Women’s Endowment Fund
Working together for Akron's women and girls
One Sunday morning in the early 1990s, fellow business owners and Women’s Network members Marie Covington and Norma Rist were sitting on Marie’s back porch. They were discussing the needs of women and girls in greater Akron, which were too many to count and had very little funding to support them.
Then, Marie said, "You know what we need? A women’s foundation.”
They soon began brainstorming with other like-minded women, including Ilene Shapiro, Carrie Herman, Laurie Zuckerman and Jody Bacon, then president of Akron Community Foundation. Rather than embark on creating their own private foundation, Jody encouraged the women to partner with Akron Community Foundation to harness the power of endowment
while avoiding the costs and burden of administration. “It was a blessing from heaven,” Marie said.
From that seed, the Women's Endowment Fund grew.
A partnership for progress
In 1993, Marie, Norma and 104 other women raised a combined $106,000 to start the Women's Endowment Fund. It was a major accomplishment, particularly in the early 1990s, but it was also proof that the fund's mission of encouraging philanthropy among local women and girls was necessary and attainable.
|WEF founders Carrie Herman, Norma Rist, Laurie Zuckerman,
Marie Covington, Jody Bacon and Ilene Shapiro.
“We think so often of philanthropists as people who give millions, but through the Women's Endowment Fund, we all can be philanthropists," Marie said.
In the following two decades, the Women's Endowment Fund would grow to more than $2 million and award nearly $600,000 in grants that have inspired, empowered and educated women and girls throughout Akron and all of Summit County.
The group also funded important studies on women and girls, including "The Economic Status of Women in Ohio," a briefing paper that uncovered great disparities based on race and ethnicity. These studies, along with the fund's bi-annual forum, help define the Women's Endowment Fund's grant-making priorities.
For Women, Forever