Scholarships will be awarded to single parents

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Scholarships will be awarded to single parents


Social Services--Single Parent Scholarship Foundation, Community Organizations--Urban Exchange Center, Education--Higher--University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Education--Higher--Parkland College, Family, Economy, Media--News-Gazette


URBANA – After Maria Thompson started researching the Champaign-Urbana area, she knew her foundation could help one of the community's underrepresented groups.

Thompson, founder of the Single Parent Scholarship Foundation, discovered there were 3,000 single parents in the area without a bachelor's degree.

"They are pretty much stressed just working full time to provide for their family," said Thompson, whose foundation helps single-parent college students pay for tuition, books and fees along with counseling, mentoring and tutoring support. "For whatever reason, they chose not to go back to college."

That realization prompted her to contact the University of Illinois, which contributed a $15,000 Partnership Illinois Fund seed grant.

The money will cover operating expenses, hiring a consultant and a UI graduate student from the School of Social Work. Once the program begins this fall, officials will set their sights on finding scholarship funding.

"It helps the single parents who are predominately low-income," added Thompson, who started the foundation three years ago. "To have support and go back to college will increase the single parents' chances for self-sufficiency and a higher paying job."

Last year, two Parkland College students received scholarships.

One of the recipients, Barbara McKee, saw any financial help as a blessing. She received $375, which she used to pay some of her rent. The money was timely, considering her car broke down this month.

"Every little bit helps," said McKee.

McKee, 43, has been a single parent for five years and has children ranging from 2 to 15 years old. She said receiving the scholarship gave her a sense of pride and accomplishment.

"It is hard to be a single parent because you take care of the family at home and then do work on top of that, and nobody is there to pat you on the back," McKee said. "Getting the scholarship is kind of like getting support and having someone say, 'We know what you are doing is difficult, and you should be rewarded for that.'"

She plans to graduate in May 2005 with a degree in nursing and work in a hospital critical care wing.

The university will be a resource in many ways for the program. Eric Hadley-Ives, assistant professor at the UI in the School of Social Work, will be a board member on the foundation's advisory board and will organize research on single parents. He said students in his department will get hands-on experience working with the foundation, including a graduate student who will become an intern as part of an assistantship.

Kris Campbell, an assistant chancellor for the UI, said the university has offered office space for the program at the Civitas/Urban Exchange Center, 112 W. Main St., U. Campbell, who also oversees the Partnership Illinois Fund, said she appreciated an outside organization taking the initiative to contact the university.

"This was an unusual situation. Typically we are going out to the community to find ways to link up," she said. "This was the first one where a community program came to the university and saw that we could provide them with some support. We are encouraged that this may lead to more collaboration between the community and the university."

Photo caption: Single Parent Scholarship Foundation founder Maria Thompson and Single Parent Scholarship Foundation board member Eric Hadley-Ives stand in front of the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois in Urbana last week. Photographer: by Robin Scholz


Ernst Lamothe Jr.




January 26 2004


Robin Scholz



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Ernst Lamothe Jr., “Scholarships will be awarded to single parents,” eBlack Champaign-Urbana, accessed December 10, 2019,

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