The needs of women and children aren’t always the same as those of the general population. That was the conclusion three women in Medina County came to after serving on the board of the Medina County Community Fund in the 1990s.
Katie Horn, Jane Lang and Gwen Rivers were the only women on the board at that time, and they soon came to realize that only a very small percentage of philanthropic dollars nationwide went to programs that target the serious issues facing women and children.
Many of these issues, including domestic violence, mental health and education, were already major concerns of the founders of the Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, which served Summit County.
"We thought, 'Boy, we should do this (in Medina County)' because we saw how successful the Women’s Endowment Fund was," Katie said.
So, the three women began looking for founding donors in their community. Many intimate teas and luncheons later, the women gathered 80 community-minded donors to help start their own women’s fund with Akron Community Foundation.
In 1998, the Medina County Women’s Endowment Fund was established with $104,000. It awarded its first grant in 2001, giving $4,000 to the Women’s Health Fair at the YWCA.
Since that time, the fund has supported dozens of nonprofit organizations that improve the lives of women and children in Medina County. In 2006, Katie, Jane and Gwen were honored with the American Association of University Women’s Agent of Change Award for their efforts in starting the fund and meeting the needs of women and children across the county.
"As new needs crop up, especially with children, we’re able to give to some of these smaller organizations," Katie said. "We’ve just been able to place our funds in (nonprofits) that have been very, very worthwhile."
Best of all, she said, the Medina County Women’s Endowment Fund will serve as a permanent source of support for local women and children.
"That’s the one thing we like so much – the permanency of it," Katie said. "This is an ongoing legacy."