Grants targeting women, girls
The Women's Fund of Hawaii is inviting organizations supporting women and girls throughout the state to apply for grants up to $5,000 by Oct. 2.
Sara Buehler, executive director of the fund, said it is trying to reach groups that might not typically apply for grants.
The grants are awarded only for programs serving women and/or girls. Special consideration is given to rural communities and programs serving native Hawaiian women and girls, she said.
This is the second round of grants this year from the Women's Fund, a grant-making foundation formed exclusively to address problems affecting Hawaii women and girls. It gave $25,000 in grants in June.
Buehler said the goal is to increase grants as the organization grows.
The effort to focus on needs of women and girls began in 1989 with Jane Renfro Smith, former chief executive officer of the Hawaii Community Foundation, Buehler said.
"Tremendous problems were facing girls and women in Hawaii," she said, and only one out of nine grants from traditional funders went to help women and girls.
Smith started the fund by asking 10 people to give $1,000 each, and in two weeks had 14 people donating $14,000, Buehler said.
Janice Reichman, one of the 14, said Smith gave a presentation to a business group pointing out that only about 4 percent of all philanthropic dollars were going to programs serving women and girls.
A follow-up Star-Bulletin column by the late Bud Smyser resulted in 18 women and one man each wanting to donate $1,000, she said. "That was the birth of the Women's Fund."
The organization grew, with more donors, activities and annual grantmaking, Reichman said, but it began languishing near the end of the 1990s. The community foundation provided funding to hire consultants to assess potential for revitalizing the fund, she said.
A leadership group of about 20 women spent about a year working on plans to develop and incorporate the organization with a governing board, Reichman said. The community foundation continues to hold the original endowment of more than $240,000 from donations, she said.
The group in the past two years has significantly increased the presence of the Women's Fund, its grantmaking programs and activities, said Reichman, immediate past chair of the board.
"It's still a very emerging operation with a shoestring budget. ... The focus is the same, raising awareness and raising dollars to support programs and projects supporting women and girls," she said. "We're especially interested in engaging women in philanthropy."
Buehler, an attorney hired as the fund's first director last November, said it has more than 450 members and "people are calling every day to be involved."
The organization is looking for office space, she said.
For more information, call 737-4999 or see www.womensfundhawaii.org.
FUNDS NEEDED FOR WOMEN
The Women's Fund of Hawaii, citing various sources, lists these as major problems confronting Hawaii women:
» Half of all single mothers live in poverty, and two-thirds of working women are in the lowest-paying jobs.
» Women make up 39 percent of the homeless population.
» A single mother with one child must earn $13 per hour to survive financially in Hawaii, but minimum wage pays $6.25.
» Hawaii has the highest crystal methamphetamine (ice) use in the nation, and only one residential treatment program for women that accepts children.
» Native Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian women have the highest rates of many serious health problems, and native Hawaiian women "fare poorly on socioeconomic factors."
» The number of women in prison is increasing at a faster rate than men.
Problems Facing Girls
» The average age of girls who become prostitutes in Honolulu is 14.
» Hawaii girls suffer higher rates of sexual assault and dating violence than those on the mainland.
» Three teenagers get pregnant every day.
» High school sports programs for girls do not receive as much funding as those for boys, and half as many girls participate in school sports.