‘Womenrise’ scholarship program helps single mothers pay for childcare

Deciding to advance your education always comes at a cost. And for single mothers, the financial burden can be even more difficult.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 3:56 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is helping single mothers take the next step to further their education through the Womenrise program.

The scholarship program pays for childcare while the single mother takes classes.

“It’s so expensive for a two-parent household to afford childcare, let alone a single parent,” said Samantha McCabe, the Director of Major Gifts at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg.

Virginia is ranked 10th in the country for the most expensive childcare at an average cost of more than $14,000 per year, about 47% of a single parent’s median income, according to Child Care Aware of Virginia. That impacted the decision to create this volunteer-run program.

“There are a lot of scholarships out there for tuition coverage, but we offer scholarships for single moms who are in school or career training,” said McCabe.

Single mothers pursuing their education can fill out a free application online.

The money is raised through grants, donations and fundraisers, then paid directly to the childcare provider. One local recipient, Holly Duncan, says not having to worry about paying that childcare bill gives her a chance to spend quality time with her children.

“You have more opportunity and time and expenses to afford things like going to a baseball game with your kid, doing something fun with your kid or children that you wouldn’t normally be able to do under other circumstances,” she said.

Womenrise started about 3 years ago with six women. Now, there are expected to be more than 20 women participating, and applications are still open.

Duncan says the program provides more than just money.

“Because of the ladies that mentor us and reach out to us and make sure we’re doing well and offering extra help should we need it,” she said.

Duncan explained that she feels incredibly blessed to be a part of this program and wants to inspire her kids.

“I wanted to show my children anything is possible, no matter how old you are,” Duncan said. “You can do it if you put your mind and heart into it.”