Kindness Makes a Difference

Australia Ford

College can be challenging, but for a single mom with three kids who is determined to get her bachelor’s degree, a full-time class schedule can be particularly difficult.

In May, Australia Ford will graduate from Minneapolis College with an associate of arts in communication studies focused on creative writing, and through Pathways will transfer to Metro State University, where she is enrolled in the journalism program.

When she started college, Ford held a job and received financial aid, but for the past two semesters, she has paid her tuition through scholarships.

“I ended up having to take a step back from working to focus on my kids and my family dynamic,” she said.

Two of her three children, a two-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, live with her in an apartment near campus as part of the Jeremiah Program for single mothers. Her 11-year-old son had been living in Chaska with his dad and going to school there while the family’s custody case was in process in family court.

Then she got a phone call: her ex was to enter chemical dependency treatment and her elder son would come to live with her. There was no time to plan. She simply had to make it work, and she wasn’t sure how.

“I was totally grateful, eager and excited for my son to be back home, but I didn’t know where I was going to pull from financially to support us,” she said.

Ford began driving her son from Minneapolis to Chaska every day so he could stay in the same school—a routine that added at least two hours of driving to an already packed daily schedule. Gas for the car was an unplanned expense, as was extra food, bedding, and personal care products for a growing pre-teen boy.

Instead of dropping out of school, Ford turned to Student Resource Center.

“I met with [outreach coordinator] Elma [Osmanovic] about what my family was experiencing, and she said I should apply for a Random Act of Kindness grant. I didn’t know that was available to me. They also offered options for food assistance and childcare,” she said.

Australia received her grant by check within days of filling out a short, simple application. The grant covered the unplanned expenses of transportation, food, and personal items for her son’s integration into the family home, enabling continuity and stability for the family.

Ford described the feeling of receiving the Random Act of Kindness Grant: “It relieved stress for me because instead of trying to figure out where I was going to be able to pull from financially to support our needs, I was able to stay focused and dedicated to my schoolwork. Minneapolis College has definitely blessed my family,” she said.

The Minneapolis College Foundation is dedicated to limiting the financial burden students face while pursuing an education through scholarships and Random Act of Kindness grants providing emergency assistance to students who are experiencing a financial crisis. The grants may cover costs like books, school supplies, transportation, childcare—any expense that may interrupt a student’s education.

Scholarships and grants are made possible by gifts from students, faculty, alumni, and friends. Random Acts of Kindness week, February 11–17, is the perfect time to consider a gift to the Minneapolis College Foundation. For more information, or to donate or pledge, visit minneapolis.edu/giveback.

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