Jeremiah Program broke ground on its new Fargo-Moorhead campus in early June. The new campus, located at 3104 Fiechtner Drive South in Fargo, will provide safe and affordable housing for 20 determined, low-income families, as well as an on-site early childhood education center, classrooms where the mothers can build confidence and life skills, and spaces where they can meet with coaches to support them in achieving a career-track, college education.
“We have worked hard together to get to this day,” said Diane Solinger, Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead Executive Director. “Many of our community board of trustees and supporters have been with us since the very beginning, even through the peaks and valleys. They have given us unwavering commitment, and together we are building a campus to bring this excitement to life.”
Why is this campus and Jeremiah important to Fargo-Moorhead? Currently, more than 2,300 single mothers are living in poverty in the Fargo-Moorhead area, a number that has increased 16 percent over the last six years. The majority of these mothers have children under the age of four with fewer than half of them enrolled in pre-school.
Today a college degree is needed to move a family out of the poverty level. Mothers without support systems often drop out of college because they are facing too many more obstacles. Jeremiah gives mothers the support system they need to succeed. The college completion rate for a Jeremiah mother is nearly 70 percent. From a recent survey of alumae from the past five years, women reported an average income of $47,609 and a 77 percent decreased reliance on public assistance.
“This vision was born in Fargo seven years ago. It took a long time to bear this child, but what a child it has born” said Michael J. O’Connell, Jeremiah Program Visionary Founder.
There are many community partners involved in making the campus possible:
- Catholic Health Initiatives
- North Dakota Housing Finance Agency
- Barry Foundation
- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Affordable Housing Program
- Otto Bremer Foundation
- Roers Foundation
- Margret A. Cargill Foundation
Although the building won’t be ready for several months, the work toward assisting Fargo-Moorhead families began several years ago with initial empowerment and life skills courses. In May, Jeremiah Fargo- Moorhead graduated mothers from its sixth empowerment training, a prerequisite course for the program. The 12-week course focuses on several concepts including effective conflict management, assertive communication and personal accountability. Once completed, Jeremiah mothers participate in a life-skills class, which emphasizes career development, parenting, personal financial management and health/wellness.