By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Whether it is career planning or healthy lifestyle choices, the Women & Girls’ Fund at the Main Street Community Foundation has helped females of all ages improve the quality of their lives by supporting a variety of programs.
Over the past 16 years, the fund has awarded nearly $400,000 in grants and immediate response support for programs and organizations that help women and girls gain the skills they need to lead successful lives.
In 2016, the fund awarded a record $42,570 in grants to 15 local organizations, including the Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington and the Southington Valley Midget Football League (SVMFL).
Grants from the fund are made possible by proceeds from the annual Wonder of Women event and two other funds: the Barbara Hackman Franklin Fund for Women and the John & Gloria DiFrancesco Fund for Women & Girls. But since three additional named funds at the foundation supported proposals submitted to the Women & Girls’ Fund, the total amount of grant awards for these organizations was $45,465.
Jeanine Audette, past chair of the Women & Girls’ Fund Advisory Board, said there was a total of $100,000 in grant requests in 2016.
During the Women & Girls’ Fund annual meeting held at the DoubleTree Hotel last Tuesday, the 2016 grantees were honored.
“Our grantees are amazing organizations, staffed by dedicated, passionate individuals who want nothing more than to expand and enhance the programs they provide. They are masters of accomplishing so much with so little,” said Audette.
A group of committed educators, parents, grandparents, healthcare and childcare providers, business owners, civic organizations and community members who work together to ensure that young children in Southington are healthy and ready for school, ECCS received a $4,500 grant from the fund.
The grant will help enhance the development of young children in music and movement by providing training and supplies to 31 home child care providers in Southington.
Joanne Kelleher, the executive director of ECCS, said a nationally-known music therapy company located in Southington will partner with these providers, “The goal is to have the children learn movement and music activities. It helps with their growth and fine motor skills…improve balance in young children and homes their listening skills,” said Kelleher.
Established in 1963, SVMFL received a $3,250 grant, which will support safety head gear for Southington girls in the Powder Puff football program. Powder Puff began five years ago at SVMFL, and “has grown exponentially since then,” said Brian Dunne, the marketing director for SVMFL, who also serves as a coach.
“We ended up having six concussions in our Powder Puff division,” said Dunne. “Within Powder Puff it’s life-building skills, it’s team building, it’s motivation, and allowing the girls to have success.”
Other grantees that were honored during the event include: Bristol Youth Lacrosse, Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, Inc., Chippens Hill Middle School, Wheeler Clinic, Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center, Boys & Girls Club and Family Center of Bristol, Bristol Youth Services, Chapter 12 Sports & Fitness, Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut, Prudence Crandall Center, Plymouth Family Resource Center, For Goodness Sake and The Children’s Museum.
Established in 2001, the Women & Girls’ Fund is a community-based, permanent endowment of the Main Street Community Foundation that supports programs that work to improve the conditions and opportunities for females of all ages in Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington, and Wolcott.
Last year, the fund’s 15th Anniversary initiative, the First 500 Challenge, was an opportunity to reach the goal of the original founders—building a permanent endowment of $500,000.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, nearly 150 donors supported the Challenge, and there are 42 members of the “500 Club,” which is a designation for those who donated $500 or more to the challenge, said Dawn Nielsen, chair of the Women & Girls’ Fund Advisory Board.
“The First 500 Challenge provided everyone an opportunity to be part of making a difference in the lives of women and girls,” said Nielsen.