Sagashus Levingston addresses the crowd at A Fund for Women's annual event. This year, it was titled "An Intimate Evening with Sagashus T. Levingston,"

A Fund for Women announced four grants supporting efforts to reduce poverty and increase opportunities for education and family-sustaining jobs at its annual dinner and fundraiser on Thursday, October 12. Madison365 is the media sponsor of the event.

Latino Leadership Academy serves low-income or unemployed Latino adults. Latino Academy of Workforce Development (LAWD) is the only organization in Dane County to offer a GED course in Spanish and a Madison College transition program in Spanish. The $15,000 grant will assist more than 60% of LAWD students who are women enrolled in its job training programs. These programs lead to stable, well-paying entry-level jobs in the construction and transportation fields. Our grant will not only help Latinas secure gainful employment, but will also benefit their families.

Onward Odyssey expands the impact of the Odyssey Project, a life-changing initiative to empower adults near the poverty level to overcome adversity and pursue higher education. Onward Odyssey’s program of college-level courses and counseling offers a supportive learning community for the more than 400 alumni of the Odyssey Project. The $19,500 grant will help fund a fourth year of Writing Composition to the Onward Odyssey program, plus Special Education Paraprofessional courses and the second pilot year of the Food Systems and Food Justice course. 

Women in YWeb Career Academy (YWebCA) builds on the successful YWCA Madison education and job placement program for women and people of color, who are underrepresented in technology. Participants receive instruction in website development, job readiness, team building, and computer programming. The $30,000 grant will help fund two student cohorts enrolled in the YWebCA, expected to comprise 40 to 50 students, half of whom will be women. The ultimate goal of this program is to increase access to tech jobs for women and people of color.

“These nonprofits have already proven their effectiveness in strengthening the lives of women and girls, and we’re thrilled to support them in growing their impact,” said AFund for Women Board Chair Nicole Jenkins.

In addition to its 2017 grants, A Fund for Women continues to support the Doyenne Group Evergreen Fund, an innovative entrepreneurial resource designed to financially support the launch, growth and sustainability of businesses owned by women and people of color. A Fund for Women’s $10,000 grant is pooled with resources from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and the city of Madison to provide a mixture of grants, loans, equity investments, and program support for Madison area startups.

Requests from grant applicants in the 2017 cycle totaled $283,560. Each application outlined worthy programs that would address pressing challenges in Dane County. A growing body of research directly links community, state and national vitality to the empowerment of women. The Institute of Women’s Policy Research rated Wisconsin a C+ grade in employment and earnings. In its decision-making, the Advisory Board of A Fund for Women took into account applicants’ capacity-building and alignment with our Earn-Save-Invest initiative, with a bias toward fully funding programs over mere partial funding.

“A key takeaway from the decision-making process is that we need to grow our endowment fund if we want to increase our impact,” said Jenkins.