The 2017 Annual Meeting: Celebrating $5 Million in Cumulative Giving!

  By Kirsten Pittman

“Be brave, not perfect,” was the motto of the year for outgoing Women’s Impact Fund (WIF) Board Chair Anne Essaye and a fitting theme for our 2017 Annual Meeting.  A packed audience gathered on the evening of May 9 at the Foundation For The Carolinas to celebrate a series of milestones.

Nearly 500 members. Five local nonprofits granted a combined $440,000 this year – marking the first time WIF has fully funded grant requests across all categories. And, as the crowd of WIF members and guests acknowledged with a champagne toast, more than $5 million in collective giving to organizations serving critical needs in the community since the WIF was launched in 2003.

According to Essaye, that impact is a driving force behind all we do within WIF.

“We are able to spread our net wider in the community,” Essaye added. “To me, that’s the ‘why.'”

This year’s grantees were selected from more than 130 entries thoroughly vetted by the Grants Committee, then voted on by the full WIF membership. They include:

  • Arts & Culture: ourBRIDGE for KIDS, which received $100,000 to support its After School Creative Arts Learning Program, incorporating arts initiatives and cultural experiences into summer language programs for immigrant and refugee children.
  • Education:WINGS for Kids, Inc., which received $100,000 to advance its social-emotional education programs supporting K-5 students by providing daily after-school mentoring and instruction in select Title I schools.
  • Environment: Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, which received $100,000 to expand its technical program staff to enhance its ability to patrol waterways, investigate reports of pollution and expand education programs in area elementary schools.
  • Health: Matthews Free Medical Clinic, which received $80,000 to support its mission of providing free, quality healthcare to low-income and uninsured residents.
  • Human Services: Supportive Housing Communities, which received $60,000 to provide housing and support for men, women and families, especially veterans and those with mental illness.

In an exciting follow-up to the grant announcements, a flash philanthropy “sWIFt Gift” of $5,000 was awarded in real time to Heart Math Tutoring, one of the ballot finalists that did not receive a 2017 grant. Audience members sent their votes by text, cheering as the total count on the screen revealed the winner.

WIF’s impact has gone beyond just the dollars awarded through our grants, said Essaye.  Because of the the rigorous process involved in applying for, and receiving, a WIF grant, organizations find they are more likely to win future grants; WIF funds act as a multiplier.

Amid the celebrations and heartfelt thanks from this year’s grantees, WIF also celebrated its history. Our founding members were honored with corsages and special recognition, with Essaye giving them credit for building WIF into one of the largest women’s collective giving groups in the country.

“They were bold, they were brave, they were innovative,” she said.

On a motion from Nominating Chair Mary Gallivan, WIF members also approved WIF’s leadership for 2017-2018, and Essaye officially passed the gavel to 2017-2018 Board Chair Deborah Majewski, who will be stepping into the leadership role alongside new incoming chair Arrington Mixon.

As members filed out of the meeting, they received a timely parting gift – a blue touchstone engraved with a simple reminder: “Be Brave.”

To view more pictures from the event click here