Moving Families from Poverty to Prosperity Two Generations at a Time

Posted on July 13, 2017 by Joseph Brown

“I didn’t think I could be a good mom, but then I learned that I wasn’t the only one thinking that. There were other mothers who were having similar experiences. I wasn’t alone. It’s a sisterhood here.”

These are the words of Charity, who, after leaving a controlling relationship with her son’s father, moved in with her parents. Trapped in the cycle of poverty, she did not know the true extent of her skills and the educational opportunities available to help her succeed. She had little direction in how to manage the chaos around her. “I didn’t know what do to,” she said. That is, until her older sister recommended she turn to Jeremiah Program.

Jeremiah Program helps lift families from poverty to prosperity by providing single-mothers with the tools to succeed in the workplace and in higher education, while also delivering quality early childhood education combined with a safe, affordable place to live. Their goal is to transform lives two generations at a time in a safe and supportive community — a sisterhood, indeed.

Today, Charity and her son Andre are well on the path to success. Charity has successfully completed two semesters at North Hennepin Community College with a 3.5 GPA, and she intends to finish her associate degree at Minneapolis Community and Technical College before transferring to Metro State in preparation to become a middle school teacher. “I am proving I can be a successful student,” Charity says. “Before I started at Jeremiah, I really didn’t know my worth.”

Andre is also thriving at Jeremiah in the toddler room, happy and interactive with the other children.

What is Jeremiah Program?

It began in 1993 in Minneapolis when Michael J. O’Connell assembled the city’s business, education, government, and philanthropy leaders to break the cycle of poverty shackling single-mothers and their children. Jeremiah Program’s president and CEO today, Gloria Perez, is familiar with the amazing work community-based organizations can do to break the cycle of poverty. After her father died when she was 10 years old, Gloria watched as her mother pursued a college degree. She witnessed and experienced herself the impactful work performed by organizations working to empower individuals to transform their own lives. With experience in domestic violence, education, and intervention, Gloria has worked with Jeremiah Program for 19 years, helping transform the lives of single-mothers and their families trapped in the cycle of poverty.

Jeremiah Program provides five essential services to single-mothers and their children that form the necessary foundation to empower them to escape poverty and achieve prosperity.

  • Providing safe and affordable housing to mothers and their children.
  • Introducing an intentional community — a “sisterhood,” as Charity calls it — that is extremely supportive in helping single-mothers in similar situations realize that they are not alone and that others are going through similar hardships.
  • Delivering quality early childhood education, which provides the children of these mothers with the skills and tools to later find their own success.
  • Offering empowerment and life skills training, which includes conflict management, assertive communication, and personal accountability.
  • Lending support for a career-track, college education, which offers even greater opportunities in the workforce.


With these five services, Jeremiah has learned that helping empower individuals toward a transformed life can be accomplished two generations at a time.

Jeremiah’s Success

Graduates from Jeremiah Program see significant financial success in the workforce. The average annual income of Jeremiah graduates from the past five years exceeds $47,000. Additionally, 68 percent see an increase in their earnings since their start at Jeremiah, 70 percent complete college, and 100 percent can afford safe housing. Seventy-seven percent of graduates significantly reduce their reliance on public assistance programs. Indeed, for every 100 mothers that Jeremiah matriculates, society receives nearly $16 million in net benefits, and every dollar invested in their early childhood care saves at least $7 in social costs.

But, the tools and skills that Jeremiah Program provide are not only financial. With these benefits, single-mothers are able to thrive in their work, their families, and their communities. Their success is seen not only in themselves, but in their families and communities, too. Their children receive an early start in school, which puts them ahead of the curve in education and in life. In fact, 88 percent of children in Jeremiah child development centers are performing above age appropriate developmental benchmarks. For mothers and their children at Jeremiah, they are given a chance at a transformed life.

Jeremiah Today

Since its beginning, Jeremiah Program has expanded to St. Paul, Minnesota, and Austin, Texas. Currently, it is breaking ground in Fargo, North Dakota-Moorhead, Minnesota, providing safe and affordable housing to 20 low-income families. Located at 3104 Fiechtner Drive South in Fargo, the Jeremiah program is bringing its proven results to more families determined to break out of the cycle of poverty. Years before establishing a safe housing campus in Fargo-Moorhead, Jeremiah Program began offering empowerment and life skills courses in the community. In fact, in May, they graduated mothers from their sixth empowerment training program. This month, the Fargo-Moorhead Jeremiah Program celebrated raising nearly $40,000 in grants in support of their programming, which will help initiate even more mothers into the program.

Jeremiah Program is partnering with leading organizations in Boston to replicate its model. Jeremiah Program is also working to expand to Charlottesville, Virginia, Rochester, Minnesota, and Brownsville, New York.

Standing Together with Jeremiah Program

Jeremiah Program is a 2017 Stand Together Foundation Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Jeremiah Program receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and expand their reach. Browse our Catalyst Network page for more information about our Catalysts Network and Program.