Salons Expand our Circles

One of the best ways to forge connections is to sit people down to discuss a compelling topic. That’s why the Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund has gotten into the business of sponsoring salons. Bringing women together to gain new insights and exchange ideas, these events provide a chance to meet like-minded people and maybe make new business contacts or friends.

They also help gain more supporters for the Women’s Fund.

Like the intellectual gatherings that started in Europe in the 16th Century, the Women’s Fund’s salons mix pleasant conversation and education. The fun starts at 5 p.m. at a local restaurant, with drinks and light refreshments. Then it’s time for a presentation.

In November 2013, a salon in Binghamton featured a talk by Jennifer Wegmann of Binghamton University on how educated, powerful, loving women can combat the harmful messages the media send to young girls.

In June 2014 in Owego, Liz De Vivo shared the story of her heart and lung transplant to illustrate how each of us can help to create miracles every day.

Women who gathered in Norwich in October 2014 heard Colgate University professor Ellen Percy Kraly discuss her work with the Bwindi Community Hospital in rural Uganda, with the goal of promoting maternal health. (see photo above)

Each salon offers plenty of opportunity for in-depth discussion, says Cory Jacobs, chair of the development committee of the Women’s Fund, which organizes the salons. “Everyone is really focused on the topic at hand. When the subject is women, that impacts all of us personally.” It’s fun to see women who work and socialize in different circles start to bond over the presentation, she says.

The events held in Binghamton usually fill to capacity, as loyal attendees keep coming back for more. At the same time, salons in Owego and Norwich are helping to draw more women, from different communities, into the fold.

The hope is that women who discover the Women’s Fund through a salon will later attend the group’s annual breakfast, Jacobs says. “Then if they take it a step further and volunteer with the Women’s Fund, they can grow and nurture those relationships that started at the salons.”

Getting to know people with similar interests is always rewarding. For women who connect at the salons and other Women’s Fund events, those happy encounters often grow into something even greater—a chance to collaborate toward the goal of enhancing the lives of women and girls in our region.

Gifts Promote Girl Power

Since its earliest days, the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation has made grants to support and empower not only adult women, but also the rising generation of girls.

Girl at microscope photo

Some of the programs we fund help girls gain skills and knowledge they will need to build successful futures, whether in careers or in their personal lives. For example, the Women’s Fund has provided money to WSKG for a program that got girls excited about science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM subjects.

In Waverly, we supported a program to cultivate young entrepreneurs. We also funded a series of workshops in Richfield Springs to train girls in life skills that ranged from healthy eating and good grooming to car care and sound dating choices.

Other programs that have gained our support have stressed character and self-esteem. Among them is “Girls on the Run,” a multi-county athletic program that we have proudly funded three times. We’ve also explored how to help girls develop healthy attitudes toward their bodies, thanks to a talk by health and wellness instructor Jennifer Wegmann at the 2013 Women’s Fund annual breakfast and then a Women’s Fund salon that Wegmann led.

Teaching girls how to keep themselves safe is another important focus for the Women’s Fund. Some of the workshops in Richfield Springs addressed that issue. So did a program on Internet safety that we funded at the Family Enrichment Network, and a violence intervention program for women and older teen girls, sponsored by Opportunities for Otsego.

Girls grow into women so fast, they leave us breathless. Members of the Women’s Fund want to make sure that the girls in our lives, and throughout our communities, grow up healthy, capable and strong.

Women’s Fund Marks Ten Triumphant Years

The year 2012 was certainly a landmark for the Women’s Fund. In November, more than 100 supporters got together at the Binghamton Club to toast the Fund’s tenth anniversary and hear about its latest round of grants.

The Fund awarded $7,600 through its regular grants program, including: $1,750 to the Broome County Council of Churches to conduct outreach to isolated elder women and caretakers; $600 to Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways to teach up to 100 girls about the issue of hunger; $1,750 to the Life Choices Center in Binghamton for updates to the “Smart Choices” education program; $2,000 to Mom’s House of Johnson City to provide motivational DVD programs for parents; and $1,500 to the Tioga County Rural Ministry to buy personal care products for low-income single mothers.

Thanks to a special tenth anniversary gift from the Community Foundation, the Women’s Fund also awarded $10,000 to Family Planning (formerly Planned Parenthood) of South Central New York to provide free health care to immigrant women who are clients of Binghamton’s American Civic Association (ACA). Available services include annual gynecological exams, cancer screenings, family planning, HIV testing and more.

