How is a local foundation taking part in the national debate on women’s reproductive rights and insurance coverage? How does a regional group react to the inflammatory language of radio sensationalist Rush Limbaugh? What does a group do when it sees one of the few women in the U.S. Senate, Olympia Snowe, step down because of the polarization in politics?
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) made history during the month of March, Women’s History Month, by engaging in these national issues through innovative ways and continues to do so everyday. As a recipient of the Difference Makers Award, the foundation will use this latest recognition to elevate the conversation on women’s issues to a civil tone and educate communities about its programs that support women locally. The Difference Makers Award is offered by Business West and was presented on March 22 at the Log Cabin, Holyoke. The Women’s Fund was the only organization to be receiving this award, along with six individuals.
Carla Oleska, CEO of the Women’s Fund said, “This award is something we’re very proud to receive. We’ve been on the forefront of women’s issues for years through the projects we design and those that we fund.” One of those initiatives is the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact which trains women in the skills necessary to become civic leaders, to impact policy, and to seek and hold on to elected office. I have been a participant in this year and would encourage my peers who live in the four counties, or know someone who might be interested to participate. To date, 75 women from Western Massachusetts have participated in the program, resulting in at least 5 women running for office, two governor’s appointments, and countless other examples of steps into leadership. Information and registration can be found on the WFWM website. In addition to being named a "Difference Maker", the Fund has also been chosen to receive the Community Champion Award from the Latino Scholarship Association! Our Fund is truly "Redefining What’s Possible" for women and girls right here, right now.
This month, the Fund is hosting two Fellows from Brazil! Stay tuned, you may see us at Mount Holyoke…
Since 1998 the Women’s Fund has awarded $1.7 million dollars in grants, supporting over 50,000 women and girls. Last year the Women’s Fund supported 19 organizations from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties. The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts advances social change to create economic and social equality for women and girls in Western Massachusetts through grantmaking and strategic initiatives.