The more than three hundred Michigan women's and girls' nonprofits change lives. They shelter and counsel survivors of domestic violence. They house homeless women and children. They help women combat chemical dependency. They counsel at-risk girls. They provide the resources so that women can succeed. They help women find employment in non-traditional careers. While doing these life-saving tasks, they often run their organizations in an inclusive manner -- with equal power distribution, a diverse staff, open communication, and shared tasks.
However, these processes often are time-consuming and difficult to implement successfully. The end result is lack of time to influence community priorities, lessening each organization's ability to create social change. In an effort to help strengthen women's and girls' nonprofits, the University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women, in partnership with the Michigan Women's Foundation, is initiating the Michigan Women's Leadership Project, "Leadership for Social Change." This project addresses issues women's and girl's organizations commonly face through a year-long process of group forums and on-site consultation.
The Project is designed to strengthen nonprofit organizations, increase the influence they have in their communities, enhance the leadership and management skills of staff and Boards, and build strong networks of leaders. Susan Church, Executive Director of the Michigan Women's Foundation, states: "Many women's and girls' nonprofits are so bogged down by providing direct service and managing he organization that they have little time to work for changing the system that has created the very problems they are addressing. Often this leads to a general feeling of providing band-aid solutions. We hope to help these organizations create social change through increasing their resources." Three weekend seminars will foster interactive group learning, addressing common issues and concerns. Pooling resources and building supportive networks will also help foster interaction between participants. Ongoing evaluation will provide feedback for future program planning. On-site consultation will help develop strategies to enable organizations to improve their problem-solving processes.
Deborah Felder-Smith, MSW, Executive Director of the Women's Resource Center of Livingston County states: "I am extremely excited to participate in the Michigan Women's Leadership Project. Leading a women's organization is much different than leading any other agency. Being able to position the organization positively within the community is vital. Women's organizations do wonderful work -- most often on shoe string budgets and with little understanding from the community of the need for women's programs. The ability to be a solid, recognizable and respected force within the community is imperative, not only for providing quality services to women, but to bring about positive changes for women."
Funded in part by the Nokomis and Frey Foundations, this three-year project will produce a model for nation-wide replication. Fifteen organizations from across the state will participate in the first year's program. Serving a wide variety of groups, these participants, along with program faculty and consultants, will work toward making their organizations healthier so that they can change lives and change society.
Five extraordinary Michigan women from the world of athletics and physical fitness were honored this spring at MWF's 1993 benefit dinners in Grand Rapids and Dearborn.
The galas which attracted more than 500 people celebrated the accomplishments of Merrily Dean Baker, Athletic Director, Michigan State University; Kathy Fisher, award-winning athlete and coach for athletes with disabilities; Brenda Gatlin, Assistant Principal at Detroit's Cass Technical High School, who has coached several high school basketball teams (boys' and girls') to championships; Dolly Niemic Konwinski, whose career with the All American Girls Basketball League was one of the inspirations of the hit movie A League of Their Own; and Myrna Partrich, co-owner of the Workout Company and nationally recognized fitness authority.
Benefit co-chairs Jean Hitchcock and Kathy Vruggink Westdorp (Grand Rapids) and Mildred Jeffrey, Florine Mark and Tessie Sharp (Dearborn) led volunteer committees whose work netted over $75,000 for the work of the Foundation.
They also helped to turn the spotlight on an area -- athletics -- where women and girls are doing great things, often without recognition or reward. This year's galas were an impressive reminder of what women and girls can contribute in every arena.
Our sincere thanks to the over 800 individuals and organizations who made generous contributions to the work of the Foundation during the year ending 9/30/93. Due to the length of the list, this article was omitted from this online newsletter.
In recent months, two donors to the work of the Michigan Women's Foundation have chosen to invest in the future of women and girls in different -- but equally special -- ways.
In July, a longtime supporter of MWF's work made a gift of $5,000. Its special purpose is to underwrite one of MWF's 1994 grants. That grant will be selected by the donor from the list of projects approved for support by MWF's Board of Trustees. According to the donor, who prefers not to be named, the grant chosen will be one that focuses on women's economic self-sufficiency which she views as the key to equality. Her generous gift is a vivid example of the kind of proactive philanthropy by and for women the MWF hopes to encourage throughout the state.
At about the same time, another woman in a different part of the state read a profile in the Detroit Free Press of MWF's founder Mary Jo Pulte. Inspired by Pulte's example of using her wealth to help bring about real change for women and girls, this donor made a decision to create by bequest a $100,000 fund that will provide scholarship and grant support to students, especially women of color and lesbian women, to assist with their educational needs. In conversations with the Foundation about her planned gift, she expressed her pleasure that the trust could be created to reflect her concerns for two especially disenfranchised populations.
Women from many backgrounds are deciding that they want to use their resources to make a difference for women and girls. The power of the Michigan Women's Foundation is that it provides the opportunity to make that investment in partnership with many other like-minded people.
The Michigan Women's Foundation is designed to offer flexibility and participation in deciding the use of your gift. Consider the following options, all of which will help to expand opportunities for women and girls:
(Special Purpose Funds and Donor Advised Funds may also be named if the donor chooses.)
