2016 Grant Recipients
On Wednesday, June 15, Womenade Boston members met to select grant recipients for 2016. Members heard presentations from 8 exciting finalist organizations and then cast their votes to select the winners. This year's $90,600 in grants brings the five-year total investment Womenade Boston has made in Boston-area non-profits serving teen girls and women to over $475,000.
Organizations/Programs that Empower Teen Girls Age 12-21
Investment: Graduate Support Program
The Graduate Support Program starts working with girls in 6th and 7th grades, and creates a college-bound culture that permeates throughout all aspects of their programming. In 8th grade, the team works with students to determine which high school would be the best fit, and guides students and their families through the application and admissions process. Once students are in high school, they monitor academic performance, help arrange necessary tutoring or counseling, and arrange social and community service events to keep the alumnae connected to each other and Esperanza. Graduate support staff also work with 11th and 12th graders and their families to navigate the college application process. They keep in close contact with their college-aged alumnae, in many of the same ways they connect with their high school-aged alumnae: visits to campus, care packages, advising and mentoring, and social and community service events. This program is critical to the long-term success of Esperanza’s students, and without it, many of their alumnae would struggle to graduate from high school, navigate the college admissions and financial aid process, and graduate from college.
Silver Lining Mentoring
Investment: All-Girls Learn & Earn Program Cohort
Learn & Earn is a 12-month skill-building curriculum with a matched-savings component that provides youth with a support network and opportunities to learn employment, health, and life skills in preparation for adulthood. The Learn & Earn curriculum covers 10 life skills domains, including money management, employment, nutrition, identity, social supports, education, health, housing, transportation, and communication. Each domain has several learning opportunities which the youth will complete to learn essential skills and work towards their individual educational and savings goals. For a girls-only cohort Silver Lining Mentoring will emphasize topics that particularly affect young women, such as healthy relationships, sexual health and birth control, nutrition, and self-esteem and identity. Throughout the program girls will meet with their peers, Silver Lining Mentoring staff, and volunteer Life Skills Mentors for 10 reflection groups, each focused on a specific life skill. Reflection groups help girls master new skills, build support networks, and strengthen relationships with their peers. Silver Lining Mentoring incorporates identity-building work into each reflection group to help girls recognize, articulate, and own their story as a young woman with experience in foster care.
Organizations/Programs that Empower Women Age 22 and Older
Investment: Budget Buddies Affiliate Program Pilot
Budget Buddies was founded in 2009 to promote financial literacy among low-income women. They partner with local banks, service agencies, educators and volunteers to provide customized programs that address individual client needs. Their programs seek to empower low-income women with the core money-management skills and confidence they need to become economically self-sufficient and control their financial futures. They combine six-months of instructional workshops with the personalized one-to-one mentoring essential for developing money management skills that are both strong and sustainable.
Since launching their pilot program they have successfully partnered with 19 non-profit organizations, trained more than 220 volunteer coaches and served nearly 350 clients in 31 programs. The success of their innovative approach has significantly increased the demand for their programs. Rather than create satellite offices of Budget Buddies to run programs, they have determined that the quickest and most cost-effective way to meet this demand is to develop an Affiliate Program that will help local agencies create and run their own programs – both in English and other languages – at a minimal cost.
Elizabeth Stone House
Investment: Crisis Intervention Specialist
Elizabeth Stone House (ESH) offers emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence but despite ambitious expansion plans, it will never have the capacity to shelter the thousands of victims from the neighborhoods they serve. Recognizing this, and the fact that shelter is often not the preferred intervention sought by DV victims, ESH has created a new program, Strong Where You Are, which takes an intentional, focused approach to serving community-based survivors. Statistics prove that the ratio of community-based clients to residents has climbed to 80% of its clients. Strong Where You Are helps these survivors by promoting safety, self-efficacy, financial independence and stable housing.
ESH will use their Womenade funding for the creation of a Crisis Intervention Specialist. The services ESH currently provides come into play primarily as a crisis subsides, yet fully half the calls they receive come from people in active crisis. This position will provide the front line intervention during an episode of domestic violence. The specialist will take the call, assess the danger level of the caller, provide guidance on escaping the situation safely and what to do with children affected, and coordinate any necessary response with the police and emergency room personnel to assure short-term safety.
2016 Runners Up
Investment: Art 4 Girlz
RAW established girls-only programming in 2000 to help address the gender and social barriers to girls’ success. Girls in the RAW community suffer from the effects of poverty, failing schools, dangerous neighborhoods and the high rate of child abuse and neglect. RAW’s art-based programs serve as a powerful intervention. By staffing the programs with art therapists, RAW effectively addresses the issues that regularly arise in the lives of the girls. To fully understand the risks girls face, art therapists receive clinical supervision weekly, and work through girls’ issues such as depression, drug overdoses, eating disorders, and self-harm behavior. Documentation of these clinical crises and challenges encountered by its girls will enable RAW to pilot a comprehensive risk assessment of their adolescent population.
Investment: High-Risk Young Mothers Program
Through the High-Risk Young Mothers Program, Roca is successfully changing the life trajectories of teenage mothers with significant behavioral and life challenges. It supports its young mothers with intensive mentoring, helping them to understand the realm of life opportunities available to them, and motivating and working with them to build skills over time that are necessary to achieving independence and self-sufficiency.
Roca is taking significant steps to revamp its workforce development programming to align its vocational tracks with the interest/skills of its young mothers and, especially, with careers that provide a clear pathway to a living wage – namely, in the Hotel Hospitality, Office Administration, and Pharmacy Technician fields.
Investment: Working Opportunities for Women (WOW)
Recognizing that historically its enterprises engaged more men than women, Project Place set out to enhance the enterprises with the addition of a new business targeted towards women, particularly those with children experiencing homelessness. Over the last year and a half with grant support from a foundation, Project Place created the WOW business. Its goal is to engage women in an enterprise that will provide the same core principles of their other enterprises – real work for real pay, supportive supervision, wraparound individual case management, and transferable skills. But unique to WOW, it will address the issues that kept women from past participation: negotiating the benefits system, day care, and balancing work v. family issues with an emphasis on group support and problem solving.
Volunteers of America
Investment: Women’s Hello House
Women’s Hello House specializes in treating women, including ex-offenders, who have a primary diagnosis of substance use disorder and also have experienced domestic violence and/or trauma. Hello House currently accepts women coming out of the Framingham Correctional Institute. Historically women referred to programs at VOAMA by the prison have low graduation rates. The prison has no available resources to determine inmates’ suitability for VOAMA recovery programs prior to their release, and without that kind of assessment, their ability to make an impact on these former inmates is hampered.