Our Story

The Dream

Chris Coffman - Helping Hands for Single MomsThe dream to assist low-income single moms with obtaining a college education was born in a most unusual way. In 2001, Chris Coffman was in his twentieth year of serving as a minister. Mr. Coffman was active in a local ministerial alliance when the group decided to become more engaged in serving the needs of the local community. It was decided that each pastor would be assigned an area to drive and look for potential needs.

It was on a warm spring morning when Mr. Coffman set out with a quick prayer. He hadn’t driven far when he was startled by a young boy, approximately 5 years old, walking alone on the sidewalk of a busy street. Mr. Coffman pulled alongside him and told the boy to meet him at the next corner and that the boy could not be out alone. A woman in a passing car also pulled in. Mr. Coffman and the woman, led by the boy, proceeded to walk him home. When they arrived at an old dilapidated house, they knocked and a young girl – perhaps 10 years old – answered. Observing the wide-eyed look on her face, Mr. Coffman asked her if this was her brother. She said yes. A second question followed “Are you supposed to be watching him?” “Yes.” As she opened the door to let her brother in, Mr. Coffman asked “Is your mother or father here?” She answered, “Just my mother lives here and she is asleep.”

They left the boy in his sister’s care and headed back to their vehicles. Suddenly Mr. Coffman remembered the task he was pursuing before he was interrupted. He was looking for needs in the community! Mr. Coffman had no idea where that short drive would take him. The dream of helping low-income single moms attend college was born in the days following that fortuitous journey.


Our Community Impact

Our community impact is extraordinary. Research shows that a child, where one parent has graduated college, is 70% more likely to graduate college and 80% less likely to live in poverty. A 2016 study by the non-profit “College Success Arizona” found that each college graduate contributes an average of $600,000 into the economy over their lifetime (in taxes paid, increased earnings, and reduced social services). Graduates from the Helping Hands for Single Moms program will have a major impact on their communities as they move their families off government assistance and become gainfully employed in their vocation. These women will purchase homes and cars while providing important community services as nurses, educators, social workers, and more.

Since 2002, Helping Hands for Single Moms has assisted hundreds of single moms in earning a college degree with a graduation rate over 78%. The average annual starting salary for our graduates is over $60,000, – a dramatic increase from the average $9,700 income reported on their initial scholarship application.