“We’re in a movement, not a moment.” 
Megan Rapinoe, U.S. National Soccer Team

That is exactly how we feel at the Vermont Women's Fund!

We started out 2019 by inviting men to the table to examine their role and responsibilities in supporting women in the post-#MeToo culture. The audience included Governor Phil Scott, his cabinet and staff, the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, CEOs, managers, and 400 more people, the majority of whom identified as male. 

This game-changer event (co-hosted by Change The Story and a committee of male allies) represented a new avenue for the Women's Fund; engaging men in the conversation about how we make positive change for women and advance gender equity. The "movement" Rapinoe refers to had begun.

From there, things snowballed. A film screening of A Fine Line, a documentary about women in the food industry, rallied hundreds of Vermont’s restaurant owners, waitstaff, chefs, and food distributors in support of advancing gender equity among their ranks. 

At our blockbuster 25th anniversary celebration in October, we brought Pulitzer-prize winning journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the co-authors of She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement.

And to end this incredible year, the Burlington High School girls varsity soccer team, with help from Change The Story, changed their own lives by modeling their #EqualPay heroes, the World Cup-winning, U.S. National Soccer Team. This story, which went viral in mid-October, has a unique and wonderful twist that brings it all back home. You can read about it below.

We are grateful and honored to be standing at the forefront of this movement in Vermont, acknowledging the 25 years of work that has led us to where w e are today. And our mission to advance philanthropy is as important as ever. It is the economic lever to push culture change forward to achieve our goals. Most of all, we are humbled by the generosity of all of you - our supporters, sponsors, and donors. Our success is a reflection of you and your belief in our work. 

For now, let's enjoy the moment together. I wish you happy holidays among family and friends and peace on earth.

With cheer,
Meg Smith, Director
Vermont Women's Fund
Heading From the Soccer Field to the Giving Field
This story keeps going and growing! It began in the summer when the BHS girls soccer team wanted to take action on the equal pay issue - inspired by their role models on the U.S. National team. They looked to Change The Story for data about equal pay in Vermont and shared their idea to create #EqualPay jerseys to fund access for more girls to play soccer. In one of the final games, “excessive celebration” turned into international media attention including this month’s mentions in year-end editions of Sports Illustrated and Time.

The girls have been articulate spokespersons on behalf of #EqualPay, and as a result, the sale of #EqualPay jerseys exploded far beyond anyone’s imagination. Volunteer parents and students have been fulfilling orders since mid-October, amassing an unexpected windfall of over $100,000. This money is now going to a dedicated fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, called the #EqualPay Fund.

Come the New Year, the soccer girls will learn about the practice of philanthropy with guidance from the Vermont Women’s Fund to broaden their advocacy and impact. They intend to support efforts to promote equal pay as well as after-school athletic programs for girls in the region. 

To catch-up on all of the press, check the news page on the CTS website.
Photo courtesy of Brian MacDonald
Inclusive Equal Rights Amendment for Vermont
The 4-year process to add an Inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to the Vermont Constitution is underway and needs your help! The process began in 2018 with many familiar faces to the Women’s Fund: Senator Ginny Lyons, Melinda Moulton of Main Street Landing, attorney Michelle Farkas, the League of Women Voters, and the Vermont Commission on Women.

At bit of history to this update… In 2018, the Vermont senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment resolution (S.11) to start the process. Senate bill PR.4, the provision to add an amendment to the constitution, was introduced in 2019 and is now waiting for the Senate Judiciary Committee to return in January. If each step moves on schedule, Vermonters will vote on the amendment in 2023.

The most persistent question is, “Why do we need this?” Michelle Farkas, a partner at Gravel & Shea, was part of the team who wrote the 2018 resolution and researched laws in 50 states – of which 24 have ERA amendments. “An amendment is an explicit statement for equal protections under the law. It is a strong declaration about the principles that we care about and shows that we believe in equality,” she explained.

Michelle told us that the genesis of this movement is also a response to the rise of hate crimes and offensive behavior in our state. “This amendment puts in place a statement for Vermont that this isn’t acceptable. This isn’t who we are.”

Want to help? We encourage you show your support by contacting the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee.

You can also read more about the amendment process on the League of Women Voters Vermont website and read about Michelle’s work on the Gravel & Shea website.
Marathon for Equal Pay
From the moment Jennifer Sewell in New York City learned about the BHS soccer team's #EqualPay campaign from her brother in Maine, she felt compelled to do something to help.

“It was one week before I was to run the New York City Marathon for the first time. I should have been worrying about getting enough sleep and hydration. But instead, I reached out to Change The Story, launched a GoFundMe campaign for #EqualPay, and was up late contacting friends from all my networks. It was fun to support this movement and Change The Story. I was also excited to learn about the incredible work Change The Story is doing beyond this #EqualPay initiative.”

Jennifer wore that #EqualPay jersey on November 3 rd for the 26.2 miles that covers all five boroughs of New York. If she worried that her energy might lag, the crowd made up for it. “On almost every single corner in every single borough, people saw my shirt and started screaming, ‘Equal Pay!’ The spectators’ reaction was remarkable and unexpected – they were going crazy for #EqualPay! By mile 16, my body was really starting to feel those end-of-course hills, but I was riding on the support from fans. That’s what carried me through to the finish in Central Park.”

Thanks to Jennifer and her network, she raised $2,625 for Change The Story. She said, “I’ve never launched any sort of fundraiser before, but when you see younger women and girls speaking up like the BHS girls’ team did – it creates a ripple effect – and motivated me to do something in my corner of the world. We’re all out here inspired by women of all ages pushing towards equity – and saying yes, let’s keep the movement going!”

Join Jennifer in supporting the Vermont Women’s Fund work for gender equity for our state’s women and girls. Make a gift before the end of the year.
“When you see younger women and girls speaking up like the BHS girls’ team did – it creates a ripple effect – and motivated me to do something in my corner of the world. We’re all out here inspired by women of all ages pushing towards equity – and saying yes, let’s keep the movement going!”
~ Jennifer Sewell
Hot off the press: Change The Story Report Launch
It’s been almost three years since Change The Story released their conclusive data reports on the economic status of women. This week, the latest report launched to a packed house in Barre. Tiff Bluemle presented highlights of the report which includes expanded data about women with disabilities, women of color, intimate partner violence, student loan debt, unionization, and the pink tax.

The question isn’t whether addressing these issues will benefit Vermont’s women, and their families, and fuel economic growth. They will. The question is whether we have the resolve to respond to the challenges outlined in this report with creativity, courage, and eyes fixed firmly on the future.
It’s up to us.

The launch included a panel discussion with stories from Capstone Community Action participants and a career specialist from Vermont Works for Women. Find the full report and more resources on the Change The Story website. Direct download is here.

We will follow up with more results on the Vermont Women's Fund website as well. Stay tuned!
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