Helping Hands for Single Moms USA (Helping Hands USA) is a grass-roots nonprofit organization that supports impoverished single mom families with various forms of assistance while the moms pursue a college education and financial independence.

After over a decade of helping hundreds of single mothers earn a college degree, Helping Hands USA has launched its first affiliate organization Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson (Helping Hands Tucson). The expansion developed in response to increasing requests by communities outside of Phoenix asking for help establishing a similar program in their local areas.

According to a 2014 report issued by Grand Canyon Institute, women are the head of household in 79 percent of low income single parent homes. For these women, attaining a higher education will result in higher earning levels, according to consistent study findings. Graduates of this program are receiving an average annual salary of over $45,000, approximately $15,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma or GED. “Education is a catalyst for helping single moms earn a livable wage and escape the cycle of poverty, thus contributing to the overall growth of our economy,” says Lia Pierse, Executive Director for Helping Hands Tucson.


2015-community-impactThanks to the early support of community partners and donors,Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson (HHT) has been able to successfully launch in the Tucson community, establish partnerships with local businesses, foundations and service providers and position itself for future growth. Because of donors like you, we have been able to make a significant impact in the lives of single mothers in Pima county as summarized in our program update.

Thank you for ongoing support and confidence in Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson.



When a single mom first enrolls in college, her family situation often becomes worse before it gets better. In addition to midterms, finals and term papers, the single mom must attempt to live on inadequate financial resources while maintaining a household, managing transportation challenges, and nurturing her children. She is juggling school, family and work while facing loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem. Together, these are significant challenges that often converge and can lead to dropping out of school.

In order to facilitate success, Helping Hands Tucson provides scholarships, services, peer-to-peer mentoring, gifts for children and ongoing support to single moms aiming to improve their family’s lives. Program eligibility and scholarship applications may be found here.

Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson, welcomes community involvement through the following opportunities:

• Help a single mom obtain a college education and financial independence by making a tax-deductible donation
• Become a community partner by donating in-kind services
• Sponsor a table for the upcoming Eddie Johnson and Friends Hoops for Single Moms (see video below) annual fundraising event (Contact Lia Pierse for additional information)
• Donate gifts for the annual Holiday Happiness event
• Volunteer your time and expertise
• Contact Lia Pierse to discuss other philanthropic opportunities


Community partners play an instrumental role in the success of our single moms. Your support enables single moms to earn a college degree, thereby improving their family’s lives and escaping the cycle of poverty. Thank you to the following community partners for your generous support:

  • Jim Click Automotive Team
  • Steele Foundation
  • Sundt Foundation
  • United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
  • Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • Zukerman Community Outreach Foundation
  • Tucson Botanical Gardens

To discuss partnership opportunities, contact Lia Pierse.

Our Moms – Our Stories

Manuela’s Story

Manuela Garrido decided it was time to go back to school after her husband of 15 years left her and her three children. He just decided he didn’t want a family life anymore, Manuela said. When he left, he did not go amiably. She recounted how he disabled her van and trashed her home, which led to his arrest and domestic-violence charges. Eventually, she was awarded child support, only he wasn’t paying it. Now his wages are garnished, and she receives the monthly help of $583, but she said he’s on probation at his work, so she doesn’t know how long the assistance will last.

His absence left her the task of figuring out, in a hurry, how she was going to pay her bills and take care of her children. One child with asthma-related health problems and no family nearby to help, she said going back to school seemed like a smart idea.


In the News

Laptops, tampons and leadership

Single Mom College Community, Board, Guest Speakers and Staff

Single Mom College Community, Board, Guest Speakers and Staff

On Aug. 27, about a dozen recipients of the Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson Scholarship and three guest speakers met to share stories of perseverance and success, and to receive new laptops, donated by Raytheon. The diverse group of women, all pursuing degrees while juggling the responsibilities of single-motherhood, come from different places and are headed toward various careers, but they share a common experience.




We were featured in the Arizona Sonora News: Single mothers struggle for education.

Helping Hands for Single Moms was also higlighted on KGUN9’s Morning Blend:



“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

-Nelson Mandela

tucson2Lia brings nearly 15 years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to Helping Hands for Single Moms Tucson. Lia previously worked for the Eller College of Management as Associate Director of Development and Stewardship. Prior to Eller, Lia worked at the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona for 12 years driving a comprehensive donor development program. She moved to Tucson in 1997 on a full athletic scholarship from Pima Community College where she obtained an associate degree in Business Administration. As a single mom to two children, Alysa, 14, and Ayden, 10, Lia attended Northern Arizona University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management. She enjoys spending time with family, playing and coaching soccer, and maintaining a fit and active lifestyle. Email: [email protected] Phone: (520) 878-6959