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Women’s Foundation of Alabama awards $1.2 million to accelerate economic opportunities

46 Alabama-based programs and organizations across 44 counties received the awards.

The Women's Foundation of Alabama.
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As the state’s leading voice and philanthropic engine for women in Alabama, Women’s Foundation of Alabama harnesses and utilizes the power of philanthropy, research, and  policy advocacy to create systemic change for women, families, and the communities they call  home. Thursday, the foundation announces its 2023 grant awards totaling $1,205,724.00 for 46  Alabama-based programs and organizations across 44 counties with the potential to impact the  lives of over 6,400 women and girls. 

“Last year marked the first statewide, competitive grant cycle for the foundation in its history, and  we were thrilled to learn about so many organizations embedded in communities across the state that are doing critical work to expand economic opportunity for Alabama women and families and  we’re even more excited to support these hardworking people and organizations,” states Zhaundra C. Jones, Vice President of Philanthropy and Learning, Women’s Foundation of Alabama. “This is  an impressive group doing an array of work that is so important to the foundation’s broader  mission, as it both enriches and augments our policy advocacy efforts. Together this combination  of strategic philanthropy and advocacy provides a powerful one-two punch in our crusade to  improve systems, break down barriers, and foster economic mobility for women across the board.” 

For the 2023 fall competitive grant cycle, grantees were selected in one of three priority areas – Women + Work, Women + Leadership, Women + Wellbeing – reflecting the foundation’s interest  in holistic, innovative approaches to women’s economic opportunity. An example of one such  program comes from WFA grantee, Breakthrough Birmingham, whose resourceful approach to  new teacher retention caught the attention of committee members. Hattie O’Hara, Development  Manager for Breakthrough Birmingham, shares, “Breakthrough Birmingham is honored to be the  recipient of grant funding from the Women’s Foundation of Alabama. This funding will be going  directly to carry out our mission of reversing education inequity in Alabama by supporting our Thrive teacher coaching program. Thanks to this partnership with WFA, we can continue providing  new teachers with the resources they need to not just survive in the classroom, but to thrive.”

In addition to the competitive grant cycle awards, Women’s Foundation of Alabama continued to  fund grants in multiple ongoing initiatives, including the well-known Student-Parent Success Model in partnership with the Alabama Community College System. This 2-Generation approach  integrates industry-aligned career training and credential programs with critical wraparound  support services, including high-quality child care, transportation, and coaching for student parents to maximize the likelihood of program completion. “Workforce development continues to be a mainstay of our strategy,” said Jones, “our [low] workforce participation rate demands that we use every tool on our belt to help alleviate the barriers that continue to get in the way of too many people.”  

Two grantees working to mitigate those barriers, include Huntsville based, United Women of Color and statewide organization, Legal Services of Alabama. Angela Curry, Executive Director of United  Women of Color, said, “United Women of Color’s partnership with Women’s Foundation of  Alabama will enable us to provide essential technology training and resources to empower women  in Alabama, breaking down barriers to employment and creating new pathways to economic mobility. This collaboration will play a crucial role in addressing gender disparities and increasing opportunities for women to thrive in the [tech] workforce while helping mothers lift their children out of poverty.” 

Holly Ray, Pro Bono Manager for Legal Services of Alabama, whose project addresses medical debt and its impact on women’s financial wellbeing, states “This grant will allow Legal Services Alabama  to provide free lawyers to help women immediately protect the income they need to pay their  rent, utilities, childcare expenses, and grocery bills. We are grateful for the support and partnership of the Women’s Foundation in our shared goals to protect the hard-earned income of Alabama’s working mothers and ensure families can continue to support themselves.” 

Women’s Foundation of Alabama further expands its philanthropic efforts across the state through  localized Giving Circles, vehicles that empower passionate individuals to pool and propel resources to spark change in their own communities. Mobilized around a unique mission, the three unique Giving Circles, The Brilliant Black Girl Collective, Morgan County Giving Circle, and Society of Clotilda, drive intentional grantmaking, facilitate meaningful conversations, and generate donations for causes of their choice and were a valuable component of the foundation’s giving for  2023. 

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In December 2023, Women’s Foundation of Alabama publicly launched Watershed, an  unprecedented approach that activates transformative grantmaking, eye-opening research, and strategic advocacy in conjunction with government, philanthropy, business, and community leaders to introduce 10,000 women into Alabama’s workforce and on the path to economic mobility by 2027. The competitive grant cycle represents one of the many ways the foundation has broadened its portfolio of catalytic initiatives, collaboratives, and targeted grants through which it  hopes to streamline the ability of women to participate in and contribute to our state’s growing  economy. 

Through Watershed, the foundation seeks to boost support to stalwart partners such as  community colleges and other career training providers that are uniquely positioned to place and accelerate women into family-sustaining, quality jobs. Simultaneously, Women’s Foundation aims to triple its investments to community-based organizations and projects across the state, like the 2023 Women’s Foundation of Alabama grantees, that are working on the ground level to address the significant, interconnected barriers women face to economic opportunity and well-being.  

