Women & Girls Fund

Visit the Women & Girls Fund Facebook page for all the latest news and happenings.

Our Mission

Make it possible for women and girls to improve the quality of their lives.
The Women & Girls Fund was established in 2001 as a community based endowment of the Main Street Community Foundation. The Women & Girls Fund exists because we believe in the potential of women and girls and the power they have to build strong communities. This fund supports programs and initiatives that benefit women and girls of all ages in Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott. We tap into the power of women to strengthen their communities by:

  • Funding programs and organizations that help women and girls obtain the skills they need to lead successful lives. A total of $780,000 in program and immediate response grants has been awarded over the past 22 years.
  • Empowering and celebrating women by hosting events such as the annual WOW fundraiser, publishing news, sponsoring community gatherings and by inviting women to volunteer on the Women & Girls Fund Advisory Board and committees.
  • Increasing public awareness of the needs that exist for women and girls and the opportunities available to help bridge the gap.

Advisory Board

  • Jessica Pieri Holdsworth, Chair
  • Morgan Murphy, Vice Chair
  • Lisa Palen, Secretary
  • Jarre Betts, Member-at-Large
  • Jeanine Audette
  • Marguerite P. Fletcher
  • Lori Gottschall
  • Laura S. Minor
  • Colleen Nicastro
  • Sharon Stotz
  • Carolyn Ziogas

Directors Emeritae

The Directors Emeritae of the Women & Girls Fund are those who served with distinction and excellence, and who made extraordinary contributions to the Fund through their devotion of time, expertise, special initiatives, and service. We are pleased to recognize the following Directors Emeritae: 

  • Cathryn Addy
  • Melanie Barnes
  • Mary Benoit
  • Trudy Brown
  • Barbara Campbell
  • Ann Clark
  • Cindy Donovan
  • Cheryl Dumont-Smith
  • Pattie Dunn
  • Marguerite Fletcher
  • Rita Gerzanick
  • Wilma Hart
  • Dee Hession
  • Susan Laberge
  • Dawn Leger
  • Diane Macklosky
  • Dawn Nielsen
  • Carolyn Norton
  • Jeanne Radcliff
  • Susan Scarritt
  • Susan Scully
  • Jessica Weed
  • Katherine Weed
  • Helen Zervas

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The creation of the Women & Girls Fund at Main Street Community Foundation came at a time when the Foundation was still relatively new and looking for ways to grow and to increase its presence in the six communities of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott.

At a MSCF board meeting, then Executive Director Cheryl Dumont-Smith mentioned that a number of community foundations had funds dedicated to serving the needs of women and girls. The Board of Directors loved the idea.

With that challenge, a breakfast meeting of local women was held at one of their houses to see if there would be sufficient interest to pursue the creation of a fund.

There was so much enthusiasm that the women came out of that meeting with a task force and committees formed. Focus groups were held in each of the six communities served by the Foundation – inviting social service providers, non-profits and community leaders to discuss the needs of the women and girls they served. Then began a marketing campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to create a fund at MSCF.

The funds were raised, and the Fund was established at MSCF in 2001. In addition, a match from the Bristol Brass Fund at the Foundation was awarded. But the income from the Women & Girls Fund wouldn’t generate enough income initially to make any significant grants to the local organizations improving the lives of women and girls. So some fundraisers were held, including the first WOW event.

Since its establishment in 2001, the Women and Girls Fund has provided funding to over 80 organizations. The funds for these grants come from two sources, the proceeds of the annual WOW spring event and an annual distribution from the endowment.

The Advisory Board of the Women & Girls Fund directs the activities of the Fund. The Advisory Board sets funding goals and strives to reach more and more women as the fund grows each year.

At the initial meetings, the Early Leaders of the Fund set a goal - building the endowment to at least $500,000 to ensure that there will always be funds available to identify and meet the needs of women and girls in the six communities served.

As part of the Fund's 10th anniversary in 2011, the Women & Girls Fund launched an Endowment Building Program to build the endowment closer to the $500,000 goal. In the Spring of 2011, thanks to the generosity of Women & Girls Fund Founding Member Noreen Schumann, the Women & Girls Fund was challenged to raise $25,000 in gifts toward the endowment by December 31, 2011. We did just that, and as a result, we increased our endowment by over $50,000 in 2011.

