Nearly two million single mothers attend college in the United States, representing one in 10 undergraduate students. Most (88%) live in or near poverty and their success is deeply intertwined with racial equity, as nearly one in three Black women and one in four Native women in college are single mothers.
Single mother students inherently understand the life-changing impact of a college degree. Single mothers with a high school diploma are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as single mothers with an associate degree. But just 11% of single mother students complete their associate degree on time.
As the only national funder focused on single mother students, ECMC Foundation’s initial investments since 2016 have laid the groundwork for needed systemic change, supporting grantee partners as they helped 15 community colleges better serve more than 19,000 single mother students and made the case for more than $42 million in additional state and federal funding toward student parents.
In 2021, ECMC Foundation announced a new $10 million commitment over the next five years to increase the share of single mother students who attain an associate degree within six years of enrolling at a community college to 25%.
By directing our investments toward community colleges and their students, we will reach the greatest share of single mother students, nearly half of whom attend community colleges, and ensure that single mothers have access to the training they need to secure good jobs with family-sustaining wages, like those in healthcare and information technology.
To meet this goal, we will focus our investments to:
These investments in single mothers will benefit all of us, not just from billions in increased tax revenue, but also in the future health and well-being of the next generation. Ensuring that single mothers realize their educational dreams also helps us see measurable progress on racial and gender equity, not just in higher education, but in society as a whole.