$75,000 In Grants Awarded to Serve Women in East Tennessee

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The Women's Fund of East Tennessee announces their first grants.

The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee is excited to start putting our mission into direct action in our East Tennessee region

The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee announces their first grants while continuing on the path to a fully funded endowment. At a sold-out lunch event of more than 300 attendees, two grants totaling $75,000 were awarded to the focus areas of Education and Work Related Skills and/or Life Skills.

The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee serves as a catalyst to transform the lives of low-income women and girls in East Tennessee. Founded in February 2011, the organization has raised nearly two million dollars toward an endowment to serve 25 counties.

“The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee is excited to start putting our mission into direct action in our East Tennessee region,” says Mary Ellen Brewington, chair of the Women’s Fund Advisory Board. “The programs receiving grants today exemplify the impact we intend to make on an ongoing basis.”

The SISTERS of the Rainbow program acts as an intensive outpatient alcohol and co-occurring treatment program for adult women. Operated by the Helen Ross McNabb Center, the goal of this program is to break the cycle of addiction, welfare and poverty while promoting independence.

The program currently addresses many life, education and work-related skills. This expansion will provide additional support for program participants in their attainment of long-term employment and self-sufficiency. $15,000 is being awarded by the Women’s Fund to this program today.

“This grant will allow our program to provide an ongoing support system for women as they have challenges and bumps in the road,” says Melodie Daniels, coordinator of the SISTERS of the Rainbow program. “We are pleased to have this opportunity to make lasting changes for women in our program.”

The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) serves Appalachian women through programs in Berea, Kentucky, Bluefield College (Bluefield, VA) and Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk, NC). NOSW empowers women with overwhelming hardships to achieve greater self-sufficiency to overcome the barriers of poverty, limited opportunities for education and employment, and the debilitating impact of domestic violence.

The grant funds of $60,000 being awarded today by the Women’s Fund will support the costs of establishing an East Tennessee program at Maryville College (Maryville, TN). It is anticipated the first participants will begin in the summer of 2014.

“We are so excited to have this opportunity to expand our reach into East Tennessee,” says Jane Stephenson, founder of NOSW. “I am excited to expand our services to help more women in Appalachia become employed and receive more education and training.”

Today’s luncheon also included a video about each of the two grant recipients, an emotional story of perseverance and a keynote address by Ali Wentworth, performer, TV star and author of Ali in Wonderland.

Transformational Grant-making
Researchers from UT Knoxville and ETSU, spent more than a year identifying barriers to self-sufficiency for women and girls in East Tennessee. The research results identified the following areas of need: Education and Work Related Skills, Life Skills, Domestic Violence, Physical or Mental Illness, and Transportation.

It became clear that issues preventing many low-income women from achieving self-sufficiency are complex and interwoven. Ultimately, the Women’s Fund sought exemplary programs to fund Life Skills and Education, and Work Related Skills.

An application process was initiated that included site visits and an in-depth analysis of the program and its accomplishments in serving women to date. Key donors and leaders of the Women’s Fund provided input on those programs most closely aligned with the criteria for this first year’s grants.

The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee does plan to provide grants on an annual basis. It is anticipated that the next round of opportunities will be initiated this fall for awards in the spring of 2014.

About Women’s Fund of East Tennessee:
The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee serves as a catalyst to transform the lives of low-income women and girls in East Tennessee. It is a fund of the East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) and benefits from the financial stability of ETF. http://www.easttennesseefoundation.org/womens_fund_of_east_tennessee.aspx

About East Tennessee Foundation:
East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is a public, nonprofit, community foundation created by and for the people of East Tennessee, where many donors join together to make the region they love a better place, today and for future generations. A wide variety of assets can be accepted to serve almost any charitable purpose. ETF is a collection of hundreds of individual charitable funds and supporting foundations established by individuals, families, businesses and other nonprofits and foundations.

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Cheryl Ball
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