The Women’s Initiative Endowment Fund is celebrating reaching the million dollar milestone! Over 300 caring and diverse members have grown the fund from an initial fund balance of $100,000 all the way to $1million over the past 19 years.
“It’s been incredible to watch the generosity and passion of local women help us grow our impact in the community,” said Marnie Rossow, chair of the Women’s Initiative Steering Committee.
The fund started back in 2002 after seeing success with a giving circle of local women passionate about giving back. Taking the giving to the next level, a group of special women gathered in JoAnn Ploeger’s living room to hatch a plan for what would eventually turn into an endowed fund.
The Women’s Initiative is currently focused on eliminating barriers that impact a child’s educational growth through major grants for preschool tuition assistance. Beginning in 2017, in partnership with St. Clair County RESA’s Great Start Collaborative, the Women’s Initiative wanted to stop low and middle-income children from falling through the cracks of missing a quality preschool education. These children deserved the developmental, academic and financial benefits they get from preschool.
On average, 25-30 kids per year have been impacted by the tuition assistance. Beyond the number of kids, researchers have quantified the economic impact of a quality preschool education for 3- and 4-year-olds. On average, it adds up to about $25,000 per child by age 20. Children who attended preschool are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to be held back in school, less likely to need remedial support, less likely to run afoul of the law and less likely to receive government assistance.
“The life changing impact these grants could have for 3- and 4- year-olds makes every penny matter even more. You can’t always quantify what a difference a year in preschool will make in their lives,” said Riley Alley, Director for St. Clair County RESA’s Great Start Collaborative.
Nearly $400,000 in total has been granted back into the community since the Women’s Initiative fund began making an impact. Grants have been given for everything from the community backpack program, to family read nights, funding for local school programs, and so much more. Today’s signature grants being the support of the preschool tuition assistance program.
Grants from the Women’s Initiative are decided upon by a steering committee made up of Women’s Initiative members passionate about giving back and stewarding the hard earned money of donors to the fund. Each year the fund also hosts a 100+ Women Who Care event to spend an evening socializing with like-minded women, celebrating the good work of local nonprofits and giving attendees the opportunity to help grant $10,000. It’s an event that had grown to nearly 300 women and the group will be excited to gather again when safe to do so.
“I remember Phyllis Ledyard challenging us a couple years ago at a social event to reach the million dollar mark for the fund. We’re so proud that we’ve achieved that goal and will continue to grow the impact of the Women’s Initiative for generations to come,” said Randa Jundi-Samman, Women’s Initiative member and Community Foundation Board Chair.
The Women’s Initiative is a nod to the power of the purse and aims to educate about local philanthropic opportunities, empower women through grant making and to engage women through social philanthropic events. New members are always welcome to join by making a donation to the fund. Learn more and make an impact here.