HOLIDAY 2021 - Page 46

STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
The Vermont Women ’ s Fund Council . From left : Celidh Galloway-Kane , Dennise Casey , Karin Chamberlain , Meg Smith , Missy Kraus , Leslie Halperin , Drusilla Roessle , and Joan Gamble
BARRIE FISHER , COURTESY THE VERMONT WOMEN ’ S FUND

Upward Momentum An inside look at the Vermont Women ’ s Fund ’ s empowering programs and initiatives

Ever since the Vermont Women ’ s Fund ( VWF ) was first established in 1994 , it has served as a critical resource for Vermont ’ s women and girls . VWF operates as a component fund of the Vermont Community Foundation . As the first philanthropic fund in the state dedicated exclusively to women ’ s issues , VWF has effected positive change in the lives of countless female Vermonters through a series of targeted grants and statewide strategic partnerships . VWF provides funding for a number of programs that offer crucial opportunities for women living in the Green Mountain State and empowers women to make a difference in their communities through charitable giving . Over the past several years , VWF has partnered with several other nonprofit organizations to create innovative new programs that advocate for the interests of Vermont ’ s female residents . By doing so , they have played a pivotal role in increasing statewide awareness about the continuing fight for gender equity .

According to VWF ’ s Director Meg Smith , VWF was founded at a time when a number of other women ’ s funds were being formed across the country . “ Women realized that they weren ’ t getting the funding to provide the necessary range of services and programs for women and girls from public policymakers or the private and nonprofit sectors . When VWF was founded , the original founders didn ’ t just want to raise money – they also wanted to raise awareness about female financial empowerment . They understood that in order to properly address the issues that were affecting female Vermonters , they had to encourage women to play an active part in the fundraising process . There was tremendous excitement around VWF in its early years , because that type of female-funded philanthropy had never been done before here in Vermont .”
Smith says that as VWF has continued to expand and grow its endowment , it has donated funds to an ever-increasing assortment of nonprofit organizations , programs , and incentives . VWF has been a longtime funder of a Burlington-based
44 VERMONT MAGAZINE