HARRISBURG -- A successful initiative at Misericordia University that has been helping single, low-income women with children create a brighter future for themselves and their families has earned state funding to help launch similar programs across the state.

The $2.5 million allocation approved in Pennsylvania’s 2019-20 budget will be used to provide startup funds for colleges that are interested in replicating Misericordia University’s Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program under the Parent Pathways initiative.

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th, brought the innovative program to the attention of the Wolf Administration two years ago.

“We wanted to showcase what Misericorida was doing to reduce reliance on government programs by empowering economically disadvantaged single mothers,” Baker said. “Offering them some extra support to complete their college degrees provides them with a better chance at finding a family-sustaining career.

What officials saw made an impact, eventually leading to a visit from the Governor himself.

“Upon touring the program and meeting with the student mothers and children in one of three homes we have on campus, the governor saw first-hand ways to improve access to higher education for single parents and help them balance family obligations, work and schooling,” said program director Katherine Pohlidal. “While on campus, he announced his Parent Pathways initiative that will help break the two-generation cycle of poverty this state and nation faces.”

Misericordia established its program in 2000, which provides free housing and a host of services to single moms pursuing degrees at the university, and has improved the lives of more than 30 graduates to date. One hundred percent of alums have entered professional careers or graduate school, with many of their children now entering college themselves. 

“This is a program with a lot of heart but nothing of a handout,” noted Baker. “When a woman graduates, the positive results reach beyond her personal growth. She sets an indelible example for her kids and for other struggling moms.”

“The funding will be used by universities to open doors for single mothers that may have remained closed,” she added.

“We thank state Sen. Lisa Baker for her support of Misericordia University and the Bourger Program, and for helping us showcase our efforts to Gov. Tom Wolf,” Pohlidal added. “Our entire legislative delegation have been tremendous advocates.”