"It is pretty clear to me that many (foundations) want to fund glitzy projects." That was the comment of Ira Strumwasser, Ph.D. of the Michigan Health Care Education and Research Foundation at MWF's 1990 Women and the Future of Michigan conference.
At the Michigan Women's Foundation, we look for projects that make a real difference in the lives of women and girls. Some of the projects we fund that do not appear to be so dramatic may, in the long run, prove to be among the most necessary and effective.
One MWF grant-funded project that illustrates that point is the Ann Arbor-based Domestic Violence Project/SAFEHouse. Plainly and simply put, MWF provided support to SAFEHouse for building a computer database.
On the face of it, this project does not sound very exciting nor does it appear to have direct impact on individual women's lives. But, if you look more closely at this project and if you read DVP's recent project report, there are some pretty exciting things going on as a result of MWF's grant.
Service participant data, volunteer information, cash and in-kind donations, media lists, government official contact lists, and a variety of others that have already been entered into the computer system. When DVP wrote their grant proposal to MWF, they primarily expected to use this data to better understand the needs of battered women and their children to improve their grantwriting capabilities. And they're already seeing these kinds of results.
But an unexpected benefit of the grant involves a unique project for raising the money needed to build a new shelter. To finance the shelter, SAFEHouse has launched a campaign to put a one time bond issue on the November ballot, the first such campaign of its kind in Michigan. Sue McGee, Executive Director of SAFEHouse, says, "The whole idea would not have been possible if we had not had the capacity to immediately enter data ... (for) mailings to our supporters for their help and endorsement."
Down the road in Ypsilanti, the SOS Community Crisis Center and its Prospect Place Family Shelter Program have been looking at longer-term ways to help women become economically self-sufficient. With a 1991 MWF grant, they have been developing new approaches to employability support for recently homeless women heads of household.
SOS's final report to MWF describes the results this way: "Throughout, our participants were able to experience some actual progress with their goals at a time when they otherwise would have felt 'stuck' and less productive due to being in a homeless shelter. Each goal obtained was recognized and celebrated within the group...for many, this was the first experience of success and completion that they could truly own as their own."
One program participant, Betty, wanted to finish her college education, attend film school, and pursue other goals. But she was living in a shelter and had no plan to guide her in accomplishing other goals. Through the SOS program, she has taken the first steps toward accomplishing those goals and says she has learned that, "Good things come tho those who wait, and work."
The project has been a learning experience for the SOS staff, as well. According to their report, "Our experience led us to become somewhat more modest in our expectations for individual economic transformation." And they have also learned that an aggressive approach to outreach is the key to dealing with difficulties in sustaining continuity of participation in the program.
Both the SAFEHouse and the SOS Crisis Center grant projects are quietly and without fanfare making an difference in the lives of Michigan women and girls.
The Michigan Women's Foundation held its third annual benefit dinners in May and June. The two gala events attracted nearly 750 guests and netted over $75,000 for the Foundation.
This year's honorees included three outstanding women in the health care professions: June E. Osborn, M.D., Dean of The University of Michigan School of Public Health and Chair of the U.S. National Commission on AIDS; Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D., retired Chief Physician for the Ford Motor Company World Headquarters and the first African-American woman to graduate from Wayne State University's School of Medicine; and Sharon M. Buursma, President and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Services of Western Michigan, and a leader and innovator in home health care.
Explaining the purpose of the annual events, southeastern Michigan event co-chair and MWF Trustee Pearl M. Holforty says, "Each year, MWF honors women who have paved the way for others and broken new ground as women and as professionals." Holforty is the president of Liberty BIDCO in Southfield.
Added Bobbie Buttler, western Michigan co-chair and also a Foundation Trustee, "The three women we just honored represent some major milestones and accomplishments achieved here in Michigan in the health care field." Butler is the Equal Employment Officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing.
Other event co-chairs were MWF Trustees Teresa Decker, an attorney with Varnuum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett, and Jane R. Thomas, Ph.D., the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Wayne State University's Medical School in Detroit.
The Grand Rapids event was held May 20 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Event emcee was Jennifer Moss of WOTV-8. The Docs of Dixieland, a musical group featuring local doctors, entertained guests.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel was the site of the June 9 Dearborn event. Joann Watson, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, emceed the event. Singer Marla Jackson and pianist Bill Meyer entertained guests with three songs chosen especially for the honorees.
