Recent Grants

Grantmaking is at the core of A Fund for Women.

Guided by community needs and the input of our supporters, A Fund For Women oversees a rigorous grantmaking process that supports economic empowerment for women and girls in Dane County. Because investing in women is a proven solution to achieving economic security for families, we refocused our grantmaking as part of a community-based initiative called Earn-Save-Invest. Thanks to generous donors and a community partnership with Summit Credit Union, A Fund for Women is commited to supporting efforts to reduce poverty and increase opportunities for education and family-sustaining jobs.

Tai’Kiah Phillips with her daughter Taraji Hillman

Onward Odyssey: Tai’Kiah Phillips Is Rocking College and Motherhood

By Sarah White, Advisory Committee

Recognizing the role higher education plays in economic empowerment, A Fund For Women selected Onward Odyssey – Empowering Women to receive a $20,000 grant in its 2016 cycle. Tai’Kiah Phillips is rocking college as a result.

Onward Odyssey is an outgrowth of the UW-Madison’s Odyssey Project, a free humanities course offered through UW–Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies and English Department to adult students facing economic barriers to college. Each year since 2003, the Odyssey Project has given 30 students free tuition, textbooks, and childcare, allowing them to participate in a two-semester humanities course and earn six college credits. Many Odyssey graduates go on to finish college degrees. Over the years, the program has grown to include an Odyssey Junior program for children and Onward Odyssey to help program graduates continue their education.

Onward Odyssey – Empowering Women serves at-risk women with four programs: Special Education Assistant (SEA) training; Odyssey English 100; Odyssey Introduction to Food Systems; and one-on-one academic coaching. Tai’Kiah Phillips participated in SEA in 2016 and Odyssey English 100 in Spring 2017.

The arrival of daughter Taraji (now 3) had interrupted Tai’Kiah’s plans to return to college after dropping out of UW-Whitewater. She had done well in high school but the transition to college was difficult. “You’re away from home, you think you’re so mature, but you get there—wow!” she said. Tai’Kiah returned to Madison and began working. “Life happened,” interrupting her academic plans. “When I got to Odyssey, they pushed me back in the right direction,” she said.

The SEA program prepared Tai’Kiah to pass the exam for the credential required to work in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Odyssey English 100 brings Tai’Kiah closer to her goal of a career as a teacher. Tai’Kiah is now studying at Madison College.

“The Odyssey program gave me an opportunity to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do school, and I can be a full-time mother, and I can still try to reach my goals,” she said.

“Tai’Kiah illustrates how motivated our Odyssey students are and how helpful the Fund for Women grant has been in empowering young mothers to overcome adversity and achieve dreams through higher education,” said Emily Auerbach, Professor of English and Director of the UW Odyssey Project.

Recent graduates of Centro Hispano's CAMINOS bank teller training program.

A Fund for Women 2016 Grants

  • CAMINOS Career Pathways Bank Teller Training Program is a Centro Hispano of Dane County program for bilingual Latinos. In addition to education and career preparation, the program provides students with financial literacy, including how to pay off loans, build credit, mortgage a house, and more. The $37,200 grant will support a new Career Pathways Specialist position to provide case management throughout all the stages of the program.
  • Economic Empowerment for Domestic Violence Survivors will strengthen and enhance the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) Career Workshops program. Career Workshops address women’s economic empowerment by supporting clients in finding gainful employment, thus reducing financial barriers that may ultimately decrease their safety and the safety of their children. With the $10,000 grant, a new focus on staff training will allow DAIS to infuse economic empowerment skills and messages throughout its programs to support more clients in reducing or eliminating barriers to finding or retaining jobs.
  • Doyenne Group Evergreen Fund is an innovative entrepreneurial resource designed to financially support the launch, growth and sustainability of businesses owned by women and people of color. The fund will provide a mixture of grants, loans, equity investments and program support for Madison area startups. A Fund for Women’s $10,000 grant will be pooled with other resources raised from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation and the city of Madison.
  • Onward Odyssey – Empowering Women is an intensive, long-term education and careers program for at-risk women. The $20,000 grant will aid in the development of roadmaps to move women forward on their academic and career paths and connect them with community resources to help eliminate obstacles that would otherwise stand in their way. Onward Odyssey is a program of the Odyssey Project, a life-changing initiative to empower adults near the poverty level to overcome adversity and achieve dreams through higher education.
  • The Road Home Family Employment Fund makes extra funds available for women in The Road Home Dane County housing programs who are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to pay for employment-related expenses, including child-care enrollment, car repair, certified nursing assistant testing, GED testing, clothing and bus tickets. The $10,000 grant from A Fund for Women will provide up to $200 in emergency employment-related assistance to 50 female-headed families depending on their level of need. Teenagers seeking employment may also benefit from this fund.
  • Women in YWeb Career Academy (YWebCA) builds on the successful YWCA Madison education and job placement program for women and people of color, who are underrepresented in technology. YWebCA increases opportunities to attain family-sustaining jobs while also meeting a labor market gap. The $23,473 grant will enable ten women to participate in YWebCA in 2017, receiving instruction in website development, job readiness, team building, and computer programming. Upon completion, graduates have opportunities to attend conferences, network with local tech professionals, and participate in job-shadowing and paid internships with local tech partners.
A Fund for Women has a proven track record of encouraging local women to become financially stable through programs that work.”

–Kim Sponem, Summit Credit Union CEO and President