Expectant mothers dreaming of higher education may soon receive targeted financial assistance toward their goals, thanks to Unplanned movie star Ashley Bratcher’s partnership with Heartbeat International.
As announced last summer, Bratcher decided to create the Unplanned Movie Scholarship when women approached her with stories of heartbreaking choices between continuing their pregnancies and pursuing their education.
“I wanted to be a part of empowering mothers to chase their dreams and to provide a means for those who chose life to continue their educations,” Bratcher said at the time.
Students for Life reports that over 2 million college-aged women (ages 18-24) become pregnant each year. Further, less than 1 in 10 students with children complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of college entry.
According to Andrea Trudden, Director of Communications and Marketing for Heartbeat International, “Ashley got inspired to find a way to help jump over that hurdle and take away that issue for women. So she worked with the producers of Unplanned to find a way to leave her own legacy from the movie.”
Ultimately, Trudden said, “She came to us and proposed the idea of the movie scholarship.”
Two supportive arms for parenting students
By partnering with Heartbeat International, Bratcher’s scholarship will ensure women have the two kinds of support they need to succeed while parenting in school.
Tweet This: By partnering w/Heartbeat International, Bratcher’s scholarship will ensure women have the support they need while parenting in school
The first, of course, is robust financial aid.
“The goal is to raise $50,000, and that will unlock 2 scholarships for young women,” Trudden said. “It may go to their schooling; it may cover child care so that the mother can go to school.”
The second is essential ongoing personal support provided by a local pregnancy help organization. In fact, those organizations will be the point of contact between women in need and the scholarship.
“We're partnering with the pregnancy centers so that we can maintain the accountability aspect as the mom goes through school—which could be vocational training or a four-year college degree or her GED,” said Trudden.
Once the initial scholarship funding is in place, she added, “Word will go out to our pregnancy help organizations to identify someone in whom they see strong effort and potential and commitment, and then work with her to fill out an application. That [application] will come to Heartbeat International for review. Once we have reviewed those, we will honor as many as we are able to give out.”
“We'd love to continuously give out many [scholarships] each year, but we need to build that momentum,” Trudden said, adding that the $20,000 already raised “is simply based on the kindness of supporters who want to give to a cause they feel is worthwhile and they want to help women.”
Bratcher is actively promoting the scholarship through her own appearances and online channels.
In addition, Students for Life chapters across the nation have hosted screenings of Unplanned, offering a link afterward to the scholarship website, UnplannedMovieScholarship.com for audience members who are moved to help women making tough pregnancy-versus-education decisions.
Heartbeat International also encourages pregnancy help organizations to promote the scholarship fund through their channels as a way to further assist young women with unexpected pregnancies.
“We understand that women can feel overwhelmed when facing any unplanned pregnancy,” Trudden said. “Then they face the difficult thoughts going through their minds—thoughts of disappointing parents, or maybe they think they're too young or that they may have to put their plans on hold. We know the stories.”
“We want to take away those hurdles to help women understand they can have both school and children,” she added. “It's not impossible. We know women are so capable, but in moments of panic they sometimes doubt themselves. We’re basically telling a woman she can, when she may not think she can.”