- 2012 - November - 1st -

Women’s Giving Alliance tops $3.3 million in grant-making

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The Women’s Giving Alliance approved four grants Wednesday totaling $316,656 to support mental health assistance for women and girls in Northeast Florida.

Since the alliance was established in 2001, it has awarded more than $3.3 million in grants to more than 30 nonprofits to improve the lives of women and girls in Northeast Florida.

“For far too long, behavioral health and mental illness has been a stigma,” said keynote speaker Delores Barr Weaver, a former owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and one of the five founders of the alliance.

It was the first year grants topped $300,000 and were made for a two-year period.

The alliance held its annual meeting at the University of North Florida University Center.

Grants announced Wednesday were made to:

• PACE Center for Girls, $115,000, to integrate and expand mental health access at the center with a pilot program to meet needs for specialized counseling and therapeutic health services for an additional 25 girls. PACE provides a nonresidential delinquency prevention program for girls ages 12-18.

• Women’s Center of Jacksonville, $100,000, to expand no-cost counseling services to an additional 130 women in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties, doubling the number of low-income women receiving no-cost therapy. Each has an initial assessment followed by 10-20 counseling sessions.

• Sulzbacher Center, $91,656, to expand mental health services for women and girl residents with support from an intensive mental health case manager, who will provide on-site crisis management and links to community services. Homeless women have a disproportionately high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, and about 50 percent have experienced major depression since becoming homeless.

• Volunteers in Medicine, $10,000, to support the cost of offering women a complete clinical appointment with a licensed mental health professional at no cost to the patient. An additional 133 women will be served. Volunteers in Medicine provides free primary health care to qualified low-income, working, uninsured people in the Jacksonville area. Medical professionals volunteer their services.

Grants Committee Chair Peg Schiffers said the 2012 Women’s Giving Alliance research project, “Stronger Voices … Better Lives,” included a focus on mental health and well-being.

The report found Florida is the fourth largest state and ranks No. 49 in per capita spending on adult mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Further, Northeast Florida receives the lowest per capita mental health resources in the state, it found.

Schiffers said 27 nonprofits responded to the alliance’s request for proposals, which was a new approach, for the grants.

Of those, 15 were from agencies that had not approached the alliance before.

The requests totaled $1.8 million, including eight for more than $100,000. Also, 11 requests were to fund staff.

The alliance is an initiative of The Community Foundation in Jacksonville and has 274 members who give $1,500 a year or more.

Of that, $1,000 becomes part of the pool for annual grants, $350 is directed to the Women’s Endowment for perpetual giving and $150 provides operating support.

Susan Schantz, the president for the two-year term of 2011-12, said membership is 20 percent higher than 2010 and 53 members are new.

Julia Taylor will serve as the 2013-14 president.

In September, Delores and Wayne Weaver, who sold the Jaguars in January to businessman Shad Khan, converted their Weaver Family Foundation into a $23.7 million advised fund at The Community Foundation.

The foundation said at the time that the $23.7 million gift was the second largest single donation in its 28-year history and, combined with a $21 million donation in June 2007, the Weavers are the largest donors ever to the organization.

The foundation said the move frees the Weavers of responsibilities associated with the foundation, such as reviewing grants, and allows them more opportunities to enjoy their philanthropy. They will serve as advisers of the fund, which will be called the Weaver Family Foundation Fund.

In that capacity, they will recommend grants to be made from the fund based on their philanthropic interests. The fund will not accept unsolicited proposals.

The Weaver Family Foundation typically awarded $1 million in grants a year, with almost all the funds provided to Northeast Florida organizations, including those that benefit girls, women and seniors, among others, according to the September news release.

The Community Foundation is the oldest such foundation and benefits nonprofit organizations through charitable gifts and grants, according to its website. The September news release said the foundation has $164 million in assets, manages 392 charitable funds and last year awarded 1,359 grants valued at $14.6 million.

Delores Weaver said Wednesday the alliance is a good way for women to step into independent giving.

“We are not equal,” she told the audience of more than 200, predominantly women.

She shared the story about her arrival in Jacksonville about 20 years ago, when the Weavers brought the new Jaguars franchise to town, and contracting for construction work on her home.

She said she contracted for the work, monitored the progress and was on-site.

“And the invoice came right on time and it was sent to my husband,” she said.

Weaver returned the invoice with a note. “Send me the invoice and I will promptly send you my personal check.” And she did.

She said she had to do the same on another occasion.

Khan paid a reported $770 million for the Jaguars when he bought the National Football League franchise from the Weavers and their other partners.

Weaver said she is one of the alliance’s 10 “legacy members,” meaning she made a $25,000 gift to the Women’s Endowment Fund, which ensures lifelong membership and perpetual support for the alliance.

She encouraged others to do the same, if and when they can.

“I hear, ‘it must be nice to write checks,’” Weaver said.

“Giving away money thoughtfully and strategically is hard work,” she said.

She said they consider what the money can accomplish and seek opportunities and value. She said challenge grants, which require a recipient to raise a matching or other associated amount, “are an opportunity.”

“I often require a portion of challenge grants be made by small contributions,” she said, explaining that when contributors are asked to donate, they should be told that whatever they can afford to donate will make a difference.

Those donors might evolve into large contributors someday, she said.

Weaver along with Courtenay Wilson, Helen Lane and the late Doris Carson and Ann M. Baker were the five founders of the alliance.

Its mission is “to inspire the women of Northeast Florida to be strategic philanthropists and to improve the lives of women and girls through collective giving.”

For more information about the alliance, visit www.womensgivingalliance.org.




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