A group of Tyler area high school girls are learning a bit about fundraising and donating through a new organization of The Women’s Fund.
The Women’s Fund is a giving circle in which members come together and pool their philanthropic dollars.
In five years, the organization has given more than $500,000 to 16 nonprofits in Smith County.
“It’s big fun,” Betsy Brush Hahn, coordinator of The Women’s Fund, said. “Really, it’s amazing to see these amazing generous women just doing this, it’s great.”
But last year, the women decided to expand their reach.
When some of the organization’s members went to a conference in Austin and heard about girls giving grants, they decided they wanted to teach girls in this community to give back.
In October, they contacted several of the Tyler high schools and five of the schools sent five girls to attend a focus group.
During that meeting, representatives from The Women’s Fund told the girls, all high school juniors or seniors, their plan.
“We’d like to teach you guys how we give grants,” Ms. Hahn said of their message at the time.
Twenty-seven young women came to the focus group and 25 of them committed to participate in the initiative, which is called GIVE.
So far the students have planned two fundraisers, a family movie night and a pancake supper. The movie night happened Saturday, and the pancake supper is set for next month.
Whatever funds the girls raise, The Women’s Fund will match, Ms. Hahn said. With those funds, the girls like their adult counterparts will decide which nonprofit organizations to contribute to.
They’ve already chosen five nonprofit agencies they would like to hear from, and once they do, they will determine which ones to contribute to.
“So they’re in the process of learning grant making and I think they’re already pretty darn good little fundraisers …” Ms. Hahn said. “I think it’s the heart of women in our organization to pass on a legacy of generosity and caring for others in the community. … That’s really what they would like to do.”
All Saints Episcopal School junior Emily Hegwood, 16, of Tyler, is among the young women who are a part of GIVE. Miss Hegwood said she really liked the idea of people coming together for something greater than they could do alone.
“I think that it brings attention to issues, and it’s kind of an example for what people can do when they come together,” she said.
She said she has learned fundraising requires a lot more planning and work than she thought.
Robert E. Lee High School senior Daisy Antunez, 18, said she wanted to become involved in the organization because it gives her an opportunity to help others.
Ms. Hahn said the plan is to continue the initiative each school year with junior and senior girls from Smith County. Anyone who fits this description is welcome to participate.
The intention is to give the students community service hours for their participation, Ms. Hahn said. The Women’s Fund is a nonprofit organization.
“We hope it just grows by leaps and bounds (and) that this is a way that young people, particularly young women, can learn to serve in our community,” Ms. Hahn said.
The plan is for GIVE to have a grant award celebration in April.
For information about GIVE, visit www.womensfundsc.org and click on the About Us tab followed by Our Committees.