Ball State University students are helping break the cycle of generational poverty in single-parent households.

They are developing a nonprofit called Beneficence Family Scholars.

The purpose of the new nonprofit is to help single parents earn a four-year college degree with minimal obstacles. A team of 16 students is working on the project at the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, led by Jason Powell, associate professor of honors humanities.

“The need in Muncie is incredible,” Powell said. “The city’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the national average. There are already a large number of wonderful nonprofits in Delaware County, but what makes us distinctive is we are trying to target every aspect of generational poverty like food insecurity, housing, child care, health care, and education.”

Beneficence Family Scholars is modeled after and affiliated with Family Scholar House in Louisville, Kentucky, the only nonprofit of its kind that uses the same comprehensive approach to fighting poverty.

Sophomore Bobbie Burton, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychological science, has worked as a developer, researcher, and promotions coordinator for the nonprofit.

“I chose to participate in this project because I understand some of the challenges these families face, and I wanted to be a part of the initiative that creates a positive change in their lives,” said Burton, a graduate of Columbus North High School.

The first families to join the program will start their studies at Ball State or Ivy Tech Community College in the Fall 2020 semester.

Powell said his students are serving their neighbors and living the Beneficence Pledge, which includes social responsibility and respect for all people.

“Hopefully, when the students put this on their resumes,” Powell said, “it will say they helped start an integral nonprofit that allows Muncie to retain people and build the community through education and allowing people to give more to their community in the long term.”