RSU’s SMILE Program Receives Grant Funding

Chantel studying while her son colors.

Chantel Reben helps her son with homework.

The Single Mothers Inspiring Lifelong Education program at Rogers State University received another year of grant funding from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma to provide resources and support for single mothers furthering their education.

“We are grateful that the WFO recognized RSU’s continuing efforts to support and encourage single mother students with our fourth grant award,” Dr. Heidi Hoskinson, vice president for admissions, said. “These funds will allow us to continue to provide opportunities and services to single moms that support their persistence in college and, ultimately, allow them to achieve their goal of earning a college degree.”   

The SMILE program began in 2017 and has served more than 300 single mothers. Services provided have included paid internship opportunities, support gatherings, supplying highchairs and booster seats in campus eating areas, finals study session with provided childcare and back to school and holiday gift drives.

“All the events we facilitate for SMILE encourages degree completion. The Christmas program specifically provides gifts so that the mothers don’t have to worry about finding an additional job to provide a special Christmas for their children,” Kayla Conkling, student engagement specialist, said. “This program provides the complete support and encouragement to not only do well in college but succeed in all areas of their life.”

RSU also receives private funding from donors who specifically designated their generosity to the SMILE initiative. It’s often financial challenges that derail a single mom’s educational career.

Established in 2003, the WFO advocates positive change for Oklahoma women and girls. Born out of the generosity of Merle Chambers, WFO was founded to give back to the state of Oklahoma in a unique and deliberate way. She believes that when women are empowered, the whole community flourishes.

The WFO is committed to providing ongoing support to low-income single mothers working to complete their post-secondary education at Oklahoma colleges and universities. The key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty lies in access to education and additional resources.

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