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By Elizabeth Peña

Happy New Year! I look forward to an exciting year in 2022. As the Director of Community Impact at Austin Community Foundation, I am eager to share what’s ahead for the Women’s Fund. We’re kicking off the new year with a call for volunteers to join our grantmaking process. More about that in a minute.

First, if you’re new to (or unfamiliar with) the Women’s Fund and our work, here’s a brief synopsis: we believe that maintaining the economic security of women and children is essential to closing the opportunity gap, and we know we cannot do this without addressing the racial wealth and health divide faced by women of color.

This week, the Women’s Fund announced its 18th grants cycle, which will award $500,000 in unrestricted, general operating grants to 25 nonprofits in Central Texas. This funding will support organizations and programs in the following areas:

  • Housing – provide affordable housing that includes a network of support and/or opportunities for long-term wealth building.
  • Child Care – increase access to affordable, convenient, culturally competent, and quality child care for families with low incomes.
  • Education – provide access to an ecosystem of support – academic, emotional, and financial – for women pursuing educational dreams.
  • Unintended Pregnancy Prevention – provide access to consumable, unbiased pregnancy prevention resources.
  • Women’s Health – focus on reducing health disparities faced by women of color.

These strategy statements reflect the need to build trust in our community and fund culturally competent programs and organizations. In addition, the 2022 grants cycle will:

  • Apply an equity lens to the scoring rubric;
  • Require unconscious bias training for all grants committee members;
  • Include community members in the review process and final vote; and
  • The final vote will be conducted without any identifying information to curb implicit bias.

Grants Committee members needed
We cannot fulfill the Women’s Fund strategies without our investors. As critical supporters of this work, we invite all active investors to participate in the 2022 grants review and selection process this year, chaired by  Marcia Del Rios. The Women’s Fund Grants Committee, in partnership with community reviewers, play a critical role in reviewing all applications, conducting Zoom learning sessions, and selecting final grant partners. In total, the time commitment is 4 to 6 (virtual) 90-minute meetings and on average, 8-15 hours of outside application review and scoring. To confirm interest and your subcommittee preference, complete this form by January 31.

Community reviewers needed
We know we cannot achieve equitable outcomes without a selection committee that is representative and inclusive of all women in Austin. As such, the Women’s Fund invites diverse members of the community with varied experiences and expertise to participate in the 2022 grants cycle as a community reviewer. A $100 stipend (in the form of a gift card) will be offered upon completion of the application scoring. If interested in volunteering, please sign-up by January 31. More details and key dates, including a link to confirm interest can be found here.

I hope you’ll consider this opportunity to serve and join me in this important work to support women and children in our community. If you have any questions about the Women’s Fund, please contact me.