Women’s Giving Circle Celebrates 10th Anniversary by Granting Record $100,000 in Awards
Posted on October 24, 2012
The Women’s Giving Circle, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has announced a record $100,000 in awards to eight campus and community programs. Since its creation in 2002, the Women’s Giving Circle has provided more than $600,000 in support to nearly 50 programs.
Ginger Beebe, first lady of Arkansas, made a special appearance to honor the group at its 10th anniversary event Thursday, Oct. 18. “You’ve created a legacy here that will be carried on for generations,” Beebe said. “From the vision of eight women and look at what they started. Knowing, if you pull your resources together, you can make an impact in so many lives.”
Established by founding members of the Women and Philanthropy Committee of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, the Women’s Giving Circle was created to raise a substantial pool of new money from women in support of deserving initiatives led by University of Arkansas faculty, staff and students while, at the same time, encouraging women as philanthropic leaders.
This year’s grant recipients were chosen from more than 40 proposals through an annual online vote and ‘voting event’ that includes Women’s Giving Circle members hearing presentations from the finalists. The amounts of the eight awards given out this year ranged from more than $20,000 to $7,000.
“This organization has given grants to every academic unit and the Division of Student Affairs for proposals that have touched thousands of lives in Arkansas and beyond,” Chancellor G. David Gearhart said. “These programs have included domestic violence prevention, literacy, breast cancer research, scholarship and fellowship support, the promotion of health and wellness, and other critical needs.”
The Women’s Giving Circle Food Recovery Information Project received $12,000 to create a legal guide to food donation to help businesses develop a plan to donate food safely. School of Law professor Susan Schneider will be involved in the creation of the legal guide.
Other programs that received awards this year include:
- Jeff Wolchok, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering received $20,100 to create an alternative method to treat urinary incontinence.
- Sha Jin, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering received $20,000 to research treating breast cancer patients with their own cells.
- University radio station KUAF was granted $15,000 to digitally preserve feature interviews conducted as a part of its Ozarks at Large program. The program archive will eventually be available on the KUAF website as well as at Mullins Library.
- The Volunteer Action Center Literacy Program received $9,728 to coordinate a student volunteer program that includes reading to elementary children targeted for additional tutoring.
- The No Woman Left Behind Campaign was granted $8,700 to expand its campus education efforts focused on sexual assault by using student volunteers.
- Michelle Gray, assistant professor of health, human performance and recreation in the College of Education and Health Professions accepted $7,400 to increase osteoporosis knowledge among campus students.
- Vijay K. Varadan, Distinguished Professor of neurosurgery, and Matthew Ganio, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the human performance laboratory, received $7,072 to test, implement and study the production of a ‘smart bra’ capable of wireless monitoring of heart rates and blood pressure with a smart phone.
- Members raised $50,000 this year and Chancellor Gearhart matched that amount with a $50,000 gift, doubling the organization’s impact to the campus and community in fiscal year 2013.
“I am extremely proud of the hard work by the Women’s Giving Circle that made this possible, and it’s a pleasure to match it,” Gearhart said.
Already looking ahead, Chancellor Gearhart made a surprise announcement, offering to match contributions up to $50,000 again next year if the Women’s Giving Circle can increase its membership to 100 by then. The group now counts 73 members.
“He certainly inspired us to add new members,” said Becky Brink, president of the Women’s Giving Circle. “I feel confident that our grants have made a huge impact on the faculty and staff who lead the programs and research, but more importantly our work has benefited countless lives across the state.”
The Women’s Giving Circle raises funds in part by requiring annual cash gifts from its members. The annual gift requirement is $1,000 for alumnae or friends and $500 for recent graduates, students, faculty and staff.
“Every year, my mom gives my sister and I annual memberships as our Christmas Presents,” said Melissa Werner, incoming president of the Women’s Giving Circle. “I enjoy being able to give back and be a part of the Women’s Giving Circle and effecting change by funding deserving, amazing projects at the U of A. Personally, reading and hearing about the proposals is the highlight of the process for me. And in the end, it’s extremely rewarding to see the effects and impact we have. We are difference makers.”
The founding members of the Women’s Giving Circle in 2002 were Pat Cooper, Mary Trimble Maier (B.A. 1949), Julia Peck Mobley (B.S.E. 1965), Harriett Phillips (B.A. 1972), Debbie Walker, Lynne Walton (B.A. 1970), Mary Lib White and Donna Axum Whitworth (B.A. 1966, M.A. 1969).