Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Women’s philanthropy making a big impact in Arlington

A local all-women nonprofit founded only four years ago continues to have a big impact in Arlington.
A local all-women nonprofit founded only four years ago continues to have a big impact in Arlington. Courtesy photo

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.”

To learn how to get involved or how to apply for grants, contact Dipert at 817-271-5809 or WomenInspiringPhilanthropy@gmail.com.

Hand in Hand luncheon to feature Aron Ralston

The inspiring story of Aron Ralston will be the program at the annual Hand in Hand luncheon hosted by Arlington-based charity Helping Restore Ability on June 24 at the Joule Hotel in Dallas.

Many will recall Ralston’s remarkable story of being stranded in a remote canyon after a boulder pinned him against a canyon wall in Utah in 2003. He ultimately severed his own arm below the elbow to get out of the canyon and walk miles to meet teams trying to rescue him.

“This event marks the kickoff of Helping Restore Ability’s 40th-anniversary yearlong celebration to raise awareness of the valuable mission HRA has successfully been delivering,” Executive Director Vicki Niedermayer said.

Niedermayer said the agency’s sole focus revolves around “a future where no Texan with a disability lacks the resources to live a full and independent life. Aron’s presence at this signature event will draw attention to the challenges our clients face every day.”

Ralston’s bestselling memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was adapted for the film 127 Hours. He is now a highly sought-after inspirational speaker, and his story will keep the audience spellbound.

“May your boulders be your blessings. May you be able to embrace them. And may you find what’s extraordinary in yourself,” Ralston wrote in a statement about his amazing story.

Tickets to the luncheon are $125 per person, and proceeds will enable Helping Restore Ability to continue serving people with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities with in-home attendant care. Purchase online at www.helpingrestoreability.org, or call Kimmie Hack at 817-635-6020.

Fort Worth Young Women’s Leadership Academy graduates inaugural class

Thirty-two seniors at Young Women’s Leadership Academy became the first graduates of the Fort Worth school district’s first single-gender school at ceremonies last week. The school opened in 2010 through a partnership with the Young Women’s Preparatory Network.

One of only seven Texas schools in the network, the academy features a STEM-focused curriculum. The Fort Worth campus has received a slew of academic distinctions from the Texas Education Agency and ranks in the top 2 percent of schools statewide on the STAAR exam.

Last month a signing-day event celebrated that all academy students have committed to attending college or university this fall. “The Class of 2016 received offers of more than $6.5 million in academic and merit scholarships at 275 colleges and universities, with an average of $203,125 per graduate,” spokeswoman Juliette Coulter said.

Receiving the GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) award at the graduation was Margie Ruffin, chosen as the “senior who exemplifies the spirit of the school.” Ruffin plans to attend Spellman College.

“High school graduation is the expectation, but college graduation is the goal. Our goal for college scholarships was $3 million, and they’ve more than doubled that amount,” said counselor Kendra Strange.

Learn more about the school at youngwomensprep.org.

Events at a glance

  • Showcase in the Square — A Father’s Day Drum and Bugle Corps Event is from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Rustin Park Pavilion in Southlake Town Square. The free concert will feature the Crossmen Drum Corps, Genesis Drum Corps and Metro Praise Youth Orchestra. Bring friends, family, chairs and blankets. Contact John and Rhonda Schock at 817-937-4467 or check out www.crossmen.org.
  • Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is from 9 a.m. to to noon Saturday at Trinity Trails in Fort Worth. The 1-mile all-male walk in high heels is hosted by SafeHaven of Tarrant County to bring awareness to domestic violence. The event is part of a national movement where men gather to support the women who are important in their lives — their moms, wives, sisters, daughters, neighbors and friends. To register and get more information, visit www.safehaventc.org/events/walk-a-mile-2016. Registration fee is $25.
  • Pomp and circumstance: If you’re in Grapevine, stop by the school administration building and congratulate Kaye Rogers and the Grapevine-Colleyville board of trustees on the recent graduating class of iUniversity Prep, the district’s virtual academy. This year’s crop of seniors, which doubled in size from the inaugural graduating class last year, was feted recently at a ceremony keynoted by Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf.

Please send your SocialEyes news tips to freeder@star-telegram.com. Keep up with even more community news by liking our page on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SocialEyes.ST. Twitter: @FayeReeder

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