$2.5 million: Dollars raised for endowment
$1 million: Dollars invested in the community
158: Grants awarded to community causes
$72,500: Scholarships provided for women in transition
31: Scholarships and assistance provided for domestic abuse survivors
It all began with an informal gathering of women who shared a desire to give back to women and girls in their communities.
The Women's Fund is established to support programs that enhance the lives of all women and children, involving women as leaders and donors in the process.
The Women's Fund has grown to also include component funds, each with a specific purpose, all with a passion for serving women and girls. They are Julianne Williams Funds, Education Fund for Anna Marie's, Fund for Global Women, Starfish Fund and Women's Fund Scholarship Fund.
Since 2002, the Women’s Fund has been dedicated to helping women and girls live their best lives.
For many, that starts with educational programs.
Since the Women’s Fund established a scholarship program for women at Anna Marie’s Alliance six years ago, 37 domestic abuse survivors have benefited and have become everything from nurses and psychologists to paralegals and cosmetologists.
One mother of two children who received a scholarship from the Women’s Fund recently wrote:
“I am living comfortably now and no longer receive any public assistance. Thank you for believing in me."
The scholarship provided her the opportunity to become a nurse. “I am excited that I can provide my children with a decent life – free of abuse. I am just getting ready to be a first time homeowner."
“Women we have worked with are all very grateful for the support given to them by the Women’s Fund as it was the incentive they needed to get into the system and learn about financial aid and (other) scholarships, which of course help them stay the course,” former Anna Marie’s Executive Director Maxine Barnett said.
The Education Fund for Anna Marie’s is just one of the ways that the Women’s Fund is investing in education in the community and making an impact.
Over the past decade, the Women’s Fund has provided over $1,000,000 in grants for programs for girls, women and elder women in this community.
On what started out as a just another fall day, a small group of women gathered at a St. Cloud home to talk about the possibility of creating a place where women would unite to raise funds and provide essential dollars to programs that serve women and girls.
They came with questions and left with a shared desire to start a Women’s Fund at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation.
From the beginning, Central Minnesota embraced the idea of a fund that supports women and girls, and quickly got behind it. In the past 1o years, the Women’s Fund raised more than $1 million and established an endowment to support programs that serve girls, women in transition and elder women.
Since 2002, dozens of organizations have benefitted from the more than $600,000 grants awarded through the Women’s Fund. Hundreds of community members save the date each year for the annual fundraiser Women on Stage. The event known for its fun, casual themes, has become a marquee event in the community.
The idea for the Women’s Fund sprung from a conference Barb Carlson attended just after she came to the Central Minnesota Community Foundation from the College of Saint Benedict. A booth about a Women’s Fund at the Milwaukee Community Foundation caught her attention.
It soon became a top priority when the Central Minnesota Community Foundation received a $100,000 challenge grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation and pledged to match the dollars 2 to 1 in three years.
The Women’s Fund has grown to include component funds, each with a specific purpose. They include Julianne Williams Fund, Education Fund for Anna Marie's, Fund for Global Women, Starfish Fund and Women's Fund Scholarship Fund.
Today, the Women’s Fund at CMCF is one of more than 100 Women’s Funds across the country. The local vision and results led other Minnesota women to start Women Funds at the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation and the Willmar Area Community Foundation.