By Nancy Lapp
What can a small group of determined women do for a university? A lot if that group is The University of Toledo’s Women & Philanthropy. In just five years, Women & Philanthropy has donated $176,931 in grants for University programs and projects. And they had fun doing it!
Women & Philanthropy grew out of a discussion in 2004 among eight women with a vision. By 2006, it had become an established organization complete with by-laws.
“Women & Philanthropy at The University of Toledo aspires to promote the University through investments and grants to University initiatives. We are committed to forging new relationships and building a community of thoughtful, effective philanthropists among women, diverse in age, interests and backgrounds.”
Women & Philanthropy is able to give substantial gifts to the University by pooling its members’ resources and making monetary awards in the form of grants. Each year, the grant cycle begins in late fall when grant applications are made available to UT staff, faculty, and students. The Women & Philanthropy Grants Committee reviews and evaluates the applications and the general membership votes to determine that year’s grant recipient(s). Grant amounts vary from year to year and are funded by membership dues.
The inaugural grant, in the amount of $15,000, was awarded in 2008 to the Carlson Library to commission a glass sculpture by artist Thomas McGlaughlin. That sculpture, entitled “A University Woman,” is on display in the library concourse and has become the model for the Women & Philanthropy logo.
In 2009, Women & Philanthropy pledged $50,000 to name a classroom in the Savage & Associates Business Complex for Business Learning and Engagement. The multi-media classroom features a mural of women in history and their inspirational quotes. Also in 2009, Women & Philanthropy funded the UT Outdoor Garden Classroom.
In 2010, a Women & Philanthropy grant was used for enhancements to the women’s basketball locker room in the newly refurbished Savage Arena. These enhancements included wall graphics and computer equipment. Tricia Cullop, Head Coach, said recently, “We are very grateful for the grant we received from Women & Philanthropy. We were able to decorate the walls of the locker room in a way that inspires our current team, honors our former student-athletes and impresses our recruits. We were also able to add a computer and printer that have helped our players study for classes.”
Ritter Planetarium also benefited from a grant in 2010. The $16,000 grant was used to create four computer-based, interactive displays in the lobby of Ritter Planetarium to educate visitors.
The following year, UT’s Center for Excellence in Autism received a grant that coincided with the Center’s opening for the Adolescent Girl’s and Women’s Wellness Initiative. Sherry Moyer, the Center’s Executive and Research Director, stated that, “Receiving the grant from Women & Philanthropy has allowed the Center for Excellence in Autism to renovate and equip an ‘Autism friendly’ examination room that is part of our Adolescent Girl’s and Women’s Wellness Initiative. Their vision has allowed us to bring to life a vital element of our programming which is the first of its kind in the country. It is a lasting contribution that embodies the best of UT’s spirit of innovation and dedication to serving the needs of the community.” Also in 2011, Women & Philanthropy funded the establishment of the Honors College Art Gallery. The 2012 Women & Philanthropy grant was a $50,000 pledge for the hospitality area of the William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion that opened in September 2012. This part of the Pavilion was named Women & Philanthropy Rocket Station and includes Launch Pads 1 and 2.
The membership of Women & Philanthropy is wide-ranging and is comprised of women with diverse backgrounds. Among the sixty members are business owners, homemakers, and academicians. The legal, medical, and financial fields are also represented. Many members are employed while others have retired. Their ages range from the 30’s to 90’s and they live in different parts of the country proving that it isn’t necessary to live locally to give locally.
Some members are UT alumni while others have not attended the University. One trait they all have in common is their dedication to the enrichment of The University of Toledo. This group of focused women promotes giving as an enjoyable, exciting and heartening experience. They have found that together they can make a difference that they may not have been able to do individually.
Women & Philanthropy is led by an active Advisory Board, supported by committees, and assisted by UT’s Division of Institutional Advancement. The current members of the Women & Philanthropy Advisory Board are: Marianne Ballas, Chair; Marcy McMahon, Vice Chair; Lynnette Werning, Treasurer; Karen DeNune, Secretary; Betsy Gouvernayre, Susie Shew, and Yolanda Danyi Szuch, Members-At-Large; Chris Spengler and Molly Schnell, Co-Chairs, Nominating Committee; Marcy McMahon, Chair, Membership Committee; Nancy Creech and Karen DeNune, Co-Chairs, Program Committee; and Nancy Lapp, Chair, Grants Committee. The administrative contact with the Division of Institutional Advancement is W&P member Chris Spengler.
Upon completion of each grant project, a celebration is held at the grant site so all the members of Women & Philanthropy can see and hear in person about the project or program that their grant funded. The University community, potential Women & Philanthropy members and guests are invited to share in the occasion. In addition to planning events associated with grants, the Women & Philanthropy Program Committee plans educational and social events.
Women & Philanthropy is an example for the nation of what an energized group of donors can do when they work together toward a common goal. For its members, Women & Philanthropy is an opportunity for a high level of donor engagement, leadership, collaboration and fulfillment.
Women & Philanthropy derives its income from membership dues. In addition, it has established an endowment fund to which anyone may make a contribution. Donations to this fund are welcome in any amount and, if the donor wishes, can be made in honor of an individual who represents the ideals of Women & Philanthropy.
To summarize, Marianne Ballas, Chair of the Women & Philanthropy Advisory Board, stated, “Our goal is to unify and collaborate with many women to make a difference at The University of Toledo. We invite all women to research our group and consider a membership. Collective and collaborative giving is powerful, and that’s what Women & Philanthropy is all about.”
For further information about Women & Philanthropy, membership application, or to make a donation to the Women & Philanthropy endowment fund, please contact Chris Spengler, Director of Advancement Relations, Chris.Spengler@utoledo.edu, 419.530.4927. Information is also available on the Women & Philanthropy website at http://www.utoledo.edu/offices/women_philanthropy.