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Opportunity

The Women’s Fund of Central Texas

 
 

In Austin, women still make $9,000/year less on average than men in the same jobs. Nearly 13 years ago, Austin Community Foundation and community leaders knew that by investing in women and their children our whole community would thrive.

MariBen Ramsey, then vice-president of ACF, had been aware for several years that other cities and other community foundations had established Women’s Funds. At the time, the data showed that causes supporting women and girls in the Central Texas community were receiving only a small percentage of Foundation giving. After discovering that Little Rock, Arkansas had a Women’s Fund, MariBen knew that if Little Rock had one, then Austin certainly needed to start one!

“I turned to Donna Stockton Hicks to see if she would help get the Fund going,” MariBen says. Donna, an interior designer, is also a philanthropist and champion for many local nonprofits. “Donna was all in, and we gathered a small group of women to see if they would help put it together.”

The guiding framework of the fund was the principle that when women are economically secure, safe, and healthy — then families and communities are economically secure, safe, and healthy. The original 15 members contributed dues, which were then distributed to organizations sharing that vision, and decided upon by the committee.

One of those grant recipients was Saint Louise House, which helps women with children to overcome homelessness by providing housing, case management, counseling, life skills training and employment services. One mother illustrated the impact this had on her family, simply by explaining the best part of her Saint Louise House apartment:

“Having a front door with a lock. I’m safe and my children are safe. And we have a place to call our own.”

Since it began, the Women’s Fund has grown to 150 members, who have invested more than $1,400,000 into the Central Texas community, through grants to nonprofits working to improve the lives of women and children.

--Shelley Seale