Language barriers, lack of transportation, the convoluted health care system and other obstacles often keep recent immigrants from gaining access to the health care services they need, says Debra Marcus, chief executive officer at Family Planning of South Central New York. “We want to make it as simple as possible.”

To that end, a Family Planning educator and clinic receptionist will come to the ACA several times a month to talk with immigrant women who attend classes there, perhaps even signing them up on the spot for appointments.

Many immigrants consider the ACA a safe zone, says Andrew Baranowski, the organization’s executive director. “This is a place that they’re familiar with and can trust, and where there are folks who can assist them with their language needs.” Family Planning staff will work with the ACA’s English as a Second Language teachers, and possibly with leaders in the immigrant communities, to help more women take advantage of preventative health services available through Family Planning, he says.

As 2012 drew to an end, members of the Women’s Fund found yet another achievement to celebrate--a successful close to Five in 5, a five-year campaign that brought the Fund’s endowment to $500,000. Having reached that ambitious goal, the Women’s Fund gains even greater power to enhance the lives of women and girls in our communities.


2015 Women's Fund Mental Health Focus Group Report

In March 2015, the Women's Fund Leadership Committee held a focus group of area providers to assess the mental health needs of women and girls and the services available to meet those needs. Find the full committee report here.


2012-2013 Women’s Fund Needs Assessment 

To better understand the needs of women and girls in the region and to better meet those needs we conducted a needs assessment in 2012. Read the full report here.


Together We Can Accomplish What None of Us Could Do Alone

Our Mission
Our Goals
Our Structure
What We Have Accomplished So Far
How You Can Help
Current Members of the WF Leadership Committee

View this informative video about The Women's Fund!

Our Mission: "The Women's Fund exists to improve and empower the lives of women and girls in the region through collective and engaged philanthropy among women."

Women have made important strides in recent decades, achieving significant leadership positions in business, academia, government and the military. How can it still be, then, that two-thirds of American adults who live below the poverty line are women? How is it that more than one-third of all women-headed households in the U.S. fall below poverty level? What are we to think in a nation where a girl without a high school diploma has a 90% chance of being poor and raising children who will also live in poverty?

In 2002 we resolved to put the collective power of our hearts, minds and money to work to find solutions to these and many other serious issues that have a profound impact on women and girls, so we could make a real difference right here in our own communities.
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Our Goals

  • Address the serious issues that impact women and girls in our region by grantmaking to organizations addressing those issues.
  • Build a permanent endowment that can be used to help the region's women and girls now and for the future.
  • Provide an efficient way to turn the power of donors' individual contributions into a collective philanthropic force that can achieve greater impact on women's issues than any single smaller donation could.
  • Involve donors to the Fund in the process of deciding how the grant funds are spent and which agencies and projects receive them.

Our Structure

The Women's Fund Leadership Committee oversees the activities of the Fund and serves as an advisory committee to the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation for South Central New York, which has the legal responsibility for the operation of the Fund. The Leadership Committee's members (as well as those of other Women's Fund committees) are drawn from donors to the Fund.

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What We Have Accomplished So Far

The Women's Fund has made $111,300 in grants to over fifty projects and programs at nonprofit agencies throughout the five-county region we serve. We have funded programs that address: sexual violence and domestic abuse, financial literacy, small business development, character and leadership development for girls, women's health, parenting skills, Internet safety and more.

As of January 31, 2016 The Women's Fund balance was $ 644,334. As an endowed fund, we adhere to the Community Foundation's spending policy of 4%.  In 2015 we awarded $20,000 in grants for a total of $111,300 awarded since inception in 2002.

Women's Fund grants awarded to date.

How to apply for grants from The Women's Fund.

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We invite you to join us in the work of The Women's Fund!

Your gift can be in the form of cash or check. For greater convenience, you can make a pledge over time or use VISA or MC.

For those who aren't ready to make a gift right now, and are interested in learning more about planned giving options or bequests, we are happy to speak with you at your convenience. (Contact us)

Ready to make a gift or pledge of support?

Call us at (607) 772-6773 or download a convenient form to mail to:
Community Foundation for South Central New York
520 Columbia Drive, Suite 100
Johnson City, NY 13790

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Current Members of the Leadership Committee

Whitney Racketa, Chair Sandra Johnson
Betty Goodwin, Vice Chair Roberta Melville
Jennifer Bastian Merri Pell-Preus
Karen Bearsch Margherita Rossi
Marcia Craner Nicole Rouhanna
Joan Eisch Jennifer Small
Katherine A. Fitzgerald Marcia J. Steinbrecher
Amy Howard  
Cory Jacobs  

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give a gift today!