SPSF is an affiliate of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Established in 1990 as a solution to helping severely impoverished single-parents, ASPSF was modeled on successful incentive scholarship funds in two northwest Arkansas counties. ASPSF’s mission is to assist low-income single parents to complete their post-secondary education in preparation for skilled employment. Affiliates are strategically placed at the county level. Organizing, governing, and fundraising is done at the local level ensuring that money raised contributes to the local organization and economic community.
The ASPSF is a private, nonprofit corporation with 501(c)3 status granted by the Internal Revenue Service. Governed by a twenty-one member board of directors representing Arkansas’ racial, economic, and geographic diversity, the ASPSF headquarters is located in Springdale, Arkansas.
Currently, affiliate organizations representing every county in Arkansas administer Single Parent Scholarships to deserving single parents. As of October 1, 2012, these affiliates awarded a combined total of 31,279 scholarships worth $17,322,359. A comprehensive recipient follow-up study completed in 2010 revealed an 82% retention and graduation rate and a 70% employment rate at above poverty-level income among working graduates. The report also found that nearly 32% of students who graduated from post-secondary programs were continuing in school to further their education.
A Delta Scholarship Project was initiated in 2000 to spur an increase in scholarship awards available in eastern Arkansas. As of October 1, 2012, Delta-region affiliates awarded a combined total of 6,828 scholarships worth $2,952,158. Funding of this initiative has been provided by private foundations, businesses, individuals, and the Arkansas Office of Community Services.
The concept of a community-based scholarship fund aimed at encouraging and supporting the educational and training aspirations of impoverished single parents has been well accepted. Local leaders have so enthusiastically supported this opportunity to help these single mothers and fathers attain self-sufficiency that they have brought hundreds of volunteers into service on governing boards of directors. These volunteers administer the local scholarship program, recruit applicants and select awardees, raise awareness and support of the program, and raised money in match of ASPSF grants. About 75% of all dollars awarded through our program derives from contributions made by local businesses, civic organizations, churches, family foundations, and individuals.
In recognition of the need to create a permanent source of financial support for the organization, the Harvey and Bernice Jones Charitable Trust, through a challenge grant program, enabled the ASPSF to establish a permanent endowment in 2002 that has since reached nearly $2 million.
Nearly one in five Arkansas families are led by single parents, of which 80% are single mothers. An estimated 43% of single-parent families live below the poverty line (2008-2010 American Community Survey.) We believe single-parent families that are led by skilled and educated mothers and fathers have a much greater opportunity to achieve self sufficiency and a better quality of life, generation after generation. A skilled workforce also helps the economic condition of our communities and boosts our state’s ability to compete in the global market.