By Danielle Jackson
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Like their counterparts in a growing number of other communities throughout North Carolina, hundreds of women in Western North Carolina are pooling their resources and supporting community causes they care about.
Thanks to a $196,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., and support from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in Asheville, 270 women in an 18-county region have joined Women for Women.
With each member contributing $1,000 to the funding pool, plus $100 to cover operating costs, the “giving circle” has raised $891,000 and makes grants to promote the self-sufficiency and well-being of women.
“The current focus of Women for Women is to help the most vulnerable women in crisis situations and help economically disadvantaged women rebuild their lives and become more self-sufficient,” says Karen Moss, donor-relations officer for giving circle and for the community foundation.
Women for Women reflects a growing trend among a diverse groups of individuals to team up and use their money, time and know-how to make a difference in their communities.
NCGives, a new donor-advised fund the Kellogg Foundation created at the Raleigh-based North Carolina Community Foundation, is promoting and supporting giving by African Americans, Latinos, women, young people and other groups.
Grants by Women for Women range from $35,000 to $100,000 for each nonprofit or public agency, and focus on “safety nets to prevent setbacks, such as joblessness and hunger,” Moss says.
Western Carolinians for Criminal Justice, for example, received $100,000 over two years for an intensive outpatient-treatment program for women in Buncombe County who are involved in the criminal justice system and the county’s department of social services.
And REACH of Jackson County received $41,604 to launch a new program to help women escaping domestic violence and sexual assault by providing them with life-and-job-skills training.
Each giving-circle member has a voice and a vote on how to spend the grant dollars, and the group each year has an opportunity to reassess and refocus grants.
The group, now in its second year, recently held its second annual “Power of the Purse” luncheon, attracting 500 people and raising more than $40,000 for The Women’s Fund, a separate endowment.
And the group plans to hold educational sessions on financial well-being and child care.
“This is our first giving circle, so we’re learning as we go,” Moss says, “but we are thrilled with the energy and passion that women are bringing to this initiative.”