The best way to lift children out of poverty is to educate their mothers. That philosophy led to the founding of the Union Institute & University Women in Union scholarship program, an innovative tuition approach to support mothers who urgently need financial assistance to complete their degree.
Today, four women join the more than 40 inspiring women who have received the scholarship and gone on to earn college degrees since the program’s inception. The latest recipients are Christina Avila, Monique Parish, Karen Sheffer, and Kimberly Sims.
“Union is a change agent in these women’s lives,” said Donna Gruber, Cincinnati Center Executive Director. “A college degree changes lives. Research shows that only 16 percent of women who raise their children as single parents have earned a college degree and children in these homes are five times more likely to live below the poverty line. We are working to change that data, but more importantly, working with these women to change the outcome.” (Census (2010), National Center for Children in Poverty)
Carolyn Krause, Vice President of Advancement, works alongside the Women in Union program to partner with foundations, corporations, and individual donors to provide scholarship support. The most recent grant is from U.S. Bank Foundation.
“This is the fifth year that we have received a grant from the U.S. Bank Foundation as they continue to provide the financial assistance for these women to return to their education and make a better life for themselves and their families,” said Krause. “It is the ongoing benevolence of corporations and foundations that make the Women in Union possible. We are proud of our scholarship recipients. They are working moms – and sometimes even grandmothers – who are fulfilling lifelong dreams but also serving as great role models for their children – and their communities.”
Initiated with a seed grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, other philanthropic organizations that have provided support:
Western & Southern Financial Group
U.S. Bank Foundation
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation – The Helen Steiner Rice Fund
The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Women in Union recipients have earned degrees in social work, early childhood studies, criminal justice management, business administration, and maternal child health/lactation consulting. The recipients reflect Union’s demographics of serving minorities (44 percent), women (56 percent), and an older, adult population (average age of 39).