The Impact of Three Rural Women & Girls of Color Fund Grantees
Women & Girls of Color Fund Grantees Make Significant Impacts on Local Communities
Applications closed for the Front Range cycle of the Women & Girls of Color Fund earlier this month. As the advisory council reviews proposals to select our next group of incredible grantees, we look back on the first round of funding in the rural cycle this spring and share some highlights of our grantee partners’ work.
Colorado Mountain College, Summit County
The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s commitment to trust-based philanthropy means trusting that women of color leaders know their communities best. That’s why grants from the Women & Girls of Color Fund are always unrestricted. When Dr. A. Yvette Myrick, Colorado Mountain College’s (CMC) program director for English as a Second Language (ESL) and High School Equivalency Preparation, applied for a grant from the Women & Girls of Color Fund, she was thrilled at the possibility of being able to use the funds to give women of color access to ESL training, high school equivalency training, and career and technical education readiness – programs which are often ineligible for federal financial aid.
“What CMC has found particularly powerful is that many of these students, especially women of color, attain incredible educational achievements while requiring only very minimal individual scholarships; sometimes $300 to $500 can make an incredible difference,” Dr. Myrick wrote in Colorado Mountain College’s application.
Several months after receiving funding, Dr. Myrick shared an update. Despite access to scholarships made possible through the Women & Girls of Color Fund grant, her team started to notice that many students were still facing one significant barrier to attending classes and trainings: access to child care. CMC’s team quickly pivoted and shifted some of the grant funds to operate a child care program that now allows more parents to achieve their post-secondary goals.
“Flexible funding for child care is vital to our program,” said Dr. Myrick. “The child care funding will support families and women with children by allowing the adult learners to pursue their educational goals while providing their children with safe, fun, early childhood education. Child care will be provided consistently during ESL and GED classes, removing barriers to education.”
Herbal Gardens Wellness, Custer County
Nancy Rae Kochis-Clark, Carlanas Apache and co-founder of Herbal Gardens Wellness, is all about relationships and collaboration. To kick off a meeting with the WFCO team, she asked everyone to share their purpose, ethics, and gifts. She explained that this is a common practice in Apache culture to create bonding, relationships, kinships, and spaces of shared values. So far this year, they’ve created those spaces with Enterprise Community Partners to put on a land acknowledgement workshop, Community Resource Center to plan their region’s Rural Philanthropy Days, the Wet Mountain Valley Community Foundation and other local organizations to do trail clean ups, and Chinook Fund to find panelists for a conversation with prison administrators in Custer County to name just a few.
During a virtual site visit with our advisory council this summer, Nancy Rae and two Herbal Gardens Wellness Native Women’s Advisory Board members – Marsha, Chippewa Cree/Sicangu Lakota, and Cassandra, Carlanas Apache – shared how the grant they received from the Women & Girls of Color Fund helped deepen their partnerships. The Native Women’s Advisory Board, which directs Herbal Gardens Wellness’ basic needs services, designated a portion of the funds to provide buffalo to reservation, school, and community partners. Not only has the grant enabled them to provide essential nutrition to Native communities, it has also allowed them to provide honorariums to community members volunteering their time to make this critical work happen.
But Nancy Rae also let us know that this is just the beginning of our partnership. “We don’t want this to be a one-off. That’s not how we roll. You’re a part of the family now.”
Integrated Community, Routt County
Since its founding in 2004, the driving force behind Integrated Community’s work has always, and continues to be, its community. With a mission of proactively promoting and supporting successful integration of immigrant and local community members in Northwest Colorado, Integrated Community has largely based their ever-expanding resources and programs on the needs of a growing immigrant population based in Routt County.
With programs that focus on three areas: education, translation and interpretation, and resource and referral immigration services, Integrated Community’s direct services include: 24/7 interpretation, youth tutoring, adult English classes, permanent residency, renewals, citizenship applications, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewals and/or petitions, and more. They also work closely with community partners such as local law enforcement and the Routt County school districts to increase outreach, awareness, resources, and services beyond their staff of seven and limited volunteer team.
Integrated Community has gone from serving 100 community members to over 2100 in the past year alone. The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also shifted what resources they can provide amid a need for immediate financial assistance. Beginning in 2020, Integrated Community began offering cash assistance to families that were unable to access federal stimulus checks or unemployment benefits. With their partnership with another local nonprofit, they were able to provide 79 families with rent assistance. And even now, they are continuing to pivot and shape their work to the unique and evolving requests that come their way.
“We are known for really responding to the needs of our community,” said Integrated Community executive director, Nelly Navarro, in a recent virtual site visit with WFCO staff and Women & Girls of Color Fund advisory council members. “We simply just respond to what people are asking.”