Washington Area Women's Foundation

Washington Area Women's Foundation is a results-oriented, creative catalyst for social change. We believe in the promise and value of every women and girl in the Washington area. We know that we we achieve our full potential, our entire region benefits. We envision the Washington metro area as a model community where every women and girl is on the path to prosperity. That is why we are using our deep insight into the needs of women and girls to collect, direct, and leverage resources to three core areas: financial education and wealth creation, jobs with benefits, career pathways and family sustaining wages; and high-quality early care and education. By supporting the most effective organiza...
Nov 18, 2014

Here. Now. For Her.

President Jennifer with her mom and daughters
President Jennifer with her mom and daughters

Each year around the holidays I am reminded of all the things for which I am grateful. Among them are the experiences and people that helped shape me. If you have been fortunate enough to achieve any measure of success in life, you have had these as well – the people and places along the journey that nurtured and inspired you.

I am here today because of my mother, Dianna Lockwood. My mom grew up poor in a small town in New Hampshire, on a working farm, the youngest of three sisters. She never had the opportunity to go to college and was determined that my brother and I would. She and my dad created a wonderful life, until it all came crashing down during the recession of the 1980s when both of my parents lost their jobs. My father never quite recovered from that setback and it was my mother who got up each day, worked several jobs, and made sure that my brother and I had what we needed. Her example of strength and resiliency taught me.

I do what I do because of her. I’ve devoted my career to working on behalf of low-income women and their families because I want her to know that the investment she made in me, all of her sacrifices, were not in vain.  And now that I’m a mother, I have a new, more profound understanding of what she did, and I know that as I strive to make a better life for my own daughters, I am paying forward what my mother has given me.

There are more than 200,000 women and girls living in poverty across the Washington metropolitan region, who like my mother and I have a story of hope to step beyond their own experiences and limitations. Sadly, that statistic hasn’t changed significantly in recent years, particularly in light of the recession and what has now become a slow and prolonged recovery for those most in need. As frustrating as these numbers are, and as impatient as we all are for change, we have to remember that most women in our community didn’t suddenly fall into poverty.  And just as it didn’t happen overnight, it won’t be resolved overnight.

And that’s why, now, more than ever, we are grateful for your support.

The challenges our region faces to address poverty are complex. This is the time to stand firm in our commitment, craft a bold vision, and re-double our efforts so that future generations of girls can one day achieve their dreams. 

We must do all that we can to move women and girls from a place of economic vulnerability to security. As I look ahead to our work in the coming year, I need your support to realize our goals.

Our investments in girls will support high school completion, develop self-esteem, encourage positive choices, and empower them as social change agents. Our goals for investing in women are to obtain jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits, support increased financial capability, and provide the foundational skills that allow them to break the cycle of poverty for their children.

Your support makes it possible for us to:

  • Provide financial education, job training, and access to early care and education resources to thousands of low-income women in the region.
  • Invest more resources into ground-breaking two-generation work with girls and their female caregivers to break the cycle of poverty.
  • Leverage the combination of our investments and our influence to have the greatest impact with our powerful voice on behalf of women and girls.

These goals are ambitious. But, I believe that—together—we can achieve them. We are poised and ready to lead a movement that will shape the future of local families, our communities, and this world. Let’s harness our collective strength to, in turn, strengthen others.

There are thousands of women and girls with hopes and dreams that deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential who need us. Your support matters and makes a difference in their lives.

Stand with me. Here. Now. For Her.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat

President and CEO

Aug 26, 2014

Back to School: Your supports fuels new beginnings

PreAnn on high school graduation day
PreAnn on high school graduation day

Sometimes your gifts to Washington Area Women’s Foundation help a woman discover and travel paths she’s never dreamed of. Step by step she learns new skills, gains confidence, and dares to paint herself into a new vision of the future.

But in the case of PreAnn Walker, your gifts are helping a young woman navigate a path she’s always dreamed of.

By third grade, PreAnn had a crystal clear idea of her future. She was going to Spelman College and she was going to become a doctor.  It has been a dream of hers for so long, that at the ripe old age of 20, she doesn’t even know how the seed was planted.

“I’ve just always known I was going there,” she says with a conviction that’s hard to argue with. After all, against ridiculously high odds, that’s exactly where she is. Enrolled at Spelman, taking Spanish courses this summer, making room for more classes in her major—Psychology—in her final two years.

