Bridges Out of Poverty: Single moms focus of new Getting Ahead class

Vicky O. Misa
Neighboring 101 Inc. CEO Steve Palmer, Getting Ahead grad and Blueprints author Tiffany Walker and Getting Ahead grad Rosanna Wassana, with her daughter, stop for a photo after discussing a brand new Getting Ahead class offering that will focus on single mothers.

The clock is ticking as the deadline nears to register for a resource-building program geared toward single mothers. On Jan. 10, the application process will wrap up for the first Getting Ahead class dedicated to working with a specific group of individuals facing similar hurdles.

The goal is finding at least 15 single moms to take part in the program that aims to help them achieve stability and self-sufficiency.

Though the Getting Ahead program is not new to the area, choosing to focus on a specific demographic for a class is something brand new.

Coordinator Tiffany Walker, a Getting Ahead grad and Blueprints author, said a big difference this time around is, as the class begins, the group of ladies with common hurdles can share what their needs are, what barriers they face and can seek ways to overcome them.

“We can do it together and they will see they are not alone,” Walker said. “And they will know the community is there for them, too.”

As the class facilitators (previous Getting Ahead graduates) navigate through the course with the students — and receive input — they can seek out the needed resources, Walker said.

“They create the problem list together,” she said. “Then we all work out ways to overcome those issues.”

She said the class is offering an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for the children of all the classmates.

Walker said she is excited to see what the group does.

This knowledge-swap is a fundamental key to the Bridges Out of Poverty program.

Neighboring 101 CEO Steve Palmer said getting all the experts at the table is how issues are best addressed and resolved.

In general, often not all the stakeholders are included as part of the big discussions; there are only representatives from a certain group interest or culture trying to solve a problem, he said. When a group tries to tackle an issue like poverty, the vast amount of insight that belongs solely to the impoverished is rarely sought out.

“They are the ones who know best what their barriers are,” he said. “They face them every day.”


The 16- to 20-week program is set to begin Feb. 3 on Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 301 S. Beard in Shawnee.

The single moms class will not be the only Getting Ahead program over the next several months; the original class program will have a course starting soon, as well.

Palmer said hopes are that both classes will end about the same time and can graduate together in one ceremony.

For more information or to apply, email or

How Getting Ahead works

The class is a 10-module course designed to aid interested participants with resource-building and overcoming barriers.

Candidates must apply and interview to be accepted into the class.

The class meets for 16 to 20 weeks — once per week for three hours. Dinner, transportation and child care are offered, as well as a small stipend for the commitment.

During the program, students and teachers share the responsibility of investigating life issues together and then applying what has been learned.

The group will build and develop resources in several key areas: Spiritual, financial, mental, physical, emotional, support systems, relationships/role models, language, knowledge of the hidden, integrity/trust and motivation/persistence.

The Neighboring 101 office is at 126 S. Center in Shawnee; for more information, call (405) 481-6313.