Nonprofit Helps Single Parents

By Jamilex Gotay 

Jaemellah Kemp faced a heart-wrenching decision: buy school supplies for her kindergartner or food. It’s a position no parent ever wants to find themselves in. So in 2012, Kemp took her situation and made something positive from it. She founded a nonprofit organization to help other single parents in similar circumstances.

Her nonprofit is called It Takes Two and it just celebrated 10 years of helping local single parents Aug. 6. The organization is a youth development program aimed at helping students in single-parent households find success. 

Since it began in February 2012, It Takes Two has helped children in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, as well as in the greater Washington, D.C., area. As of 2014, the organization has provided 250 students with school supplies through its Supply Drive 365 as part of the Anne Arundel County Public School’s Back to School Program and has awarded 36 scholarships totaling over $10,000.

Before she founded It Takes Two, Kemp was working full-time and earning her master’s degree in nonprofit and association management from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Kemp was able to receive help from family and friends but she knew that not all single parents were as fortunate. 

Her group’s motto is “Everybody needs a hand up, not a hand out.” It Takes Two eases the financial burden of single parents by offering a Tools for Success Scholarship to aid in the purchase of school supplies, laptops, internet access, and tutoring. The award ranges from $200 to $500 and is available for students in fourth grade through college.

It Takes Two also offers two educational programs for students. The Positioned for Greatness Youth Program is a co-ed life skills program for students in fifth through 12th grade and focuses on six aspects: anti-bullying, financial literacy, college and career readiness, youth entrepreneurship, community service, and leadership. The program offers students a first step in generating a plan for life after high school, whether it is higher education or the workforce. It also includes summer service hours.

The Reading Challenge promotes reading, creative writing skills, critical thinking, and artistic expression in school-aged children. In this program, students are provided with free books in after-school programs aided by various state organizations. At the completion of each book, students can add it to their home library, thus encouraging reading with their siblings and friends.

Despite the financial challenges that come with being a single parent, Kemp says the youth of today are missing “opportunities and options [for the future]–even if it’s just a conversation.” Through her organization, she encourages families to just “simply ask and someone will support you or make that connection to change the trajectory of your life.”

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