The honorees were introduced at both events by special friends and admirers. At the Grand Rapids dinner, Margaret Sellers, Assisting City Manager for Administration and Cultural Services for the City of Grand Rapids, introduced her former personal physician, Dr. Peebles-Meyers. Douglas Mack, M.D., Public Health Director for the Kent County Health Department, introduced Dr. Osborn. And Jean Hitchcock, Director of Public Relations for Butterworth Hospital, and Diana Sieger, Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Foundation, conspired to present a good-natured roast of their friend, Sharon Buursma.
At the Dearborn dinner, Buursma was introduced by her friend and colleague, Rebecca Pott, President & CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association of Southern Michigan. Jack Ryan, M.D., President & CEO of Detroit/Macomb Hospital Corporation, delivered an eloquent tribute to Dr. Peebles-Meyers. Mary D. Fisher, founder of the Family AIDS Network, introduced her friend, Dr. Osborn.
Among the notables attending the event were Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley (a 1991 MWF honoree), Julia Darlow and John Corbett O'Meara, Sate Representatives Mary Brown and Maxine Berman, Wayne State University President David Adamany, Martha Vincent, Dr. and Mrs. Donald C. Austin, Nancy Williams Gram, Karla Scherer and Theodore Souris, Margaret Taylor Smith, Hannah Levin Galadstone, Joel nd Jean Boyuedn, Dr. Robert Burton, Twink Frey, Helen J. Clayton, James and Audrey Sebastian, Hon. Sara Smolenski, and Kate Pew Wolters. Alecia Woodrick hosted several graduates of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), a past MWF grantee.
After expenses, ticket and program book sales for the two events will net the Foundation over $75,000, which will be used to support the Foundation's grantmaking and other programs.
Many thanks to the benefit Executive Committee, led by Butler, Decker, Holforty and Thomas, for their many weeks of planning and hard work selling tickets and program book ads. And very special thanks to the Committee and to everyone who bought tickets and placed program book ads for helping MWF to serve the women and girls of Michigan.
No matter how important and effective the work of an organization, if no one -- including potential consumers of service and potential supporters -- knows about that work, the organization will ultimately fail to achieve its mission. The Michigan Women's Foundation has had the good fortune to get the word out about our work on behalf of women and girls with the help of MWF volunteer Linda A. Wasche, Vice President of Client Services for the Detroit-based public relations firm, Anthony M. Franco, Incorporated.
Attorney J. Kay Felt, another faithful supporter of MWF, first introduced the Foundation to Wsache. She fast became a key member of the Foundation's southeast Michigan annual benefit executive committee, providing critical advice and assistance in marketing and publicizing all three of the events held to date. Besides sharing her advice to on a variety of MWF projects, she brings contagious good humor and energy to every project in which she is involved.
Wasche has more than 15 years of communications experience in a variety of disciplines, most notably in corporate reorganization and crisis communications, providing counsel to both large and small private and publicly held companies. In 1989, she joined Anthony M. Franco, Michigan's largest public relations firm, which ranks among the top public relations firms nationwide. She has also worked in public relations for General Motors, and is a former community newspaper journalist.
She had the distinction at age 23 of becoming one of the youngest faculty members at the University of Detroit, where she directed the school's public relations and advertising curriculum. Her educational background includes a Master of Business and Administration form the University of Detroit, as well as a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication and a Bachelor of Art in Public Relations and Advertising, both from Wayne State University.
Her academic background gave Wasche the opportunity to work with younger women interested in careers that require public relations knowledge and skills. Says, Wasche, "Having been in higher education for a number of years, I know of many talented, bright young women who have become successful in public relations or other fields."
When asked what attracted her to the Michigan Women's Foundation, Wasche says, "I have seen a lot of fortunate women realize their dreams and potential. I am so proud to work with the Michigan Women's Foundation, which helps make this possible for so many more women." And the Michigan Women's Foundation Trustees and staff are proud to call Linda Wasche a friend.
"The times we are living in make it more critical than ever to support programs that enable women and girls to be self-sufficient," says Teresa S. Decker, newly-elected Trustee of the Michigan Women's Foundation.
Decker has been with the Grand Rapids law firm of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett since 1980, where she is a partner. She specializes in zoning and land use litigation, municipal litigation, construction law, and energy and administrative law.
After graduating with highest honors from Grand Valley State College with a B.A. in Political Science, Decker went on to receive her J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she graduated cum laude.