In 2016, the Advisory Board announced the First 500 Challenge, a campaign to bring the Fund's endowment up to and over $500,000 by the end of the 15th year. The Fund received a pledge of $15,000 from a few anonymous donors to help kick off the challenge, which was announced at the annual Wonder of Women WOW event in March 2016. In addition, the original founders of the Fund pledged $10,000. The Advisory Board also announced the establishment of the 500 Club, which will include all donors who have donated $500 or more to the First 500 Challenge. Thanks to over 150 generous donors, the goal was reached and the original dream of the Founders to have an endowment of $500,000 was realized by the end of 2016! But we can't stop there. We need to continue to grow the Fund so every woman and girl in your local communities can improve her conditions and opportunities.

We thank all current and future supporters of the Women & Girls Fund who are investing in our community by providing funding to a variety of organizations that address the vital needs of women and girls of all ages... now and in the future. 
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The Women & Girls Fund Advisory Board cordially invites you to join one of our committees. We ask that you bring your ideas, talents, community spirit, and your dedication to assisting women and girls to obtain their goals! We welcome your valuable time and expertise in any of these committees:

  • Distribution
  • Events

Please consider attending a meeting of any committee or speak with its chairperson or members to gather more information. To make a connection, please contact Main Street Community Foundation at 860.583.6363 or send an email to office@mainstreetfoundation.org. We'll make sure you get the information you need and the welcome you deserve!

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News and Events

January 25, 2024 - MSCF announced $50,500 in grant awards from the Women & Girls Fund! Read more here.
January 10, 2023 - MSCF announced over $43,000 in grant awards from the Women & Girls Fund at the annual Grantee Reception! Read more here.
May 5, 2022 - MSCF's Women & Girls Fund collects donations to assist Ukrainian women and girls. Read more here.
November 9, 2021 - MSCF announced $45,000 in grant distributions from the Women & Girls Fund! Read more here.
September 29, 2021 - The Women & Girls Fund collects feminine hygiene products for the local communities. Read more here.
September 9, 2021 - 20 years and $20,000 in anniversary grants celebrated at the Wonder of Women Event! Read more here.
December 3, 2020 - The Women & Girls Fund announced its 2020 grant distributions! Read more here.

Wonder of Women WOW
The 23rd annual Wonder of Women WOW event will be held on May 1, 2024, at 5:30pm at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Seats are $65 per person. In addition to several grantee organizations, the guest speaker this year will be Robin Reiser. Robin is a comedian, writer, storyteller and speaker. She has appeared on NBC, E! and the Oxygen network; has written for stage and screen; and her storytelling can be heard on many podcasts, including RISK and THE ONLY ONE IN THE ROOM. Robin wrote and plays all the roles in the web series PINK EYE, and was an audience favorite on Last Comic Standing and at the Sundance Film Festival. After twenty years in Los Angeles, Robin has returned to the northeast to be closer to her parents and raise her son with seasons.

Proceeds from the event support grants to programs assisting women and girls in Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott.

Sponsorship opportunities are available! Click here for the Wonder of Women Sponsorship Package.

Click here for the WOW poster, and save the date!


A Big Thank You to the 2024 WOW Sponsors!

Premier Sponsor
Barnes Group Foundation

Platinum Sponsors
Hartford HealthCare The Hospital of Central Connecticut
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Gold Sponsor
Briar Rose Networks, Center for Aesthetics & Wellness/Victoria Biondi, M.D.
Thomaston Savings Bank
Webster Bank
Wheeler Health

Silver Sponsors
Jarre and Whit Betts
Bristol Association of Principals and Supervisors
Bristol Federation of Teachers
Bristol Health
The Calvanese Foundation
Catherine and Christopher Cassin
CCOG Women's Health Group
DACRUZ Manufacturing
DK Movement Cares
FDW Group of Raymond James
Michael J. Lepore
Katherine and Peter Matthews
Micari Financial Group, LLC
Plainville Funeral Home
Radcliff Wire
Roland Dumont Agency Inc.
Torrington Savings Bank
Walmart - Southington
Attorneys Carolyn and Mark Ziogas

