Who said things slow down in the winter? Brace yourselves, the momentum of events and activities coming up requires some serious calendaring! I highlighted a select few and remind you that the Vermont Commission on Women’s Events Calendar is a great resource for finding out what's happening for women all over the state from mentor training programs to business growth workshops to film festivals. Please add your own event to the calendar so we can keep each other informed this year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

While you have your calendar handy, SAVE THE DATE: May 7, 2020 will be the Vermont Women's Fund's annual celebration. Women athletes and the #EqualPay movement are spotlighted, including our own Burlington High School Girls Varsity Soccer team. Stay tuned for the announcement of our special guest speaker very soon!

Despite the whirl of events and activities, I hope each of us can slow down for a moment to feel a sense of gratitude for what we have. As a philanthropic organization, I see how giving to others expands us in inexplicable ways. It creates positive ripples across the universe that strengthens our communities and the connections among one another.

Be well,
Meg Smith, Director
Vermont Women's Fund
ElevateHer: Montpelier Women Gather for Insight & Strength
Put a group of women in a room and anything can happen! This year, the Women’s Fund is supporting ElevateHer, a professional networking group in Montpelier that gathers women together to encourage economic security and career success. The kick-off for 2020 was a Financial Planning Reboot featuring Priscilla Gilbert, CFP, President of CenterPoint Financial.

The room was filled with professional women ranging in age from 20s to 60+ and Priscilla provided sound advice for each and every stage of life. Some of her advice was startling, such as the considerable tax implications of loan forgiveness programs (yes, they might be considered taxable income and impact insurance, child-care, and other benefits). She also offered encouraging advice, such as 8% increases to Social Security payments for every year over 70 that you work (up to the cap, of course). Her entire presentation was packed with concrete, actionable advice.

The Q&A that followed Priscilla’s talk reminded us of the pressing concerns and realities that Vermont women are grappling with: student loans and personal debt, caring for young children and elder family members, preparing for life’s emergencies, and building a secure financial position. Priscilla’s “big insightful thought” for everyone to carry with them was:

“You should do well at making money and holding on it.”

ElevateHer will meet again on March 11 th to discuss legislative initiatives effecting women in Vermont. As soon as details are available, we will share them on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
“It’s within our power to get on top of our finances.”
~Erica Hare, organizer of
ElevateHer Montpelier
"Grit and Grace: Women at Work"
Alison Wright exhibit at Brattleboro Museum
We are proud to announce a new collaboration with the Brattleboro Museum of Art that will showcase women’s resilience through the documentary photography of Alison Wright, National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year and award-winning photojournalist. Our goal is to honor women’s work across the globe, while highlighting how women’s work contributes to Vermont’s communities and the economy. We will use Change The Story’s new report to help tell the story of women at work in Vermont.  

The exhibit opens on March 14th and runs until mid-June. As described by the Museum’s curator, Katherine Gass Stowe:
“Wright’s vivid portraits illuminate a shared determination among women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East to create better futures through creativity, ingenuity, and drive....because empowering women benefits not only the individuals and their families, but their villages, their nations, and our world."

The Women's Fund will be at the March 14 opening to greet Alison and hear her speak about her global career and personal experiences that include a 20-year friendship with the Dalai Lama. She will give a more in-depth artist talk at Next Stage in Putney that same evening along with a presentation from the Women's Fund (tickets required).

Join us for the evening!
March 14, 2020

Exhibit opening: 3-5 pm
Brattleboro Museum of Art

Artist talk: 7:30 pm
Next Stage Arts Project, Putney
Courtesy photo: Alison Wright
Grantee Story: Capstone's Family Literacy Center
The Family Literacy Center in Barre solves a serious problem for young single moms who lack a basic building block for economic success: a high school diploma. Thanks to this program offered by Capstone, family members get an education under one roof with parent classes on one floor and high-quality, Head Start daycare program for their children one floor below. The Women’s Fund chose this program as one of our grantees because it offers more than just a diploma; it’s a chance for young women to start anew and begin to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

Financial empowerment is a unifying theme in many Capstone programs reaching central Vermonters from several counties. Sue Minter, Executive Director, gave me a tour of the Family Literacy Center and the Community Kitchen Academy, a program run in conjunction with the Vermont Foodbank. Underemployed and unemployed Vermonters receive an intensive 12-week training program to enter the food services industry. They also learn essential skills to excel in any workplace, such as resume writing, interviewing, budgeting, and conflict resolution. It’s a substantial step forward into a promising career.

We encourage all of our readers to learn more about our grantees and to support them with your own giving as well!

P.S. Don't forget about employee-matching giving programs. They are an effortless way to double your donations!
Women's Fund Director Meg Smith (right) toured Capstone's Community Kitchen Academy with Executive Director Sue Minter (left) and Chef Joey Buttendorf.
Workplaces for All
Vermont Commission on Women launched a new resource for employers, employees, and all Vermonters called Workplaces for All. In conjunction with the Vermont Attorney General’s office and the Vermont Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Women consolidated information about laws related to and best practices for preventing sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. 

It is exciting to see that we have ONE resource that covers all forms of discrimination and harassment. Check it out!

This is a lot to take in at once and we will share pieces regularly on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages and newsletters. To begin, we’ll share the page about being an advocate and supporting people who have experienced harassment and discrimination. This page includes a long list of resources to report incidents and to find professional help to manage stress, anxiety, and relief from abuse.
Upcoming Events
Spring is only 40 days away! Meanwhile, we and our partners at the Vermont Commission on Women, Change The Story, and Vermont Works for Women are planning events to celebrate the Suffrage Centennial, International Women’s Day, and Women’s History month. Here are just a few events on tap.

March 4: Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Waitsfield
In honor of Women’s History Month, Lawson’s Finest Liquids chose the Vermont Women’s Fund as their Sunshine Fund beneficary. Join us for a pint and a toast on March 4 th from 5 to 7:30 pm to kick off the month-long opportunity to support women and girls every time you leave a tip.

Directions to Lawson's Taproom, 155 Carroll Road, Waitsfield

March 6 & March 26: LunaFest
Vermont Works for Women presents LUNAFEST, a traveling film festival of award-winning short films by, for and about women. All proceeds from these events benefit Vermont Works for Women.
March 6: Burlington: 5:30 pm reception, 7 pm films
Mach 26: Montpelier: screenings at 6 pm & 7 pm

Tickets & details for all events are on their website.

March 19: Lead the Way on Equal Pay, Randolph
The Vermont Commission on Women hosts a morning for new and standing signers of the Equal Pay Compact to discuss the state of women in Vermont workplaces. Tiff Bluemle will present the latest data on pay inequity from Change The Story. Attendees will have time to network with others committed to improving the economic security of women. More details and registration are here.

Vermont Suffrage Alliance Events, Statewide
There are far too many events to pick just one from the Vermont Suffrage Alliance. Historians, activists, and artists are featured at events across the state. A highlight list is here or you may find more on their website.
Want more events with the incredible women of Vermont?
Visit the Vermont Commission on Women’s Event Calendar for more.
Persist 5k
Mother's Day, May 10, 2020
The Persisters are at it again with the 4 th Annual event to celebrate women and benefit the Women’s Fund. The spirit of the Women’s March lives on through this fun, multi-generational event. Skida is creating another signature headband for registrants along with the support of many local sponsors. Registration is open now and you can save 50% through Valentine's Day weekend by using the code P5KLOVE50. More details about the course and festivities are here.
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