Decker is active in several section of the American Bar Association, the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Michigan, the American Trial Lawyers Association. She is also active in politics and is a past President of the Grand Rapids YWCA.
MWF first became acquainted with Decker when she agreed to serve on the Benefit Executive Committees that plan our annual gala dinners. This year, she served as co-chair of the Western Michigan Executive Committee. See the cover page for more on this special event.
When asked what attracted her to MWF, Decker answered, "The Michigan Women's Foundation is providing a truly essential service statewide. I'm excited about having the opportunity to work with so many committed women as a member of the Board."
The Trustees and staff of the Michigan Women's Foundation welcome Teresa S. Decker to the Board!
When the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association elected me to the college's board of trustees two years ago, I expected to make the modest commitment of a quarterly commute from my home in Greenville, S.C., to Cambridge Mass. There I would presumably add a Cajun dash of geographic distribution to the predominantly Northeastern flavor of Radcliffe's governing board. In exchange for my sage counsel, I expected to enjoy once again the revitalizing company of educated men and women, of which Radcliffe and Harvard have always assembled a critical mass.
What I had not bargained for was a soul-shaking, consciousness-raising exposure to the gender gap of philanthropy. This experience, still so fresh as to be far from fully assimilated, has rendered me a born-again donor.
As soon as I became a trustee, I realized that no matter how willing I was to put at Radcliffe's disposal my 35 years' experience teaching philosophy at various Southern colleges, that was not really what this institution wanted from me. Cambridge already had its full complement of middle-aged philosophers. Nor did the institution seem to need additional wisdom on the care and training of its undergraduates, although I was prepared to offer countless hours of advice.
It was instead my membership on the board's development committee that taught me about the real task of being a college trustee: to give or to raise significant sums of money to support the institution. The operative word is "significant." I was not so naive as to assume that fund raising was irrelevant to the duties of a trustee. I had, back in South Carolina, served on the boards of various community organizations, primarily arts-related and inevitable starving. I was not exactly a virgin when it came to fund raising.
But I was guilty of a cardinal sin in the canon of philosophy: I had been operating on a set of unexamined assumptions abut gender and giving. Radcliffe, famous for shaking her daughters out of dogmatic slumbers, shook me up. Here was a woman's institution that apparently was going to set me a man-sized task: to rethink my assumptions about philanthropy, about my expectations of what I should reasonably give (or to ask others to give) in support of a philanthropic cause in which I professed to believe.
I had previously assumed that my willingness to volunteer on various college committees would, so to speak, buy me a place at the table. Like so many of the Radcliffe alumnae I was to solicit for reunion gifts or in the annual-fund campaign, I had considered it sufficient to donate volunteer time in lieu of money. After all, I had control over more of the former than the latter, given my teacher's salary. I had lost sight of the fact that Radcliffe College was not operating on a barter economy. It required hard currency to run its programs.
Although I recognized that church institutions might claim a tithe of the family income and that the Internal Revenue Service might claim considerably more than a tithe of our family's gross product, I had not developed the concept of a philanthropic percentage claim on our total household resources. The term "stretch gift" was not in my vocabulary, nor apparently in the vocabularies of most of the women I contacted on behalf of Radcliffe. Indeed, many of my peers felt that a dollar a year for every year since graduation constituted an appropriate contribution to the institution that had educated us.
As a side effect, this shake-up had also led me to ponder more general questions about women and wealth. It has made me aware that I, and many other women of my acquaintance, are, like it or not, involved in the power politics of wealth. Our problem begins, I believe, with the word itself. Wealth we define as something that happens to other people; in fact, wealth is whatever is left over after taxes, since everything else is to some degree negotiable. By placing ourselves at a distance from the power and obligation inherent in wealth, we make its responsible use someone else's problem.
Traditionally we have viewed the stewardship of wealth as a masculine obligation. There is a simple historical basis for our assumption: For most of recorded history women have been dealt out of the power game. We have not had access to the mechanisms by which wealth is acquired, so we have had little claim to a voice in how wealth is distributed. Even when women inherited wealth from fathers or husbands there was, I suspect a tendency to hold back from a full sense of legitimate ownership. A woman would be more likely to use this wealth to give a gymnasium in her father's name to his college than to endow a chair in women's studies at her college. Or she would carefully guard the inheritance to pass it on to children or grandchildren.
