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.
Left to right: 2023 Women to Women Leader Luncheon Award Winners. Left to right: Autumn Gray, Megha Garg, Hedy Elliott-Gardner, Nikki Romain, Alice Driscoll, Emily Jacob-Rudesill and Lorene King (Photos courtesy of Daryl Wilson Photography)
The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) honored six local
women and a young woman who is a high school senior at the Women to Women Leader Luncheon Awards held at the Par-A-Dice Hotel in East Peoria on May 10, 2023. A central Illinois tradition, the Leader Luncheon Awards began in 1978. During the past 45 years, nearly 300 women have been recognized with Leader Luncheon Awards which recognize local women who best exemplify excellence in their chosen professions and a commitment to the success of other women.
This year’s winners are as follows:
· Young Woman’s Service Award: Autumn Gray
· Emerging Leader Award: Megha Garg
· Education Award: Hedy Elliott-Gardner
· Arts Award: Nikki Romain
· Healthcare/Wellness Award: Alice Driscoll
· Business/Professions Award: Emily Jacob-Rudesill
· Community Service Award: Lorene King
The funds raised by the Women to Women Leader Luncheon will, in part, help grow the Women’s Fund endowment and provide grants to local programs and causes that strengthen families and communities by empowering women and girls.
For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sarah Fletcher at email@example.com or call (309) 674-8730.
|Organization Name||Program Name||Amount Awarded|
|Center for Prevention of Abuse||PreventEd: Relationship Abuse||$5,000|
|Hult Center for Healthy Living||Empowering Young Girls Through Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Education||$5,000|
|Dream Center Peoria||Zoe House||$5,000|
|Soulside Healing Arts||Community Doula Program||$5,000|
|Loving Bottoms Diaper Bank||Empowering Periods: Breaking the Cycle of Period Poverty||$4,000|
|Living To Serve Foundation||Women’s Health Fairs||$3,300|
|ART, Inc.||EmpowHER Our Girls||$3,000|
|CREW309||CREW309 Member Expansion||$2,500|
|Peoria Grow Your Own||Teachers for Tomorrow: Preparing Future Teachers for Success in the Classroom||$2,500|
|Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois||Pilot Postpartum Recovery Kits||$2,000|
Erynn Dykstra – Chair
Mae Gilliland Wright – Vice Chair
Lindsey Kerr – Treasurer & Secretary
Michelle Nielsen Ott – Immediate Past Chair