A local all-women nonprofit founded only four years ago continues to have a big impact in Arlington.
Members have provided career training scholarships for homeless and low-income clients in Arlington working with the YWCA. Fans of live music that is performed at the Levitt Pavilion now enjoy a smartphone app thanks to these women. The stunning public art project featuring stars dotting the city landscape was funded by this group. The women have given money to help victims of domestic violence. And last week, their latest round of grants — totaling $100,000 — will do more good for other causes.
And all with a $1,000 check. Actually it was a bunch of $1,000 checks. But that’s the power behind the premise of Women Inspiring Philanthropy: Dozens of women writing $1,000 checks adds up to big bucks going out to community projects. Since the group formed in 2012, it has grown to more than 80 members who each donate at least $1,000 a year. These pooled resources have resulted in more than $725,000 in grants.
“It’s not about charity; it’s about making a difference. It’s about making our community a better place,” says Linda Dipert, founder of Women Inspiring Philanthropy. “The potential of women’s capacity and collective contribution is enormous.”
Feeling the love in the latest grant awards was the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington, which received $50,000 to implement a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum at each of its branches.
“Women Inspiring Philanthropy’s investment will allow our clubs to provide new STEM education opportunities in a fun, interactive and collaborative setting to ignite an interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Nadia DiStefano, development director at the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Another $50,000 was awarded to Dental Health Arlington so the agency can serve more Arlington school district students with its SMILES program. SMILES helps low-income children by placing sealants on teeth, providing oral health education and doing screenings to determine other needs.
The grant “means we will be able to help an additional 3,000 children in need in the AISD classrooms with our preventive oral health program,” said Dental Health Executive Director Nancy Manion Blinn. “We are so appreciative of this collaborative effort and that these incredible women recognize the importance of oral health as it’s related to improving early childhood education.”
Each year Women Inspiring Philanthropy accepts proposals in five focus areas: culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness. After a committee evaluates grant applications, it visits sites and selects finalists for the general membership to consider.
Members Lisa Jamieson and Jeannie Deakyne say they are excited about the opportunity to help meaningful local causes with leveraged donations that make a big impact.
“It’s inspiring to give sizable grants to our community,” Dipert said. “In addition to the grants, the women gain support through the social interaction with each other and have become informed philanthropists, connecting their confidence with capacity to create transformational change in our community.”
‘Giving Circles’ at Woman’s Club boost scholarships
Generous women who already do a lot of heavy lifting at the Arlington Woman’s Club by working on the group’s annual fundraising event and a slew of other club projects decided they wanted to do even more. As a result, five “Giving Circles” have formed with the sole purpose of boosting the amount of college scholarships that AWC awards each year.
At its recent scholarship reception, the club handed out $3,500 scholarships to one senior from each of six high schools in Arlington. The money for these awards came from both the club’s fundraiser and from the Giving Circles (along with a sprinkling of various other donors).
“Giving Circles are one of the major sources of funding for our scholarships,” said scholarship chairwoman Sue Mattlage. “AWC has always been an organization dedicated to giving to our community. The members want to help deserving students continue with their education after high school.”
The Giving Circle idea was the brainchild of former AWC member Mary Laport, who formed the first circle with the late Dorothy Jones in 2004. “I read a magazine story about giving circles,” Laport said, “and thought it would be a great way to raise money for our fund.” The concept caught on and a second circle organized a couple of years later with a third and fourth established in 2010.
Mattlage’s dedicated scholarship committee received nearly 90 applications this year and had the difficult task of choosing only one student from each school through a process that includes interviews with finalists. “Committee members say this is the most rewarding service they have given at AWC, and they appreciate the deserving students we have interviewed.”
Congratulations to Taven Christopher (Arlington), Andrew Martin (Bowie), Ian Block (Lamar), Rachel Bui (Martin), Karen Jaimes (Sam Houston) and Zachary Mohammodu (Seguin).
A new Giving Circle formed this year for the purpose of providing a scholarship to the son or daughter of a first responder. Lamar senior Erin O’Brien was the recipient of the inaugural $3,500 award.
The family of AWC member Jean King annually funds a $1,000 Excellence in Education scholarship to a senior planning to major in education. Abigail Miller from Bowie took home the honors at this year’s reception.
Elliott Blumberg, a supporter of AWC and a scholarship donor told Mattlage at a recent gathering, “I favor donating to the Arlington Woman’s Club Scholarship fund because every dollar donated goes to the students. Your club takes no administrative fees. I feel my money is well spent.”
The club has awarded more than $185,000 in scholarships since it established the program in 2002. High school counselors work with students to make them aware of AWC’s scholarship opportunities. To inquire, visit www.awctx.org or call the office at 817-277-7666.
Events at a glance
- KidsNotes programs are June 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Lake Arlington Branch Library and June 21 at 11 a.m. at the Barnes & Noble located at The Parks mall. Providing early exposure to music and the arts to help develop the creative spark in youth, Symphony Arlington’s KidsNotes program offers a one-hour hands-on presentation to young children giving them the opportunity to hear, see, touch, and explore different aspects of classical music and the orchestra. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Creative Arts summer show, We are Monsters, is June 23 and 24 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at St. Maria Goretti Church, 1200 S. Davis Drive. Tickets are $5 each. Purchase at www.creativearts.org.