Wake women award $130,000 in grants

Marjorie Menestres, Danita Morgan, Jan Elmo
Marjorie Menestres, Danita Morgan, Jan Elmo

Ret Boney

RALEIGH, N.C. – A group of 143 women gathered in Raleigh to award grants totaling $130,000 to three local nonprofits serving women and children  in the Wake County area.

The latest round of awards from the Women’s Network of Wake County brings the total amount donated over the last four years to $424,000.

“I’m impressed by the funding level you’ve raised to give these grants,” said Laurie Emrich, the keynote speaker at the network’s annual awards luncheon held Nov. 8 at the Marriott City Center in Raleigh. “And that they are larger grants to fewer organizations.”

The Women’s Network of Wake County, a program of the North Carolina Community Foundation, was created in 2006 with the goal of engaging local women in philanthropy while serving the needs of local women and girls.

Each member pledges to donate $1,200 a year for five years, with $1,000 of that going to a grantmaking pool, while $100 covers administrative costs and $100 is given to the foundation’s Statewide Women’s Fund.

Emrich, founder of the Threshold Foundation and a member of Women Moving Millions, a movement designed to encourage wealthy women to donate $1 million or more to women’s funds, praised the network’s efforts, and its focus on helping women and children.

“I want to live in a world where cooperation, equity and justice thrive,” she said. “The advancement of women’s rights holds the ability to advance the rights of all. If women have full and productive lives, that improves the quality of life for their children and their communities.”

And while 75 percent of those in poverty are women and children, Emrich said, women’s issues receive less than 7 percent of the funding pie.

The grants awarded by the Women’s Network of Wake County will help narrow that gap.

Urban Ministries received $50,000 in general operating support for its Helen Wright Center for Women, which provides shelter and transitional housing for about 250 homeless women each year.

A grant of $45,000 will fund a new mobile classroom for Read and Feed, a three-year-old organization that takes books and meals to elementary-age children in their own neighborhoods.

The grant will allow the organization to double to 700 the number of children it serves annually, says Jan Elmo, president of Read and Feed.

“You’ve made quite a difference in our children’s lives,” she said of the grant.

And SAFEchild received $35,000 to hire a child abuse evaluation specialist for its Advocacy Center, which annually serves 325 child victims of abuse and sexual assault and their parents.

“We cannot do it by ourselves,” Marjorie Menestres, executive director of the organization, said of the group’s mission to prevent child abuse. “You remind us that we are not alone in our efforts to help children.”

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