Kenita experienced the roadblocks that prevent single parents from prospering firsthand. Now, she’s working to remove them.
I started H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People be Empowered) based on my life story. Since the age of 6, I wanted to be a doctor. When I learned I was pregnant with my son at 20, I felt that residency and parenting might not be the best fit. So I chose the next closest profession, a nurse practitioner. I went to class every day until my due date but found a roadblock once my son was born. Child care costs were as much as market value rent. When I tried to get government assistance and apply for the state’s child care program, I was denied because I was a four-year college student.
With the demands of nursing school, full-time work was not an option. Factoring in child care costs, I ended up living in income-based housing in downtown Atlanta. I had one year of nursing school left when I realized I was pregnant with my second son. The instructors begged me to sit out for a year, but I refused because I knew I had to get my sons into a safer environment. I pushed myself so hard that I became ill and unable to complete clinicals without restrictions. I switched my major to business administration and concentrated on healthcare management.
It took me 10 years to get my bachelor’s degree. If I had the resources H.O.P.E. provides, I could have graduated in six years or less and probably would have become that nurse practitioner I strived so hard to be.
My formative moments
When I needed help, I found that much of the financial support offered was in the form of one-time emergency assistance. There was nothing ongoing that would help a single parent obtain an education, ultimately helping to break the cycle of poverty in our community. More than 22% of undergraduate students are parents, and more than half of student parents raise their children alone. Single-parent students are more likely to have low incomes and struggle to pay tuition, rent, and child care. But if we eliminate these barriers, they are more likely to graduate, purchase homes, pay taxes, and give to charities.
Single parents are some of the most driven people on the planet, but they often are inaccurately stereotyped and labeled.
I have never wanted to become a statistic and confirm society’s view of me as a single parent.
I worked to defy the odds, and I wanted to find a demographic of single parents (male and female) like me that were determined and driven not to be the single parent you typically read about.
A cycle of prosperity for single parents
The effects of racial inequality ripple throughout the United States, specifically impacting educational opportunities. H.O.P.E is offering Black single parents supportive services to ensure they can graduate and confront racial inequalities in Atlanta. Although our services are available to all ethnicities, the majority of the single parents in our program are African American.
As a Black-led and Black-serving organization in Atlanta, we are building wealth in the Black community and securing a future for low-income children. Many Black Americans in our community weren’t taught about financial literacy because their parents didn’t have the same financial opportunities afforded to white people. Therefore, H.O.P.E. believes in providing single parents the tools necessary to make wise financial decisions and build financial security for themselves and their children. Teaching minority communities about wealth building, credit, debt elimination, and investing helps strengthen our community.
Support Kenita’s mission to create a cycle of prosperity for single parents by helping them access the resources they need to thrive.
Featured Photo: COVID-19 Relief for Atlanta-Area Single Parents by H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People be Empowered)