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Charlotte women’s fund forges ahead

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Women's Impact Fund

Women’s Impact Fund

Ret Boney

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After striking out on its own in January, the Women’s Impact Fund is preparing for its eighth-annual grant cycle and planning a membership  recruitment event for next month.

Formed as a program of the Foundation for the Carolinas in 2003, the group of 418 women each year awards five grants to Mecklenburg County nonprofits addressing  local needs.

Each member of the Women’s Impact Fund agrees to donate $1,200 a year for five years, with $1,000 of that amount funding grants and $200 covering administrative and member-education costs.

Halfway through its first year as an independent organization, the fund is faring well, says Susan Ehrman, the group’s program director.

“Our goal last year was to maintain membership and grant-making given what’s going on in the economy,” she says. “We did that and now it’s time to move up and give more money away.”

While the exact amount to be granted next spring depends on the number of returning members and new recruits, Ehrman hopes to exceed the $392,000 awarded last May.

This year, the fund will award grants ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 to five local nonprofits working in the areas of arts and culture, education, health, the environment and human services.

And while the group typically funds new projects, Ehrman says, it will consider requests for ongoing efforts.

“We understand this is not a time when a lot of organizations are creating new programs,” she says. “They’re just trying to survive. We recognize there are times you’re just trying to replace funding you’ve lost.”

Interested nonprofits must submit a letter of inquiry to the fund by Nov. 1, and organizations interested in learning more about the grants process are invited to attend an optional information session from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Sept. 23 at the YMCA on Park Road in Charlotte.

For a reservation, call 704.973.4589 or email dwideman@womensimpactfund.org.

The organization also is planning an event to recruit new members on Oct. 7, part of its long-term goal of attracting enough members to award five grants annually of $100,000 each.

The event will be held at the new Mint Museum in Charlotte and is sponsored by Bank of America.

And in an effort to retain members who have finished their initial five-year commitment, the fund is introducing an “evergreen policy,” which allows membership renewal, along with a $1,200 donation, on an annual basis.

Since its inception, the fund has awarded a total of almost $2.2 million to 29 organizations.

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