Catholic Social Services receives $1.5M donation to fight poverty

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

The John T. Vucurevich Foundation has announced a nearly $1.5 million donation to help single parents in the Black Hills.

The Uplifting Parents Program (Program UP), which is administered through Catholic Social Services, is partnering with the University of Notre Dame's Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities. Through the partnership, the organizations hope to fight poverty and give single parents the tools to overcome challenges by receiving a higher education.

Using the money, they'll conduct a 5-year study to design a program that will encompass education and employment. Catholic Social Services leaders hope that Program UP will be able to be applied to communities across the country.

According to Program UP Director Natalie Lecy, becoming skilled enough to rise above poverty is paramount.

“Single-parent families are four more times likely to be living in poverty,” said Lecy. “And so, if they're not able to get a degree where they can make some money, it's a drain for them as well as our community and our nation.”

Program UP also helps with transportation, child care and other services. Catholic Social Services worked with nearly 28 local agencies to develop the program.

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