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We both initiate and invite proposals from within the SouthCoast region. Throughout 2022- 2023, priority will be given to living-wage focused education and training, particularly in the areas of early childhood education, and career preparation and health, safety, and wellbeing, including reproductive health information and access. Blueprint areas will be considered as well.
Our grantmaking is dedicated to closing the gender gap that exists on the SouthCoast. Currently full-time working women in New Bedford earn 77% of their male counterparts in equivalent positions. At the same time 82% of women ages 25 – 44 are high school graduates compared to only 75% of men. Nineteen percent of women in this age group hold bachelor’s degrees compared to 16% of men, and 6% of women hold graduate or professional degrees compared to 4% of men.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic which dramatically impacted the SouthCoast region, we made a strategic decision to alter our 2020 grant process. We awarded emergency grants to frontline agencies that were able to deliver the most critical human services: Shelter, Food Security, and Mental Health.
The following agencies and organizations were awarded one-time unrestricted grants to address COVID-19 pandemic needs:
For more information on how COVID-19 has affected the status of women and girls in Massachusetts, particularly the childcare effects, see Child Care and Education During COVID-19: A Report on the Economic and Social Impact on Women in Massachusetts
The successful LifeWork project, a five-year visionary program conceived by the Women’s Fund SouthCoast to assist low-income women achieve a better life for themselves and their children, ended in 2020. The accomplishments of the LifeWork graduates were robust and measurable, and demonstrated how women can advance with proper support. We are delighted to announce that Bristol Community College Women’s Center has adopted the LifeWork project, reimagined it as the Parenting Advancement Pathways Program, and will continue its legacy by empowering women through advocacy and education.
The goal of the LifeWork project was to offer participants a path that made it possible for them to earn a living wage. The initiative targeted predominantly single mother heads of households and promoted their economic mobility by building on and adapting a five-point collaborative plan put forth by Empath (formerly the Crittenton Women’s Union) in Boston. The plan’s five pillars of their Bridge to Self Sufficiency® were employment/career management, family/housing stability, education/training, wellbeing, and financial management.
At the end of 2015, the first year of the LifeWork project, 76% of the participants were gainfully employed. Take a look at their accomplishments at the end of five years.
Initially 20 women participated in the project, and all attained improved outcomes for themselves and their children. Their accomplishments after five years are stellar:
The Parenting Advancement Pathways Program at Bristol Community College Women’s Center, based on the LifeWork model, is an innovative program exclusively designed to support parenting students with wraparound services often found outside the college experience.
The initiative promotes economic mobility by providing holistic support and skills to help low-income parents, from diverse backgrounds, move toward economic independence and college degree attainment. It provides individual support and access to resources that are often difficult to obtain for low income/first generation parents. This program will help provide opportunity and stability for women to balance education while raising children on their own.
The program will provide resources such as holistic case management, financial and career planning, counseling, day and evening child care support, and on-going educational advisement that leads to degree attainment
The Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) grant helped to create a program, Mujeres Victoriosas, a support and resource group for immigrant women and mothers from Central America.
The goal of the program is to help participants share lived experiences, to develop mutual support actions, and to hone their leadership skills so they can become increasingly a voice in the community. The grant stipends provide a lead facilitator and community outreach coordinators to address barriers immigrant women face, such as language, lack of formal education and legal immigration status. Immigrant women are important contributors to the local economy by forming the backbone of labor in New Bedford’s $1B fishing industry. This program helps to mobilize and to lift up their collective voices to speak out and affect societal change.
The group meets bi-weekly and includes a Spanish-speaking regional resource on topics such as education, health, housing, benefits, trauma, abuse, sexism, racism, and xenophobia. From these meetings, leaders emerge who become resources for other women in their community.
Through CEDC’s broad partnerships in the community, we have been able to connect the group to a wide range of organizations in New Bedford including: New Bedford Public Schools, City of New Bedford Health Department, SC Fair Housing, the New Bedford Women’s Center, The Greater New Bedford Health Center, South Coast Counties Legal Services, United Way/Family Resource Center NB Immigrant Support Network.
The YWCA recognizes that coalition building, legislative advocacy, and the mobilization of public support requires a dedicated staff person to manage these responsibilities.
This multi-year grant provides salary relief to aid the director of advocacy and resource development, who sustains and grows the YWCA’s advocacy program, coordinating legislative campaigns and advocacy activities for Fiscal Year 2021.
This staff member develops and maintains relationships with regional and statewide associates, community groups, and other key partners, policymakers, and their staff. Other responsibilities include mobilization of public support and action, providing information to supporters about legislation, policies, social, or political movements related to eliminating racism, empowering women, and accessing information about how people can take action. Often individuals are asked to contact their legislators, participate in a rally, attend a fundraiser, complete a survey, and/or share information on social media about the importance of an issue. This staff member sponsors events that engage the local community on advocacy issues related to gender equity and racial justice.
The Women’s Fund Grants Committee oversees grantmaking in accordance with the Fund’s mission. The Committee takes a strategic approach to accomplishing, over time, the recommendations of the Economic Blueprint for Women through investing our resources.
The Committee develops funding priorities, considers the timing of grants, refines grantmaking parameters, issues RFPs, communicates with potential grantees, and reviews proposals. It also maintains ongoing relationships with grantees, including assessing the impact of grants, and the needs of grantees to be more effective in their work. All projects are evaluated and shared with appropriate organizations and individuals.
Grants Committee Members
Meg Steinberg, Chair
Jeanne M. Costa
Mary McCurry Peggy Bacon Darlene Spencer
What Drives Us
We imagine a world in which women and girls are valued and their voices heard.
The success of women and girls ripples through the community to make a more just place for all.
Local women helping local women. We advocate, we advance. Our collective voice initiates change.
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