Since 1993, the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois has been working to change the lives of women and girls in central Illinois. The original goal for the Women’s Fund was finding 1,000 women to each donate $1,000 to create a million-dollar endowment. While that fundraising model has evolved over time, the initial goal of creating a million-dollar endowment has remained the same. As we begin our 30th year, it is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the Women’s Fund endowment has now surpassed the $1 million balance!
The recent surge to $1 million is attributed to an extremely generous gift from a Founding Member of more than $300,000. This level of giving to the Women’s Fund establishes a legacy that will live on beyond all of us. With a million-dollar endowment, the Women’s Fund will grant more than $45,000 a year to deserving programs, in perpetuity. Through 2022, the Women’s Fund endowment has awarded 140+ grants totaling more than $475,000 to support programs focusing on women and girls.
Thank you to the 200+ Founding Members who have donated $1,000 or more over time, thank you to the dozens of sponsors of the annual Leader Luncheon, and thank you to the individuals who donated ANY amount. This milestone is possible because of you. The Women’s Fund will continue to bring women’s issues to the forefront in central Illinois as they continue building the endowment for an even larger collective impact.
The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois was founded in 1993 from an idea shared by Pat Barton, a CFCI Board Member at the time. Pat worked with Donna Haerr, then executive director, Deb Ritschel and Jay Goldberg to create the Fund as a way to inspire female philanthropy. “Power does come from money, and women do control much of the money in this country,” Haerr told the Journal Star when the establishment of the Women’s Fund was announced.
As women grow in influence and financial strength, so does their ability to give back. You can change the lives of women and children in central Illinois by contributing to the Women’s Fund endowment.
Why? Because when women prosper, communities thrive; and when communities thrive, the world becomes a better place for everyone.
Surprisingly, less than five percent of charitable contributions go towards funding women’s programs.
Today, we are inviting you to a new level of giving – to elevate women and girls to the top of your philanthropic list and to invest in them with even greater commitment. The Women’s Fund welcomes gifts of any amount to help build the endowment. Once individuals contribute $1,000 or more over time, they are recognized as a Founding Member.
2022 Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards
Left to right: Eileen Leunig, Rasheedah Na’Allah, Audrey Kamm, Cindy Morris, Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer, Karen Jensen, Ronda Guyton (Photos courtesy of Daryl Wilson Photography)
The 2022 Luncheon was a record breaker with 491 attendees! We had 38 fabulous nominees, an empowering keynote address by Mayor Rita Ali, and incredible honorees. Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate women’s leadership in central Illinois!
This year’s winners are as follows:
Young Women’s Service Award: Rasheedah Na’Allah
Emerging Leader Award: Audrey Kamm
Education Award: Cindy Morris
Arts Award: Eileen Leunig
Healthcare/Wellness Award: Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer
Business/Professions Award: Karen Jensen
Community Service Award: Ronda Guyton
The Luncheon was started by the YWCA of Peoria over 40 years ago to recognize local women who best exemplify excellence in their chosen profession and commitment to the success of other women. The Women’s Fund assumed ownership of the Leader Luncheon in 2013 and has remained committed to its growth, success and excellence over the years.
For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sarah Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (309) 674-8730.
Michelle Nielsen Ott – Chair
Erynn Dykstra – Vice Chair
Lindsey Kerr – Treasurer & Secretary
Mae Gilliland Wright
Kala Pierce – Success Grants Committee Chair / Succession Planning
Michelle Sanders – Leader Luncheon Committee Co-Chair
Kathy Schaeffer – Leader Luncheon Committee Chair
Anupama Uddavolu – Development Chair