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Over 4,000 households in La Crosse County (10%) live at or below the poverty line. Of these families, 3,276 are headed by female, single parents. Only 6.5% of all grant money awarded in the U.S. supports programs that specifically serve women and children.
In the 1980's, women's funds began to appear as components of community foundations. Women who served as administrators and board members of community foundations noticed that there was a large gap in philanthropy for programs for women and girls.
In May 1998, a group of community-minded women of the La Crosse area explored the need for a Women's Fund within the La Crosse Community Foundation to address the unique needs of women in our area. They identified a variety of challenges women face each day in terms of self-sufficiency, health and safety, and enrichment opportunities.
In September 1998, Carol Gilligan, chair of Gender Studies, Harvard University, spoke at a luncheon to announce the formation of the Women's Fund of the La Crosse Community Foundation. The La Crosse Community Foundation issued a challenge grant in the amount of $50,000 to launch the new Women's Fund. Two years later, the Women's Fund met that challenge. The $100,000 endowment became the basis of grant-making for programs focused on women and girls.
In 2010, the Women's Fund of Greater La Crosse obtained its own 501(c)(3) status and went independent. While an endowment is still maintained at the La Crosse Community Foundation, the Women's Fund of Greater La Crosse continues to work hard to make sure they are enriching the lives of women and girls so they can do the same for others.
In 1999, the Women's Fund awarded grants in the amount of $2,000. In 2007, the Women's Fund granted $24,600 to enrich the lives of women and girls so they can do the same for others. The Women's Fund has awarded a total of $108,000 to date.
The Women's Fund has awarded a total of $249,636 to date.
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Womens Fund of Greater La Crosse