Women play an increasingly important role in American society and the American economy. That role looks set to increase, as women now outnumber men in college, accounting for 55% of all four-year undergraduates. However, a variety of life circumstances and institutional biases still result in women earning significantly less than their male counterparts do. Women are far more likely to be single parents than men, and nearly 1 in 3 single mothers lives in poverty. Many American women can use a little help, and in some cases, a grant might provide that help.
Many federal, state, local, and private programs exist to help give mothers, in particular, a helping hand, which includes some educational grants programs, health programs, and other forms of financial and housing assistance. Women in the U.S. can benefit from some programs designed to help them achieve and thrive on an equal footing despite difficult circumstances.
Education and On the Job Training
Education is one of the best ways to achieve success and navigate the difficulties of life. Many programs exist to aid women in finding equal educational opportunities. The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards give $1.7 million in education grants every year to women seeking to change their lives through educational attainment. The program focuses specifically on low-income women, although most awards go to those who have overcome great hardships in life in general. Awards range from $3,000 to $5,000.
The Education Support Award is a grant from The Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation that provides $3000 to low-income mothers who are interested in pursuing higher education through a skill training program, vocational school or university.
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEO) Grant helps low-income undergraduate students who demonstrate an exceptional need for financial assistance for their education. Awards range from $100 to $4000. If you’re currently pursuing your degree and find yourself struggling financially, you may meet the minimum requirements for this grant.
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides grants to those low-income students who have a high need for financial assistance. The amount can be up to $5,550 depending on financial need.
Housing can be a challenge, especially for single parents. There are grants available for those who may need assistance with housing or related expenses.
The Bridge of Hope organization works with local churches and charities to help single mothers and other women who are at risk of homelessness. The program works by getting groups of people from local churches to provide the necessary support women need to keep homelessness at bay and regain independence.
The Section 8 Housing Voucher Program helps the neediest families afford safe and livable rental housing. The program provides vouchers that help with rental costs, which can include the cost of federal or state-funded housing or independent housing opportunities. Section 8 Vouchers may cover a significant portion of your rent and utility costs.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers one-time financial assistance for low-income households who may not be able to afford their home heating or cooling bills.
Women with families at risk of homelessness should seek out the Family Unification Program (FUP). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides this program to help keep families together, especially in the face of homelessness. Families with children at risk of losing their homes get top priority for free housing.
The YWCA Transitional Housing Program focuses specifically on single mothers who are in need of financial assistance and housing. The program helps prevent and keep single mothers from homelessness.
Food Aid and Assistance
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is essential for low-income women with children. WIC provides low-income mothers, whether single or married, with food aid assistance. The purpose of WIC is to prevent malnutrition in mothers with children that might result in childhood growth issues. The program specifically targets women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or with small children.
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) helps all low-income individuals and families, but women will find value in this program, whether single, with children, without children or married, as SNAP offers free aid to purchase food at most major grocery stores.
Small Business Grants and Assistance for Women
If you have ever dreamed of working for yourself or owning a small business, you know that starting and growing a business can be expensive. Luckily, there are grants available for those interested in owning or expanding a small business.
The Small Business Administration offers support to small businesses, and especially women with SMBs. It provides numerous financial assistance programs in the way of low-interest loans and other resources for those just starting out. The amount of money available will vary depending on how much they award the business owners. The SBA also runs the InnovateHER Challenge, which offers up to $40,000 for women starting small businesses.
Innovative female business owners should look into the NIH Small Business Innovation Research. SBIR was implemented by Congress and awards around $2 billion to small businesses each year. The eligibility requirements are that you own a business with less than 500 employees, have your business located in the U.S. and that you must be a U.S. citizen. The amount of grant money depends on your type of business and long-term goals.
If you are considering going back to school, finding adequate housing for you and your family, seeking food aid assistance or starting up a small business, don’t delay! There are grants and other assistance programs available that will fit your needs and can make your future more secure. These opportunities are designed to benefit both you and your family.
You can communicate with the agencies and organizations discussed here at these links:
Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards
Education Support Award
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEO) Grant
Federal Pell Grant Program
Bridge of Hope
Section 8 Housing Voucher Program
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Family Unification Program (FUP)
YWCA Transitional Housing Program
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
Small Business Administration
NIH Small Business Innovation Research
1. “On campus, women outnumber men more than ever” . BostonGlobe.com
2. “The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay” . PewResearch.org
3. “National Snapshot: Poverty Among Women & Families, 2015” . NWLC.org