The 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.
In order to facilitate success, Helping Hands for Single Moms provides a supportive program.
Our Community Impact
Since our 2006 launch in Phoenix, 237 single moms have graduated with an average 3.2 GPA and near 80% graduation rate. In 2017 the average annual earnings of recent graduates was over $50,000, a dramatic increase from the $9,700 income reported on their initial scholarship application. College Success Arizona published a study demonstrating each college graduate over their lifetime contributes an average of $600,000 into the Arizona economy through taxes paid, increased pay, and reduced social services.
This means our graduates are on their way to contributing $144,000 million back into the Arizona economy. Though the economic impact of a college degree will vary from state to state, the Arizona study provides a basis for the statement “The Helping Hands for Single Moms program should be a component of any state’s plan for prosperity.” When you find a family in poverty – often you find a single mom struggling to provide for her family on one income, lacking an education or job skills.