Sep 14, 2011

The Foundation in the Community

Earlier this summer the Washington Area Women's Foundation board approved $350,000 in new grants for eight local nonprofits working to build the economic security and financial independence of low-income, women-headed families.  Three of the organizations had never been funded by The Women's Foundation before. This latest round of funding brings The Women’sFoundation’s grantmaking total to $779,000 for the 2011 fiscal year.  All eight nonprofits received funding from The Women’s Foundation’s Stepping Stones Initiative. The objective of Stepping Stones is to build the economic security and financial independence of low‐income, women‐headed families. 

The AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation is one of Washington Area Women's Foundation's newest Grantee Partners and just received a $50,000 grant for their Every Child Ready project.  The new grant from The Women's Foundation came from the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative.

AppleTree is using a pioneering model to close the achievement gap before children enter kindergarten.  The organization operates four charter preschools that serve 320 children in D.C.'s Southwest, Columbia Heights and East Capitol Hill neighborhoods.  The schools are open to all three and four-year-olds in the District.

Every Child Ready is creating a scalable model of high-quality preschool that is set to be replicated nationwide.  It is the only DC-based project serving children that was selected for a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant last year.  According to AppleTree: "Every Child Ready has shown extraordinarily strong results in providing those most at risk of educational failure with the language, literacy, math, and social-emotional skills they will need to succeed in school and life."

The Foundation in the Community

"I have had no health care since 2007.  I don't know what it is to go to the doctor."

"[My kids] have no day care so I can't work."

"The lawmakers need to hear from us... the ones who struggle every day."

"No one can do it alone.  It's important to work together."

After the release of the report 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area, The Women's Foundation embarked on a series of listening sessions across the community to share data from the report and hear what Grantee Partners and their clients were doing to resolve issues faced by women and girls in our region.

We heard from middle school girls in Montgomery County who were concerned about their families' economic security.  In Ward 8, single women raising children talked about wanting to advocate for themselves.  We talked about the challenges faced by lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.  And we found out what one Northern Virginia nonprofit is doing to improve the economic stability of domestic violence survivors.

Click here for an overview of the latest community presentation, held in conjunction with the Prince George's County Executive and Prince George's Community College.

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May 26, 2011

What does economic security mean to you?

What does economic security mean to you?  To Linda* it meant gaining her independence so that she could provide for her three children, rather than staying in an abusive marriage in which she wasn’t allowed to work. 

After leaving her husband, Linda slept on a friend’s couch and had to take her children with her on job interviews.  Following weeks of frustration and rejection, just as she was about to give up hope and return to her husband, she discovered Doorways for Women and Families, a Northern Virginia organization that offers shelter and a range of services for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Doorways - a Washington Area Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner – gave Linda financial and job skills training and helped place her children in daycare.  When she completed her training course, she beat out 300 other applicants for a position with a local city government.  She now lives on her own with her children and credits Doorways for helping her.  “I got my life back and my children got a life they otherwise would not have,“ she said.

Sadly, Linda’s story is not unique.  More than 177,000 women and girls in the DC metro region live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet.  Your investment in Washington Area Women’s Foundation helps ensure that women like Linda have opportunities to support themselves and their children.

And your investment is showing phenomenal returns.  During the past year, our signature program, Stepping Stones, strategically invested $270,000 in grants to organizations such as Doorways that provide financial education and job training to low-income women.  That investment yielded a nearly $6 million return through income and asset gains made by women participating in these programs.  That is a 2196% return on investment.   

Thank you for investing in the women and girls of our region. Together we can make a difference. 

 * name changed to protect identity 

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