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Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund seeking students and volunteers


JASPER — Kim Paul-Williams, a program manager for the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF), visited the Newton County Community Matters coalition meeting last May 23, and described the program's mission to end single parent poverty through higher education.
College and technical training scholarships are available and the deadline to apply for the fall semester is June 15.
Applications for spring and summer semesters are also available.
Williams oversees the program in Region 1, consisting of Baxter, Boone, Newton, Searcy and Van Buren counties. She has been with the organization just over six years.
Newton County's volunteer committee meets at the Newton County Library the second Tuesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. The committee is currently seeking additional volunteers.
Volunteers support the mission by:
• Reviewing scholarship applications
• Assisting with fundraising activities
• Planning workshops
• Mentoring students.
A lot of our students come from generational poverty. Some of our students don't know how to prepare themselves for job interviews. Volunteers help provide personal and professional development that goes along with a college education, Paul-Williams said.
In addition there are programs available for meeting certain needs. One of these programs helps first time home buyers.

Paul-Williams related the story involving a young Newton County woman who became widowed with three children under the age of 5.
Through ASPSF assistance she was able to go to school to become a nurse and found local employment.
She attended the course that taught her how to build her credit. She was able to buy her first home last summer.
It's exciting to see how the program helped change her life," Paul-Williams said.
The main sources for scholarship funding comes from several Arkansas corporations and foundations. Smaller grants are received to fund development programs that teach basic skills such as sewing, cooking and automotive maintenance.
Fundraising is also vital and events are scheduled throughout the year in each county.
There are some individuals who make regular contributions to ASPSF.
The organization is seeking Give Every Month (GEM) donors. By setting up a recurring gift to ASPSF, these donations provide single parent students with job-skills training, grocery stipends, financial literacy workshops and emergency funds (For a $10 monthly donation the organization will give you a tote bag).
Since the pandemic the number of scholarship applicants have fallen, Paul-Williams said. "Tell people about us," she asked.
Full-time scholarships start at $1,600 for 12 or more hours per semester. Smaller scholarships are awarded according to credit hours taken. Students have to reapply each semester.
ASPSF students can be funded up to their earning a bachelors degree.
Life happens, and that is understandable, so returning students to the program are always prioritized, Paul-Williams said.