A fledgling women’s collective giving group in Westchester County that is part of a national movement in philanthropy is accepting applications from nonprofits in the county for its second year of grant awards.
Founded by six women, Impact100 Westchester a year ago recruited 132 members to donate $1,000 each toward the nonprofit’s first major grant award in 2014, said Sharon Douglas, co-president of Impact100 Westchester.
The organization, one of 18 independently run Impact100 charities formed by women in communities around the country since its inception in Cincinnati in 2001, aims to award high-impact or “transformational” grants for projects proposed by Westchester nonprofits that reach underserved residents, raise the profile of lesser-known organizations and point out unmet needs in the region. Its first grant award this year was $100,000.
In the grant review process, Impact100 carries out another part of its mission – “to educate our members about what is going on in Westchester County outside our own bubble,” Douglas said.
“It’s very hands-on and very democratic,” said Douglas, a longtime volunteer for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Members – the Impact100 groups seek to recruit at least 100 women who join with $1,000 donations – visit the sites of grant applicants’ proposed projects and cast equal votes at the group’s annual June meeting when selecting the top awardee from four finalists.
“We have plenty of sisters” as members, Douglas said. “We have mothers and daughters. It grew especially by word of mouth.”
Douglas was introduced to Impact100’s charitable work by a college friend in Philadelphia who had gotten involved in that city’s Impact100 group. As a Westchester resident, “I’ve just been bothered that we can live with so much wealth and so much poverty side by side, and no one does anything about it,” she said. She decided to import the Impact100 model to Westchester.
All of the members’ $1,000 donations are applied to the grant awards, Douglas said. Additional donations by members are used to cover fundraising and administrative costs.
The organization reviews applications in four categories: arts and culture, education, environment and health and wellness. Volunteer committees choose a finalist from each category for the grant.
Impact100 this year awarded its inaugural $100,000 grant to Furniture Sharehouse, a 7-year-old nonprofit operating at the Westchester County Airport that collects donated furniture and distributes it to formerly homeless families and other Westchester residents, some of whom have been left dispossessed by eviction from their homes, fire or flood. Some are victims of domestic violence leaving social agency shelters for independent living.
Furniture Sharehouse directors are using the $100,000 award to purchase the furniture bank’s own truck for pickups and deliveries. Impact100 also awarded smaller grants to help cover operating costs to three runners-up – Yonkers Partners in Education, Something Good In The World Inc., an environmental education organization in northern Westchester and Clay Art Center in Port Chester.
Douglas said the group hopes to raise $150,000 this month in its second membership drive. In 2015, “We want to double our impact,” she said.
Impact100 will hold a grant information session for nonprofits on Friday at the Greenburgh Public Library in Elmsford. The session will be from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
The amount of the 2015 grant will be announced on Jan. 5. The grant is expected to be between $75,000 and $100,000. Awards will be announced next June.
For more information on Impact100 and the online grant application process, go to the group’s website at impact100westchester.org.