Grantee recipients for 2023 include: 

Fall 2023 Competitive Grant Cycle 

• Alabama Justice Initiative, statewide: AJI’s Reimagine Community Fellowship (Women +  Leadership) 

• Alabama Prison Birth Project, of Ostara Initiative, Auburn, AL: Advancing the Emotional,  Physical, and Financial Wellness of Incarcerated, Pregnant Women (Women + Wellbeing)

• Athens Limestone County Family Resource Center, Athens, AL: Workforce Development (Women + Work) 

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• Birmingham Corps, Birmingham, AL: Place for Purpose (Women + Work)

• Birthwell Partners, Birmingham, AL: Leveraging the Power of DOULAS to Improve the  Health and Wellbeing of AL Women (Women + Work) 

• Breakthrough Birmingham, Birmingham, AL: Thrive Teachers Program (Women +  Leadership) 

• Community Care Development Network, Birmingham, AL: Mothers Matter Initiative (Women + Work) 

• Diane’s Heart, Birmingham, AL: She Knew There Was More Coaching and Mentoring  Program (Women + Wellbeing) 

• Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, Montgomery, AL: Girl Scout Leadership Experience (Women + Leadership) 

• Girls Inc. of Huntsville, Huntsville, AL: Girls Excelling in Leadership (Women + Leadership)

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• Global Ties Alabama, Huntsville, AL: Refugee Resettlement Women’s Program (Women +  Wellbeing) 

• Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Homewood, AL: Elevating Hispanic/Latinx &  Immigrant Women in Leadership (Women + Leadership)

• Hope Inspired Ministries, Montgomery, AL: Expanded and New Communication Tactics to  Increase Reach to Unemployed Individuals Who Want to Work (Women + Work)

• Legal Services Alabama, statewide: Income Protection Project (Women + Work)

• One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center, Birmingham, AL: Developing Agency  and Pathways to Hope for Survivors (Women + Wellbeing) 

• Pathways, Inc., Birmingham, AL: Early Learning Center (Women + Work)

• Shelby Emergency Assistance, Montevallo, AL: Thrive Together Shelby County (Women +  Wellbeing) 

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• Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, Birmingham, AL: EmpowerHER: Elevating Rural  Women Filmmakers — Women in Film Week 2024 (Women + Leadership) 

• St. Vincent’s Foundation of Alabama, Birmingham, AL: Jeremiah’s Hope (Women + Work)

• United Women of Color, Huntsville, AL: Capacity-building for Advancement & Racial  Equity (CARE) (Women + Work) 

• West Alabama Women’s Center, Tuscaloosa, AL: Prenatal care and support for uninsured  patients (Women + Wellbeing) 

• Women Under Construction Network, Birmingham, AL: What I Learned At Home Project (Women + Wellbeing) 

Community College Grants 

• Bevill State Community College, Jasper, AL: Family Forward with Career Women

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• Calhoun Community College, Tanner, AL: Commercial Driver’s License Training

• Gadsden State Community College, Gadsden, AL: Women in Welding 

• Jefferson State Community College, Birmingham, AL: Women in Welding

• Lawson State Community College, Birmingham, AL: Pharmacy Tech Training Program

• Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, Andalusia, AL: StrongHER Healthcare Initiative

• Shelton State Community College, Tuscaloosa, AL: 3 X 3 Family or Group Childcare Home  Owner Training 

• Trenholm State Community College, Montgomery, AL: STEP UP: CNA/Medication Aide  Combo Certification Prep 

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• Wallace Community College, Selma, AL: Women in Trucking A CDL Truck Driving Program

• Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL: Careers in Healthcare: From Phlebotomist to Medical Lab Assistant 

Girls at the Center 

• AUM Foundation, Huntsville, AL: Girls at the Center 

• Community Care Development Network, Birmingham, AL: Girls at the Center  • GirlSpring, Birmingham, AL: Girls at the Center

• Empowered 2 Conquer, Bessemer, AL: Girls at the Center 

• Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health, Montgomery, AL: Girls at the Center 

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Giving Circle Grants 

• The Brilliant Black Girl Collective*: 17 Scholarships Granted 

• Society of Clotilda**: New Mindz Mentorship Program LLC 

• Society of Clotilda: Ambitiously Him & Her King Foundation 

• Society of Clotilda: Start Smart! College Bound – Career Ready 

• Society of Clotilda: Mingo Matters Foundation 

• Society of Clotilda: The MOnthly Project 

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• Society of Clotilda: Africatown Freedom Tours 

• Society of Clotilda: Vivian’s Door 

• Society of Clotilda: Surviving 3.6 Inc, Home 

• Society of Clotilda: Let’s Think Pink 

• Society of Clotilda: Mothers Involved Against Gun Violence 

• Morgan County Giving Circle***: AUM Foundation 

*The Brilliant Black Girl Collective makes grants to scholars in Birmingham City Schools. 

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**Society of Clotilda makes grants to organizations within Mobile County, Alabama.  

***Morgan County Giving Circle grants to organizations within Morgan County, Alabama. 

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