beat. Under his direction, the site has transitioned from a small news blog to one of the most widely-read publications in the city. Prior to launching the site in 2014, Sean spent about two years producing television news in Green Bay and Rochester. His office is above a brewery, so please excuse any typos. Twitter.
(Cover photo: Charity and Andre / Jeremiah Program)