HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Care Center in Holyoke has received a $1 million gift, which will be used to continue to support young women and mothers.

This donation was made by the Ceres foundation to contribute to the Care Center’s public endowment campaign for Bard Microcollege Holyoke. This Microcollege makes it possible for young mothers and low-income women to receive a college education.

Nicholle Downey, a student at Bard Microcollege Holyoke said, “Education for me, it’s opened so many doors.”

The Care Center in Holyoke and Bard College teamed up back in 2016 to create the Bard Microcollege. Anne Teschner, the Executive Director of The Care Center said, “It’s a college set up specifically to meet the needs of young parents and other low-income women.”

Students enrolled here work to obtain an associate’s degree, tuition-free, with support like daycare and transportation provided along the way. “Truly, this is the way to break the cycle of poverty. and it’s happening. we’re seeing students go on to bachelor’s degree programs and get jobs,” said Teschner.

A majority of the funding for the micro college comes from federal pell grants, along with around $200,000 the center has to raise itself annually. If they can hit the $4 million mark with this endowment campaign, the micro college would be covered in perpetuity.

“Hampden county struggles with issues of poverty and employment issues and the more educated the population is, the better the whole community will be,” said Teschner.

Right now, the Cares Center has made it about halfway to that $4 million goal. Any interested individual can contribute, all donations are tax-deductible.