My marriage and marriages of friends who have submitted to my informal study of household philanthropy are, I hazard, only too typical of the current middle-age, middle-class pattern: Wives, even those of us who work for pay, substitute significant contributions of time and energy for significant contributions of money to the philanthropic causes we support. We rarely make claims of equal access to the family's resources for the purpose of philanthropy. We give relatively small amounts squeezed out of the grocery budget. Or we make a philanthropic meat loaf out of the leftovers from our own (still usually less significant than our husbands') salaries, but only, of course, after we've subsidized all the ballet lessons, violin lessons, karate lessons, summer camps, and semesters in France that the middle class considers necessities of life for its children.
In a recent telling example, I discovered that my husband, a gracious Southern gentleman, had contributed (in both our names) a donation to the local arts center on whose fund-raising committee he served. It was exactly 50 times the pledge I had made to the women's arts foundation on whose campaign committee I had served. Neither one of us had negotiated our contributions in a family council. He gave out of his set of philanthropic assumptions; I gave out of mine. I'll wager this same scenario is being played out all over the country. It seriously affects the financing of institutions and causes that predominantly serve women.
All of us who care about non-profit institutions need to do far more to encourage rigorous and far-ranging studies of gender issues of philanthropy. Have changes in the earning power of American women and the greater access of women to the professions of law, medicine, business, and finance altered patterns of giving? Do women give from different motives, to different causes, in response to different kinds of solicitations, and in different amounts relative to their male counterparts of similar wealth?
In matters of philanthropy we may not be well-advised to settle for that classic Gallic exclamation: Vive la difference.
Editor's Note: Reprinted with permission from The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Opinion-Commentary and Letters, pp. 40-41, June 2, 1992.) Keller Cushing Freeman teaches aesthetics at the Greenville Museum in South Carolina and is an editor of Emrys Journal a literary periodical.
Starting a business is difficult. If you are a woman --- especially a woman from a low-income background -- it's twice as difficult. Women in three Michigan communities are getting training and support to establish their own businesses from three remarkable organizations -- and the Michigan Women's Foundation is playing a special part.
Thanks to generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Grand Rapids Foundation and the Ann Arbor Area Foundation, the Michigan Women's Self-Employment Network has begun a three-year effort to strengthen women's self-employment programs in our state.
MWF is coordinating this special project, whose three members are the Women's Initiative for Self-Employment of the Ann Arbor Community Development Corporation; the Supportive Entrepreneurs Program of the Womyn's Concerns Center (Community Action Agency of Battle Creek); and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women.
In the first phase of Network activity, each member agency has received $30,000 to provide direct assistance to women business owners who have completed training programs and are working to establish and expand their business. Business owners will have access to individualized consulting to develop and implement marketing strategies and financial management programs to help them through the early stages of business development.
In addition to providing hands-on help to women business owners, Network Members are working together to share training ideas, create inter-community support systems for program participants and advocate to remove barriers to self-employment that prevent low-income women from achieving financial self-sufficiency.
Susan Church, MWF Executive Director, observes of the project, "The Self-Employment Network is a perfect example of what the Michigan Women's Foundation is about. It is a partnership of funders, a partnership of women's nonprofit organizations and, above all, a partnership of women themselves whose economic possibilities have been significantly enhanced because we are all working together. Through the Network, we are all making things happen that none of us could have accomplished alone."
MWF's 1990 research report, Women and the Future of Michigan, offered valuable information on the real situation of women and girls in our state. It documented the barriers sill confronting women and girls in the areas of economic equity, health, violence against women and education. In addition, the report provided data about the level of private grant support for programs helping women and girls to overcome these barriers. It also demonstrated how funding programs designed to serve women and girls is a real investment in the future of Michigan communities.
Publication of Women and the Future of Michigan was followed by a statewide invitational conference for funders to discuss its findings. With the support of Women and Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy and Nationwide Insurance, the proceedings from that conference have been transcribed and are available from the MWF office.
Now, two years later, MWF is updating its report. Once again, we will look at how things are for Michigan women and girls, this time incorporating information from the 1990 census and current data from the first report's many sources. The 1992 report will include information about the level of public funding for programs that serve women and it will re-survey the extent of private philanthropy that presently reaches such programs.
The 1992 update, Investing in Michigan's Women, will be published in late September. The report's publication will be followed by a series of invitational regional meetings for funders. Our hope is to learn from funders their view of the role of foundations and corporation in addressing issues that especially affect women and girls. MWF plans to make the summary results of these meetings available early in 1993.
