Austin nursing student and mother of two Deja was working hard to complete her degree, but still struggled to make ends meet while staying focused on her rigorous program. That all changed when she began participating in United Way for Greater Austin’s Parenting Students Project.
Watch the video below:
A partnership between United Way and Austin Community College, the Parenting Students Project supports parenting students, ages 18-29, with financial incentives and wrap-around support to help them complete post-secondary education. The pilot is spearheaded by Annie E Casey Foundation’s Expanding Opportunities for Young Families initiative, and is supported by Advance Together, and American Rescue Plan Act funds from the City of Austin.
Students who are enrolled full-time earn a cash transfer or stipend of up to $6,000 per year, and also have access to child care scholarships, emergency cash assistance, a peer community, advising, tutoring, and other vital services.
The Parenting Students Project is one of several 2-Gen (2-Generation) programs run by United Way as part of our collective impact work to fight poverty, serving parents and children simultaneously to promote better financial outcomes for both generations.
Deja was one of the first students to participate in the program.
“This program has been extremely helpful for my family and I,” Deja said. “It allows me to focus all of my attention on nursing school and make sure I stay on track and graduate.”
Deja spends around 20 to 30 hours outside of school on her studies. Rather than having to work a part-time job on the side, her monthly stipend from the program allows her to spend her free time with her kids.
“I’m not constantly worrying about money to pay for bills and take care of my kids,” she said. “I am able to spend extra time with them instead of [working] a part-time job, and I’m able to buy them gifts to show how much I appreciate them.”
Father and ACC student Tommy says the support from the program–both financial and social–has been life-changing.
“I can focus more on school and being a parent,” he said. “It’s been very nice to have that extra income coming in that I can delegate to bills or expenses. It’s also been nice to have that support system there and hear what other parents are going through and help each other.”
Young parenting students leave school for preventable reasons – lack of child care, inability to rebound from costly emergencies, and family financial responsibilities. They begin education pathways to living wage employment, but under pressure to support their families, exit as soon as they can make slightly more money – often after only the first course. That’s why we’re working to build better support systems for parenting students, to ensure all families in our community have the opportunity to thrive.
Learn more about our 2-Gen programs.