Bronze Sponsors
Cathryn Addy
Jeanine and Michael Audette
Bank of America Private Bank
Bobrow & Company, P.C. 
Carolyn Checovetes Divenere
D'Amato Construction Company, Inc.
The DePaolo Family Foundation
Cheryl Dumont-Smith
Pattie Dunn
Ginny and Geoff Fitzgerald
Margi Fletcher
Holistic Health Code
Dawn Leger
Lori Meusel Eschner
Dr. Sue Moreau
Colleen and Michael Nicastro
Dawn Nielsen
Lisa Palen
Jeanne Radcliff
Jessica Pieri and Jeffrey Holdsworth
Susan Sadecki
Senior Housing at Quail Hollow Village, Inc.
Laura Schlesinger Minor
Deborah Spooner
Sharon and Rodger Stotz
The Carousel Museum
Walmart - Bristol
Bruce Wazorko Jr. CPA, LLC

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Contributing to the Women & Girls Fund

To make a donation directly to the Women & Girls Fund, please click here.
To contribute to any other funds, please visit our Donate Now page.

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Grant Distribution & Awards

Since 2001, the Women & Girls Fund has awarded a total of $780,000 in grants to organizations and individuals in Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott. In 2023, $50,500 in program grants were awarded to 11 organizations. In addition, two additional named funds at Main Street Community Foundation supported proposals submitted to the Women & Girls Fund.

The grant priorities for the Women & Girls Fund have evolved as Main Street Community Foundation stays connected to the local nonprofits and the emerging needs of women and girls in the communities served. To see a summary of the latest grantmaking priorities, visit the Apply for a Grant page.

The 2023 annual grant cycle for the Women & Girls Fund is now closed. Applications for the 2024 grant cycle will be made available during the third quarter of 2024 and if you have any questions, please contact us.

The 2023 grants supported the following causes, programs and projects:

Boys & Girls Club of Bristol - $7,500
SMART Girls: Giving Girls Confidence program for girls ages 8-12 to teach responsibility and to develop a healthy attitude and lifestyle by engaging in discussions and activities that reinforce positive behavior
Barbara Hackman Franklin Fund for Women
Women & Girls Fund

Bristol Family Resource Centers - $5,500
Expansion of the Girl Up! program, a targeted small-group intervention to build leadership skills in girls ages 6-12 in three Bristol Public Schools: Greene-Hills School, South Side School and West Bristol School

BristolWORKS! - $3,500
Women’s Workforce Empowerment Series program, a series of workshops to empower women to be confidence, successful, and healthy within the workplace and develop skills for both in and out of the workplace
John & Gloria DiFrancesco Fund for Women and Girls
Women & Girls Fund

EdAdvance (Plymouth Family Resource Center) - $1,500
Girls Lunch Bunch: Social Emotional Support Groups program featuring activities to increase girls’ confidence, self-esteem, social skills and positive development

Girl Scouts of Connecticut - $5,000
Girl Scout Starter Troop program to sustain and expand the three Girl Scout troops in the Foundation’s service area by removing financial barriers for both new troop leaders and members

PARC - $6,000
Golden Gang Senior Women’s program for senior women with developmental disabilities in residing in the Foundation’s service area

Plymouth Parks and Recreation - $3,000
Financial and Health Lunch and Learn program for senior women in Plymouth to educate and reduce social isolation

Shepard Meadows Equestrian Center - $5,500
Equine Gestalt Coaching Series program to strengthen mental health, well-being, and self-esteem

St. Vincent De Paul Mission of Bristol - $5,000
Unrestricted support for women and girls

The Children’s Law Center - $5,000
Legal Representation program for girls in the New Britain Family Court

The New England Carousel Museum - $3,000
Sunday Afternoon STEAM program for women and girls

2022 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2021 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2020 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2019 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2018 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2017 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2016 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2015 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2014 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2013 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2012 Women & Girls Fund Grants

2011 Women & Girls Fund Grants

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