Research and ongoing discussion about the gender barriers confronting Michigan women and girls -- and what can be done to overcome them -- is an important aspect of MWF's mission. The Michigan Women's Foundation is grateful for the partnership of Consumers Power, First of America - Southeast Michigan, the Nokomis Foundation and the Burton and Elizabeth Upjohn Charitable Trust in supporting Investing in Michigan Women.
Note: Copies of Women and the Future of Michigan (1990) and the proceedings of the 1990 statewide conference that followed its publication are available from the MWF offices for a small postage and handling fee. Copies of Investing in Michigan Women and the proceedings of the regional meetings that will follow its publication will also be available. Please use the coupon below to order and/or reserve the publications you want.
PUBLICATION ORDER FORM
Please send one copy of:
__Women and the Future of Michigan - Research Report
__Women and the Future of Michigan -- Conference Proceedings
Enclosed is a check (payable to the Michigan Women's Foundation) in the amount of $___ for each item ordered @ $2.50 per item.
Please reserve one copy of:
__Investing in Michigan Women -- Research Report
__Investing in Michigan Women -- Meeting Proceedings
(Note: You will be billed $2.50 for each reserved copy when mailed.)
Daytime Phone ( )____________________
Q: I know you've tried to explain this, but what does the Foundation do, exactly?
A: We do three things. We give financial support (grants) to programs that help women and girls overcome economic barriers and develop leadership. We give grants and training...
Q: Wait. What's an "economic barrier"?
A: Could be lots of things. Lack of job training, being a single parent, discrimination in education and in the workplace, lack of basic knowledge and confidence about how to manage money...
Q: Okay. Go on.
A: The second thing we do is give grants and training to help the people who run women's programs do a better job.
A: Because there are so many women's nonprofits in Michigan who are doing great work, but are existing on a shoestring. We want to help give them the skills in management they need to sustain and expand their work. And because sometimes learning a new skill is as important as getting a grant.
Q: And the third thing?
A: The third thing we do is encourage other foundations and individuals -- like you -- to put more of their money into programs that help women.
Q: You mean you want me to give more money to the Michigan Women's
A: Well, sure; we think the Foundation is a great way to support women's programs. But it is a great concern to us that so little support from any source reaches programs that empower women and girls. Did you know that less than 5% of the grants from traditional foundations are directed toward women and girls?
Q: Wait a minute. That can't be true. Don't a lot of programs that include
women get support?
A: Many of these programs don't consider that women may have special concerns. Does a job training program really include women if it doesn't include child care while the mother is learning?
Q: So the Michigan Women's Foundation is going to fix this?
A: If somebody doesn't at least try to fix it, we will continue to deprive our communities of the skill and energy of an awful lot of women and girls.
Q: All right; I see your point. But I really don't think I can afford ...
that is, there are just so many things right now...
A: Remember: a major purpose of the Michigan Women's Foundation is to give women a way to use their own financial power to help all women -- and girls -- develop financial power. Think of it as a really good investment. We do.
Q: Who is this "we" you keep talking about?
A: That's maybe the best part. "We" is not an elite group trying to make your decisions for you. "We" are women -- and good men, as well -- from all over Michigan who contribute to MWF's work. "We" are women who advise on projects, raise money and help decide where it goes. "We" is a new voice in the world of donors, a voice that speaks for women and girls. "We" is you.
dd>---Corretta Scott King, Civil Rights Activist
Equal Employment Officer,
Michigan Department of Corrections
Hilda Patricia Curran,
Michigan Department of Labor
Teresa S. Decker,
Varnum,Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett
Judith C. Frey,
President, The Issue Network Group,
Executive Director, Dyer-Ives Foundation
Pearl M. Holforty, C.P.A.,
CEO, Liberty BIDCO
Mildred M. Jeffrey,
Board of Governors,
Wayne State University (Emerita)
President, The WW Group Inc.
Helen W. Milliken,
Community Leader and Activist
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.,
Chief Physician, Ford Motor Company (retired)
State Senator, 18th District
Henry Ford Health Care Corporation
Mary Jo Pulte,
Owner, The Lodge at Yarrow
Maureen P. Reilly,
Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals
Tessie Baltrip Sharp,
Assistant to the Provost, Wayne State University
Marylin H. Steele, Ph.D.,
C.S. Mott Foundation (retired)
Jane R. Thomas, Ph.D.,
School of Medicine - Wayne State University
Deborah B. Frederick,