Here at The Women’s Foundation, we have hit the ground running and are looking forward to an exciting 2014. With much of a brand new year ahead, I want to share a few of my top priorities:
We have an opportunity to build the momentum and national messaging generated by The Shriver Report, which emphasizes why we must make investing in low-income women and girls a priority. You -- your presence, voice and support -- are critical to our efforts to transform the lives of women and girls, and the Washington region. I hope that you’ll stand with us in 2014.
Sincerely, Nicky Goren
When Elijah was a baby, he and his mother Tia lived with his grandmother. Tia was grateful to have a place to stay, but knew it was only a temporary solution. Elijah was growing fast and there wasn’t room for an active child to play and explore. With rents in the District growing as quickly as her son, and most of her income going to child care, Tia was scrambling to provide a safe and secure future. And then she made a big, bold decision: she was going to buy a home. It took her several years – but she did it. And you helped make it possible.
Your previous gifts to Washington Area Women’s Foundation were invested in programs like the Homebuyers Club, which helps low-income families like Tia’s buy homes through peer support, professional guidance and financial education. Your support transforms families and our entire community.
Tia’s story might sound familiar – she shared her experience at the 2006 Leadership Luncheon. That day, she told the audience how impossible becoming a homeowner seemed – at first.
"I used to think that because I was a single mom it would be too hard for me to buy a house,” she said. “I thought that I didn’t earn enough money and that my childcare expenses would stop me.”
In making the bold decision to move from being a renter to a homeowner, Tia took the first step on the path to financial stability for her and her son. I’m revisiting Tia’s story, because I want you to know that your donations are long-term investments in women and in the Washington region. I’m happy to tell you that seven years after she first shared her story, Tia and Elijah remain in their home, and that buying her home changed the course of her life and that of her son’s.
Elijah is in the fourth grade now. He and Tia’s favorite thing to do is hang out in their living room, playing games and watching movies. They have the stability and security that comes with being in the same house and neighborhood for years, and are important members of their community. And Tia is working to help more families follow in their footsteps. She now volunteers at the Homebuyers Club. She provides childcare for other mothers just starting on the path she took nearly a decade ago – but maybe more importantly, she helps them believe it’s a path they dare to walk down.
“There’s nothing greater than feeling like you can provide for your kids,” she says. “Being a homeowner is a struggle sometimes. But I have the security of knowing I still have a roof over my head. I always have shelter. I always have the security of home.”
Over the past 15 years, supporters like you have made it possible for low-income women and girls to find security through new and better jobs, access to affordable, high-quality early education, and increasing assets. With these targeted investments, we can work together to end poverty in our community. But it’s going to take big, bold action. When change seemed impossible, Tia had the courage to make a bold move.
Nicky Goren President
Earlier this summer, Washington Area Women’s Foundation released a case study that details effective approaches for helping low-income women overcome persistent barriers in workforce development programs and employment in nontraditional sectors: “Lessons Learned & Recommendations for the Field: A Case Study of Nontraditional Job Training Programs for Women.” The study was funded by the Public Welfare Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The findings of the case study are based on grants The Women’s Foundation awarded over a six year period to DC-area nonprofits for nontraditional job training programs. The Grantee Partners highlighted in the case study are: CASA de Maryland, Goodwill of Greater Washington, Urban Alliance, Year Up National Capital Region and YWCA of the National Capital Area.
According to the US Department of Labor, nontraditional jobs for women are defined as occupations in which women comprise less than 25 percent of all workers. Examples of these jobs include construction and building trades, engineering, and transportation, and encompass technical, scientific, and labor-intensive work. The case study points out that nontraditional jobs typically pay more than those traditionally classified as “female jobs” – often 20 to 30 percent more – and are more likely to offer career pathways and benefits.
“We explored nontraditional jobs specifically because our research and experience have shown that occupations with higher wages, progressive career pathways and benefits like health care go a long way in helping women, particularly single women who are head of household, achieve and maintain economic security,” said Nicky Goren, president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation. “This is not only about finding jobs for women. It’s about preparing them to excel in careers with family-sustaining wages that will enable them to put themselves and their families on paths to prosperity.”
The case study highlights the categorical and systemic barriers that low-income women often face, including level of educational attainment, work supports, transportation costs, access to affordable child care and discrimination. These barriers are present in many occupations but are often more intense in nontraditional jobs.
The report also makes recommendations that include: more comprehensive case management and support services; greater focus on retention and career advancement services; addressing basic skills and post-secondary education needs; and building partnerships with community colleges and employers.
“Our hope is that policy makers, nonprofits, employers and funders use the case study as they create innovative strategies that will break down barriers and open up good jobs to women,” said Goren. “One in five women in DC lives in poverty and many are supporting children. By opening up these opportunities to them, we can help ensure that women and their families thrive and we can move closer to ending poverty in our community.”
A copy of the case study is available on The Women’s Foundation’s website.
Workforce development and jobs with benefits, career pathways, and family-sustaining wages is just one of the three areas of the Stepping Stones Initiative. With your continued support, we will mobilize our community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they need to thrive.
What’s your favorite part of graduation season? Is it the celebration of years of hard work coming to fruition? Is it the hopefulness of the future? The excitement of planning for tomorrow? For many nontraditional students in the greater Washington metro region, it’s about all that and so much more.
Adult learners are completing basic education, job training, and higher education programs in growing numbers, and are often doing so while caring for children, working long hours, and struggling to make ends meet, all in the hopes of a more economically secure and fulfilling life for themselves and their families.
They’re graduating from programs like So Others Might Eat’s Center for Employment Training. A record 60 students celebrated completing the program last month. There are also the students who graduated from Montgomery College’s apartment maintenance technician program, a class that included women for the first time, thanks to funding from the Foundation. And at the end of July, Year Up will hold a ceremony for students who have completed the training part of their program and are off to information technology internships across the region. All of these programs receive support from The Women’s Foundation.
Congratulations to the graduates of these and other programs across the region! Their determination, hard work and sacrifice are truly awe inspiring and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for them and their families.
Sincerely, Nicky Goren President
Thank you for your continued support and interest in Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Stepping Stones Initiative. Together, we are working to build the economic security of low-income, women-headed families by focusing resources on three areas: access to high-quality early care and education; jobs with benefits, career pathways, and family-sustaining wages; and financial education and asset building.
In December 2012, The Women’s Foundation awarded grants totaling $805,000 to 23 nonprofits whose work is improving the economic security of low-income women in the Washington metropolitan area. The grants will touch the lives of 5,000 women and children who are living in poverty.
“By investing in effective nonprofits working in these areas, we’re helping our region’s most vulnerable families access the resources they need to thrive,” said Nicky Goren, president of The Women’s Foundation. “We have the potential to end poverty in the DC metro area by transforming the role economically disadvantaged women and their families play in our economic future.”
Ten of the nonprofits received funding through the Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative (ECEFC), a partnership between national and local private foundations, corporate funders and family foundations to increase access to quality early care and education in the DC metro area. The Grantee Partners are:
The remaining nonprofits were funded for their work in financial education, workforce development and jobs. They were chosen because of their focus on giving women and their families the tools they need to increase their assets and obtain jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits. Those Grantee Partners are:
In the coming months we hope to expand our grantmaking strategy to address the critical needs of girls and young women as we continue to invest in programs breaking the cycle of poverty.
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