Greetings!

We are coming up on nearly two months since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives and jeopardized our sense of safety and welfare. While we try to make sense of this crisis and its long-term effects, the short-term reality is glaringly evident: the disproportionately negative effect on women.

The majority of essential workers in Vermont are women,
and while rightfully lauded as heroes in our communities,
their low wages are an insult to the value of their work.

This hardship goes beyond the healthcare and services fields – and does not incorporate other unsung heroes - like the full-time working moms now managing a job remotely while home-schooling their children.

This disparity is indicative of a much larger problem, one that is at the very heart of the Vermont Women’s Fund’s mission. We are working on systemic inequity with more intensity than ever but today, I want to describe the most recent actions the Vermont Women's Fund made to protect women and girls in Vermont.

Last week, the Women’s Fund granted $292,000 to nonprofits throughout Vermont. In the process, we had to pivot our grant process significantly in light of the pandemic. Read more on how we did an about-face to direct emergency funds to safeguard Vermont's women and girls with our 2020 grant-giving.

Please know that the Vermont Women’s Fund stands with you
as we navigate this storm and work together to
build a better future that is more equal and resilient for all.

We are so grateful to the women of Vermont working on the front lines of this pandemic, caring for the ill, the elderly, and a myriad of other essential jobs. We thank them and all other essential workers for all they are doing to keep us safe and well.  

Wishing you all peace and safety,
Meg
Meg Smith, Director

P.S. This is your fund. We exist because of you. The support we receive from you, our donors and sponsors, is what makes our work possible. For $5, $10, or $20 a month, you can create an equitable future for women and girls in Vermont. Please make an ongoing investment in Vermont's women and girls today.
Announcing the 2020 Grantees

We started out 2020 celebrating a banner year for grant-making for the Vermont Women’s Fund. The grant dollars available from our endowment and fundraising - $292,000 -marked a new record for the Women's Fund. The Women's Fund Council and I were excited to review applications submitted at the end of February. 

By mid-March, as the extent of the pandemic began to sink in,
it was clear we needed to rethink everything.

Calls to our partner nonprofits revealed stories that challenged my imagination: a domestic abuse shelter pivoting to deliver counseling services by telephone to rape victims instead of in person; the struggles of case managers to stay connected to their single-parent families in isolation; the toll on staff to maintain 24/7 coverage in a women’s residential program.
 
The enormity of the problems deepened with each conversation, yet I felt buoyed by the bravery and resiliency of the many dedicated staff and leaders. Then it struck me, what would happen if these very organizations themselves could not survive? I knew that the program applications we held in hand were no longer operative and we would have to revise our funding guidelines to focus on urgent needs, maintain viability of longtime partners, and push forward on systems change. 

We chose to give unrestricted funds, and
trust that our dollars will help women and girls in Vermont, directly or indirectly.   

We are proud to announce our 2020 grantees. We thank them for their dedication and nimbleness in continuing to deliver critical services that will ultimately help women and girls in Vermont rise and thrive:
 
I know I speak for everyone on the Vermont Women’s Fund council and staff, that it is truly humbling to be given the responsibility to provide funding to safeguard women and their families. What makes this even more significant is that these dollars come from supporters like you , who entrust the Vermont Women’s Fund and our council members to make the best decisions we can. Bearing witness to the experiences from our frontline service providers and knowing we have some ability to help, is truly an honor you bestowed on us.  
Endowment Update: Walk the Talk

We are pleased to announce a milestone in our overall mission of supporting women and girls. Beginning this year, a portion of our endowment funds will now be invested in the Pax Ellevate Global Leadership Fund .

This international mutual fund, founded by Sallie Krawcheck , a pioneer of Gender Lens Investing (GLI), invests in companies that value women’s leadership and advance gender equality. Simply put, this mutual fund invests in companies that invest in women .
GLI criteria range from the number of women on a company’s board of directors to hiring and retention practices to favorable family leave policies. GLI funds are competitive in the marketplace as many studies report the advantages of women in business leadership: greater innovation, high returns on capital, and higher employee satisfaction, among many other attributes.
The Women’s Fund’s mission is to invest in women in Vermont. With this change we have taken a significant, proactive step within our own organization. Our endowment now reflects our values and overall mission by investing in businesses that are serious about gender equity. We plan to increase our GLI funding incrementally over time. At present, the majority of the Women’s Fund endowment remains in the Vermont Community Foundation’s Socially Responsible Investing pool , (one that includes gender equality as part of a broader mix).
Thank you Lawson's!
To celebrate Women's History Month and Equal Pay, Lawson's Finest Liquids made the Women's Fund the beneficiary of their Sunshine Fund for the month of March. In lieu of tips, visitors to the taproom contribute to a charity each month. They raised....
$15,226.87

Cheers and thanks to Sean, Karen, Lawson's staff and patrons who supported our work!
And thanks to the friends who joined us on March 4th to kick-off the month. We look forward to seeing you in person soon!
(photo credit: Barrie Fisher)
Persist 2020 Canceled but Unstoppable
With heavy hearts, we share that the Persisters had to make the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 Persist 5K.

You may still PERSIST!
We would love to see you walk, run, bike, or make signs to show your spirit for the Women's March movement and Mother's Day. Share your photos with us and with Persist 5K .

Also show your support by making a Mother's Day gift to the Vermont Women's Fund in honor of a wonderful woman in your life.
Vermonters Coming Together for COVID-19 Response
In early April, Vermont Community Foundation Vice President, Sarah Waring, wrote about the exceptional coordinated efforts of service agencies in Central Vermont. On March 13, the Foundation launched the VT COVID-19 Response Fund to support a coordinated response to the many effects of COVID-19 in Vermont. The fund and website serve as resources to the response and long-term recovery efforts in Vermont.
VT COVID19 Resources
Vermont Community Foundation: VT COVID-19 Response Fund
Vermont Commission on Women: COVID-19 resources + information page
A huge thank you to this year’s Vermont Women’s Fund Annual Sponsors!
These are the companies that stand up for women and girls in their support of the Vermont Women’s Fund. We are so grateful and proud to have them as our partners in advancing gender equity.