Single mother paying it forward with nonprofit foundation
What's My Why?
“I became a young mom, I had my son at 17. … I started working in sales, and I was doing really well. At 19, I was making $50,000 a year and I’m like, I’m great, I made it. And I realized that there was only so far I was going to go without having a college degree because I wanted to move up into more of a management position. ...
“I knew that I wanted to help young and single moms, but I did not have a plan for what that looked like. Being at UBalt has allowed me to come up with a strategic plan, take courses and really figure out what that looks like in reality.”
Loren Nelson was clear from the first meeting with her college adviser—she wanted to help other single mothers, even if she didn’t yet know how.
In the years before she started her undergraduate studies at The University of Baltimore, Nelson, B.A. '21, spent countless hours trying to find the different resources she needed to support her son while earning the degree she wanted.
“My goal is really based on my lived experience,” Nelson said. “I’ve benefited a lot, but I’ve also found that it’s hard finding resources. You don’t know what you don’t know, and having multiple things going on at one time—trying to make sure that I can go to work, and my kid can go to school, and extracurricular activities and a social life—it’s a lot.”
Her passion and her experiences collided during an assignment in her grant writing class at UBalt. She had to support an existing nonprofit or develop her own, and so she chose the latter.
“From that class, I was able to leave with actual material that I’ve developed into my own nonprofit, The Glow Forward Foundation, which serves young and single moms in the Baltimore area,” Nelson said. “My goal is to really support those young and single moms, and I’ve been able to do that with the support of UBalt.”
Nelson was able to build her foundation and earn a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Administration. She decided to stay at UBalt to pursue a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship.
Earlier this year, at the encouragement of her adviser, Dawnsha Mushonga, Nelson applied for the University System of Maryland Langenberg Legacy Program's second cohort. She is one of 10 fellows selected from a pool of applicants representing USM’s 12 institutions. The program encourages student fellows to implement “micro-level civic engagement projects that speak to macro-level issues.”
Nelson is taking the opportunity to further her mission to support single mothers. She’s hosting a free community event that includes panel discussions, career planning, support services and networking.
“I want young and single moms to know that their dreams are possible,” Nelson said. “They, your life may look a certain way, but it doesn’t mean that it has to continue on that path.”
She’s hosting the event where her mission to serve started—on UBalt’s campus in midtown Baltimore.
Nelson is proud of the part the University has played in her journey.
“I feel very fortunate to be part of the UBalt community where people know me, I know people, I’ve had opportunities to be involved and and really get to tell my story,” she said.
“I just feel that it’s really helped me to solidify who I am and has given me room to grow.”