MWF accepts donations by check, VISA and Mastercard, as well as gifts of appreciated property such as stocks or real estate. We welcome your support. Please call Executive Director Susan Church at (517)374-7270 if you would like further information about your options as a donor.
An apprentice looked in horror at the beam, high above the ground, that she had been asked to cross to fetch a piece of equipment. She thought of the many years she had spent to prepare for this point in her life -- almost ready to complete her apprenticeship training and become a certified journeyman. She was not about to let her labors end on the command of her supervisor who asked her to do this death-defying stunt. "Too dangerous!" she said. "I'll fail you!" he replied.
"An unusual experience," you might say. "Not for the few women who work in the skilled trades" would be the reply from The Upper Peninsula Women's and Minorities Institute of the Women's Center, one of the MWF's most exciting grant projects form 1992-93. With classroom training, physical conditioning, self-defense training and support network building, they help women develop the skills, physical strength and confidence necessary to successfully compete in the non-traditional job market.
This program goes against the odds. In the skilled trades, 10 men are employed for every woman. Why? Many feel that women cannot physically handle the work. Women are not made aware of all the of the life choices, for instance, not knowing that entering into the skilled trades is an option. Other barriers for women are the restricted dissemination of information, fees for applying for apprenticeship training, and illegitimate and unrealistic requirements or criteria.
If women do pursue such a career, many (91%) experience sexual harassment on the job, they find inadequate toilet facilities, they experience hostility and resentment and they are expected to perform tasks without necessary training. In addition, women are isolated from each other on job sites, they are not taken seriously and sabotage of equipment, tools and other materials is common. All of these barriers effectively exclude women from entering into trades as plumbers, carpenters, builders, industrial workers and the like.
However, the skilled trades can offer women higher wages, better fringe benefits, a wider variety of work schedules, greater job security and more opportunities for advancement. In addition, a large percentage of employment opportunities in the Upper Peninsula (17%) are in the skilled trades.
This is why the Institute is committed to expanding the range of employment opportunities for women and people of color in non-traditional occupations (defined by the Department of Labor as any occupation where a group occupies less than 25% of the jobs.) The program has been successful in attracting the diverse support because of its win-win combination. Women and people of color win by securing jobs that pay well. Apprenticeship sponsors win by gaining committed, qualified applicants who help them meet affirmative action plans and diversify their workforce. The Institute has been successful in gaining support from many sectors which do not often work together -- business, labor, public schools, local colleges, training and service institutes and government agencies.
Devised as a program which mimics apprenticeship with its eight-hour term, the Institute's multi-faceted approach began it's first semester on October 4. This model of pre-apprenticeship training enhances the basic skills of women and people of color and provides necessary information and support for securing and maintaining apprenticeships and pre=-apprenticeship training.
For more information about the Institute, contact The Women's Center at 1310 South Front Street, Marquette, Michigan 49855, (906) 225-1346.
MWF welcomes our newest staff member Barbara Vicory, MSW, MUP, Project Director. Vicory brings a diverse educational background and experience to her new position. Graduating from Smith College in 1988 with a degree in Mathematics, she travelled to Michigan where she was the first student to complete dual Masters degrees in Social Work, majoring in Community Organizing, and Urban Planning, concentrating on Housing and Community Development.
Vicory's experience includes working with the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development in a field office in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she compiled and disseminated resource material needed for community problem solving, tracked down absentee landlords and worked with neighborhood residents to help them report crack houses. She worked with non-profits in Southwestern Detroit to help facilitate long-range, intra-organizational planning for present and future problems which face the area, and with a nonprofit in Southeast Detroit to develop a strategy to help save the neighborhood from complete demolition. Working with the University of Michigan's Housing Law Reform Project, she coordinated a proposal which analyzed current eligibility policies of family housing in other universities and compiled recommendations for making U-M's own Family Housing eligibility requirements more inclusive. She also brings hands-on fund raising, planning and programming experience she gained as a fund developer for a nonprofit women's organization in Southeast Detroit.
She states: "I look forward to helping to facilitate the processes of women's and girls' nonprofit. It's also a new challenge for me to help guide new funding toward women's and girls's organizations through working within philanthropic communities. I'm excited to work toward reaching the goals of MWF and to work with our participants in furthering the status of women and girls in Michigan."
Bobbie S. Butler,
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<, Social/Political Activist
Linda M. Gobler, President, Michigan Grocerss Association
Beth Goebel, Executive Director, Dyer-Ives Foundation
Pearl M. Holforty, C.P.A., CEO, Liberty BIDCO
Mildred M. Jeffrey, Board of Governors, Wayne State University (Emerita)
Florine Mark, President, The WW Group Inc.
Helen W. Milliken, Community Leader and Activist
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D., Chief Physician, Ford Motor Company (retired)
Lana Pollak, State Senator, 18th District
Tish Preston, Senior Associate, 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
Barbara Vicory, Project Director
Jennifer McGuigan Babcock, Adminsitrative Assistant