And, of course, she’s working. Because that’s what she’s always done since she was 15.  KFC, McDonald’s, Safeway, Chick-Fil-A.  Not for pocket money like other girls her age, but for the stuff that keeps body and soul together—underwear, shoes, school supplies, meals. Necessities, not niceties.

Your support has helped hardworking, vulnerable young women like PreAnn realize their dreams.

In high school, PreAnn juggled two jobs while attending school full time, despite a precarious living situation. At age 11 she was removed from the custody of her mother who was suffering from schizophrenia, and became the ward of a twenty-something cousin. By high school, PreAnn was largely taking care of herself. On any given night, she cadged a bed/couch/space on the floor in one of several homes—staying in one place only long enough to not wear out her welcome, then moving on to the next, eventually circling back and starting the cycle again.  

“I carried a big purse,” she says with a laugh, “because I needed to keep a change of clothes in there.  I was never sure where I was going to sleep, so I was always prepared. When I got ready to move to Atlanta, I had to go to five or six different places to pick up my stuff because I had a little here and a little there.”

Always, she kept her eyes on the college prize—shrugging away sacrifices, and relentlessly pursuing every opportunity that got her closer to her goal. That’s where you came in!In her senior year, PreAnn seized the opportunity to participate in two programs that were the final stepping stones on her path to Spelman—Urban Alliance’s internship program and College Success Foundation’s DC Achievers Scholarship Program.  Thanks to generous donors like you, The Women’s Foundation funds both of these organizations whose programs provide tools and resources that change young people’s lives.

Your continued support is the fuel that keeps dreams alive for determined young women!

We got to know PreAnn, and the fierce determination that drives her, in the fall of 2011 when she became our Urban Alliance intern. One of the benefits of being an intern at The Women’s Foundation is you instantly acquire an entire cadre of mentors and cheerleaders. The day PreAnn received her acceptance from Spelman, the entire office celebrated with her, with high-fives, hugs, and not a dry eye in the office. A generous and well-deserved DC Achievers Scholarship cleared the final obstacle for PreAnn to finish the journey she had set for herself almost a dozen years before. We’re not sure she has stopped smiling since!

As many students prepare to head back to school, we know there are many other young women like PreAnn out there –ready to set forth on the path of their dreams with pure determination. At The Women’s Foundation, our goal is that no young woman will be left behind just because she was born in the wrong ZIP code or to parents with insufficient resources. Together, we can provide the tools that give each one a fighting chance.

 

With gratitude,

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat

President

PreAnn heading to class at Spellman
PreAnn heading to class at Spellman
May 27, 2014

Mother's Day and The Women's Foundation

Of all the jobs I’ve held over my career, none have been harder than being a mom. Nothing could have prepared me for the rollercoaster that I ride on a daily basis with my two girls. And during those moments when I’m feeling particularly challenged, I ask my mom for advice. She always demurs, saying, “You’re raising your children in a very different time.” And while she’s right in many ways—technology alone has transformed how parents and children interact—in other ways, very little has changed over time. For many of the 200,000 women and girls living in poverty in our region, the challenges and barriers they face have made poverty multi-generational.

That’s one of the reasons why The Women’s Foundation is investing in a promising and innovative two-generation strategy working with middle school girls and their female caregivers. We are excited to be adding our voice and expertise to the Aspen Institute Ascend Network on two-generation work, and we look forward to sharing our learning with you in the months ahead.

With over 72 percent of mothers with young children participating in our region’s workforce,families are increasingly relying on the wages of women in order to achieve economic security. It’s never been more important that workplace policies reflect the realities of women’s lives. I’m thrilled that the Foundation has been recognized as a Best Place to Work by the Washington Business Journal.  For us, modeling positive policies and ‘walking the walk’ is equally as important as ‘talking the talk’; investing in the talent and strength of our staff has always strengthened us as an organization.

Earlier this month in celebration of Mother’s Day, if you follow us on Facebook, you had an opportunity to meet the women behind the women—the wonderful moms of our staff! We’ve all had a guiding force in our lives, whether it was a mom, friend, neighbor, grandmother, aunt or colleague. She’s the person who picked you up when you were down, told you the truth when no one else would or simply listened when you needed an ear. She ultimately stood with you so you could stand on your own. We hope that you also take a moment to recognize and honor that special woman in your life.

 

With much gratitude,
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat

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