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Women's Endowment Fund History

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.

Founders of the Women's Endowment Fund
The founding mothers of the Women's Endowment Fund

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. 

"You know what we need?" Covington said. "A women’s foundation.”

They soon began brainstorming with other like-minded women, including Ilene Shapiro, Carrie Herman, Laurie Zuckerman and Jody Bacon, the then-president of Akron Community Foundation. Rather than embark on creating their own private foundation, Bacon 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,” Covington said. From that seed, the Women's Endowment Fund grew.

In 1993, Covington, Rist 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. 

“We think so often of philanthropists as people who give millions, but through the Women's Endowment Fund, we all can be philanthropists," Covington said.