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Thank you!
Full Speed Ahead

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With YOUR help we did it

My first year as CEO went by quickly. Though a transition can often mean an organization slows down for a period, thanks to donors like you, your Women's Fund was able to go full speed ahead. We are starting FY16 in one of our strongest positions ever and expect to build on that success with a new strategic plan, adding office space in Franklin County, and an updated Leadership for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI) program. Thank you for being part of our winning team.

  • 47 percent increase in fundraising over FY14
  • Raised almost a half million dollars, resulting in an operating surplus
  • 100 percent Board of Director giving
  • More than doubled the number of new donors

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High-Impact Grantmaking

Your Women's Fund is the leading philanthropic organization serving the needs of local women and girls. As authorities in the field, we design grant making programs utilizing the latest research, regional data and analysis, our network of renowned experts, and our unparalleled knowledge of home-grown efforts for gender equity and empowerment. You can feel good knowing that your investment is not only in good hands, but is also doubling in size and impact by compounding it with funds from like-minded donors who have prioritized women and girls in their giving.

In addition to completing the first year of our inaugural multi-year grant cycle, this year we also proudly launched 3 new partnerships. They are:

  • Berkshire County's Flying Cloud Institute and ROPE/Women of Color Giving Circle for their Berkshire Collaborative for GIRLS in STEM project;
  • Hampden County's Neighbor to Neighbor and Voices from Inside for their Voice Activated project; and
  • Hampshire County's MotherWoman, UMass-Amherst, and Hampshire College for their Firm Foundation: Policy Change for Mothers project.
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We are also testing a new strategy of "stacking" grant cycles for maximum impact. Franklin County's Women's GARDEN Project, is a collaboration among Greenfield Community College, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, and Seeds of Solidarity. They are recipients of the Women's Fund 2014-2016 grant award and were also awarded a second grant for the 2015-2017 grant cycle for a total $120,000 investment over four years.

The goal of the project is to provide at-risk women in transition with skills in sustainable food production and creating farm and food cooperatives. This includes taking courses at Greenfield Community College, establishing food gardens in three communities, and offering a 12-week institute, the Montague Institute for New Directions or MIND, that will provide economic sustainability training at the Turners Falls Women's Resource Center program. One year into the project has already produced results: of the eight women who started, one woman has already identified and implemented her goal of moving her family across the country to pursue her and her family's dreams. Four other women are moving toward achieving their various goals for financial independence. Three women experienced life challenges that shifted their priorities for the better.

 

Other grantee work:

Face the Facts, a project of Berkshire United Way (Berkshire): Pittsfield teen pregnancy rate far exceeded state and national averages with 56 births for every 1,000 teenage (ages 15-19) in 2013. The Face the Facts coalition intends to decrease this rate through peer mentoring and comprehensive sexual health education in all of Berkshire County's thirteen school districts. Over the last year the group:

  • Worked with partner organizations and arranged for three teachers to be trained in a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum.
  • They organized other teachers, volunteers and community members to help present a proposal to institutionalize the curriculum for Reid Middle School's sixth grade. They succeeded. The Pittsfield Public School Committee unanimously approved the course in May.
  • The course will now be implemented on a pilot basis to two sixth grade physical education classes.

Re-envisioning Foster Care Together: Treehouse Foundation (Hampden): This project is creating a model for foster care in the region, and nationally. Partners include the THRIVE program in Holyoke (0-5 years old), the HEROES Youth leadership program in Hadley, and the Treehouse Community in Easthampton. This year:

  • The HEROES program presented Youth Truth 2015 at Hampshire College which included spoken word, poetry, and other performances used to help dispel myths about youth in foster care.
  • HEROES implemented a Legislative Shadow Day at the Mass. State House and in Washington, D.C. during National Foster Care month.
  • They are also exploring program replication in the Framingham area of greater Boston. Replication introduces new opportunities to engage older women and advocate for the benefits of intergenerational, affordable housing to meet needs of foster children, their adoptive and guardian families and older Americans.

