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Women’s fund hires director, eyes independence

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Susan Ehrman

Susan Ehrman

Ret Boney

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Just in time for its seventh annual grant cycle, and five months before it’s slated to become an independent nonprofit, the Women’s Impact Fund in Charlotte has tapped Susan Ehrman to serve as its program director.

Ehrman comes to the fund, a program of Foundation for the Carolinas, after serving for 15 years as development director for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region.

The Women’s Impact Fund was launched by the foundation in 2002, and since then has awarded a total of more than $1.8 million to 24 nonprofits in Mecklenburg County.

And on Jan. 1, 2010, the group will become a 501(c)3 nonprofit, still housed at the foundation, but a completely separate entity, says Ehrman.

The fund has about 430 members, each contributing $1,200 each year for five years, $1,000 of which is pooled to award grants to local organizations, and $200 of which is used to cover educational and administrative costs.

In its last funding cycle, the Women’s Impact Fund awarded a total of $409,000 in grants to five local groups including the North Carolina Dance Theatre and United Family Services.

“We felt we’d reached a size where it was time to come out from under that umbrella and go forth and do it on out own,” Ehrman says of plans for independent status.

The fund is launching a strategic-planning process this week, an exercise she says will provide “great clarity about our direction.”

In the meantime, the fund is accepting grant requests for its 2009-10 funding cycle, during which it plans to award five grants ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 each to groups working in the areas of arts and culture, education, the environment, human services and health.

While the total amount to be awarded this year is not yet known, Ehrman says the goal is to give away as much as possible.

“This is a tough time in terms of growing the fund,” she says. “We’d like to provide at least as much support as we provided last year to local organizations.”

Funding guidelines are available online and letters-of-inquiry will be accepted through Oct. 29, although early submissions are encouraged.

Interested nonprofits are invited to an information session to be held Sept. 9 from 9:30-11 a.m. at the YWCA on Park Road in Charlotte. Reserve a spot by emailing pdelarosa@rbh.com.

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