Women for Women Giving Circle Announces $309,988 in Grants Supporting WNC Women and Girls

Total Giving Now Exceeds $4.1 Million

(May 7 - Asheville, NC) – The Women for Women giving circle recently awarded seven grants totaling $309,988. With these awards and in its 15th year of grantmaking, the giving circle has invested more than $4.1 million to support programs serving WNC women and girls.

Women for Women’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls through collective giving, and the grant program supports the facilitation of safe living and work environments. The giving circle always welcomes new members.

“These grant applications were submitted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steering Committee Chair Julia Akers. “But the needs of underserved communities or victims of sexual or domestic violence only increase in times like these. We are honored to support the work of nonprofits providing these important services.”

Women for Women intended to announce the grants at the giving circle’s inaugural Grants Luncheon, canceled due to the pandemic. The 2020 grants are:

Delta House Life Development of Asheville - $40,000 over two years to fund the Girls Thrive for Womanhood program that offers after-school activities and field trips designed to build self-esteem, leadership, appreciation for education and work skills, and a sense of community among girls of color in Asheville. The program equips girls with the tools necessary to combat common forms of bullying, including access to mental health counselors and a safe facility that encourages respect and inclusion.

Helpmate - $50,000 over two years to expand and support its volunteer program. Volunteers provide direct services, such as answering the hotline and providing shelter support, and serve as advocates by conducting prevention education and community outreach. Grant funds will pay a substantial portion of the salary, benefits and office supplies for a part-time Volunteer Manager to support the Director of Outreach and Volunteer Programming.

Light a Path - $20,000 over two years to continue its program of providing yoga, meditation and strength-building classes to incarcerated women and teen girls in the Juvenile Misdemeanor Diversion Program. Grant funds will cover operating expenses including a new part-time Volunteer Outreach and Onboarding Coordinator. Light a Path volunteers teach program participants self-regulation strategies enabling women and girls to make healthier choices and help prevent recidivism and violence.

Options - $42,988 over two years to expand its successful anti-domestic and sexual violence programs and treatment capacity to children and adults in Burke County’s Latinx community, a currently underserved immigrant community. Grant funds will support a part-time Latinx Liaison who will provide services and outreach in Spanish and guide clients to necessary resources and support, empowering them to live without violence.

Pisgah Legal Services - $100,000 over two years to sustain and expand free civil legal aid to underserved, low-income victims of crime, primarily victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and elder abuse in 11 counties in WNC (an expansion of 3 counties). Unlike criminal cases, the courts do not provide free legal representation to the poor in civil cases. In domestic abuse and assault cases, research has shown that access to legal counsel significantly reduces further abuse and increases the chances for obtaining a protective order by 50%. Grant funds will help support two additional attorneys and a new social worker who will primarily serve rural victims.

Safelight - $50,000 over two years to create the Safe Works program, a collaboration with the Life Works Program of Community Action Opportunities (CAO). Women graduating from Safelight’s Job Training program will receive three additional years of job and life skills training and case management. Grant funds will support salaries and benefits for the Job Training and Life Works program staff at Safelight and CAO. The goals are to help survivors of domestic violence secure and sustain employment, attain educational and vocational goals, learn to make better use of available income, obtain and maintain safe housing, and build self-esteem and a strong work ethic.

Western North Carolina Workers’ Center (WNCWC) – $7,000 for general operating support. Immigrant women in WNC face unique challenges and struggles to meet their own and their families’ needs, while at times tolerating situations of sexual aggression, domestic violence and abuse in their workplaces, communities and homes. WNCWC is one of the only immigrant-led organizations in the region that engages immigrant women in safe and inclusive spaces to address issues of sexual violence.

“The pandemic has made people feel the weight of social isolation, and this is how many Latinx people in our community feel when seeking support services from Options and other community resources,” said Kristy Graf, Options Executive Director. “Our vision is an inclusive community where everyone feels safe and validated. Funding from the Women for Women giving circle will help make that vision a reality for the Latinx women and girls in Burke County.”

Women for Women is an initiative of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC). The Women’s Fund, a CFWNC endowment addressing the unmet needs of women and girls, contributed $56,580 to the grants.