First-ever Donor Advised Fund: A brand-new way of investing with your Women's Fund was established this year. Donor Advised Funds allow us to expand our partnerships with organizations while connecting donors directly to the work that inspires them. The Survivor's Recovery Fund is our first Donor Advised Fund. It was established to distribute economic empowerment grants to organizations in our region - like the Elizabeth Freeman Center and Safe Passage - that help women who have experienced partner abuse or sexual assault access emergency funds for food, rent, and other basic needs. In the next fiscal year, we expect to make up to 20 small grants from this fund totaling about $15,000 in funding to the community.

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Summit for Success

On Friday, March 5, at UMass Springfield, Donna P. Hall, President & CEO of the Women Donors Network, was the keynote speaker at the "Summit for Success," presented by your Women's Fund. The event was designed to bring together over 100 non-profit and state and national decision-makers on the issue of improving the lives of area women and girls, and to begin discussions on coalition building. Other presenters included: Sara Gould, Smith College Activist-in-Residence, former President and CEO Ms. Foundation for Women; Kat Allen, of Communities That Care Coalition, Franklin County; and Tuti Scott, of Imagine Philanthropy. Summit Next Steps: A Steering Committee will be formed from those who indicated they were interested. Some have already begun a movement on collaboration begun at the Summit and all is being shared on our Summit For Success page on Facebook.

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Strategic Communications and Marketing

We engaged with new audiences through social media, allowing us to increase awareness about issues that impact women and girls.

With the help of our marketing consultant, Cardinale Design, we produced a record number of polished email communications, print ads in BusinessWest and other targeted publications. We updated our website to include a twitter feed on the homepage, carousel of upcoming events and engagement opportunities, and we were the first non-profit in the state to produce an all-digital annual report.

We also had a record number of earned-media placements including articles in The Recorder, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, MassLive and The Republican, Mass Non-Profit News, and television coverage on WWLP, Mass Appeal, and Fox News.

LIPPI graduation photo

Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI)

In May we celebrated 33 new LIPPI graduates at the Women Lead Change celebration at the Log Cabin. It was our largest celebration of graduates since the program's inception five years ago. We also honored Attorney General Maura Healey and Mass. Treasurer Deb Goldberg with a She Changes the World award. A new video about the impact of LIPPI was also unveiled at the event and has now been shared hundreds of times online.

We have also received about 30 applications for our 6th LIPPI cohort, which will begin in September 2015. Though we've increased the cost of tuition in order to keep the program sustainable, we've expanded LIPPI scholarships and a corresponding Employer Sponsorship form has been created for individuals to apply for corporate LIPPI tuition support. We are also working with companies and businesses in the area to invite them to underwrite the cost of their employees attending the program. LIPPI provides women the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become our region's community leaders and elected officials.

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Community Outreach

On Tuesday, March 31, it was announced that our CEO, Elizabeth Barajas-Román was appointed to a state advisory committee on wage equality by State Treasurer, Deb Goldberg. Of this work, Elizabeth shares, "I don't think it's too bold to say that Massachusetts could be the first state in the nation to reach wage equality with these initiatives."

In June our CEO, Elizabeth Barajas-Román was honored by Business West as a 40 Under 40 awardee. Elizabeth's outreach in the community on behalf of the Women's Fund, has also included work with a Latino Task Force comprised of Latino leaders within the Hampden region who meet regularly to discuss education, leadership and community improvement. She also meets regularly with the Financial Literacy Trust Board as a result of her appointment to this committee by State Treasurer, Deb Goldberg. Elizabeth has been invited to speak to groups throughout the region including League of Woman Voters of Massachusetts, Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, Springfield College, Elms College, New England Women's Policy Conference and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield.

We look forward to accomplishing even
more together in coming year. Thank you!


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