Category Archives for Elevate Her SWFL

United Way of Collier County is a $15,000 sponsor of 2017 ElevateHer SWFL

United Way of Collier County is a $15,000 sponsor of 2017 ElevateHer SWFL


Elizabeth A. Morano – Senior Vice President, United Way of Collier County & Brenda Tate – Founder, Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida

United Way of Collier County a local organization dedicated to mobilizing the caring power of our community to advance the common good, has donated $15,000 to support ElevateHer SWFL, an initiative of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, serving Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. ElevateHer SWFL sponsors women and girls by facilitating matching grants that fund programs to educate, boost security and entrepreneurship and advocate from a woman’s perspective.

United Way of Collier County’s grant will support signature initiatives of The Women’s Foundation, which include: ElevateHer SWFL, Kiva U.S. Microloans, Matched Savings for Education and Human Trafficking awareness and prevention.


Why Southwest Florida Women Are Not Getting a Higher Education

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By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. However, for many Southwest Florida women, earning a college degree is not within reach.  More than 600,000 women call Southwest Florida — Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties — their home. According to our recent report on The Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty & Opportunity, fewer than 150,000 of these women — less than 1 in 5 — over the age of 25 have earned a college degree. The education attainment gap for those who grow up in households with constrained incomes continues to widen. Our country’s economic potential hangs in the balance.

Women in Florida have higher rates of poverty and lower rates of bachelor’s and master’s degrees than U.S. women overall. However, the three fastest-growing occupations-STEM, healthcare professional, and community services – also have the highest demand for post-secondary education and training.

A woman’s education after high school will directly influence her ability to make a livable wage. The minimum wage in Florida is $8.05 per hour. But basic economic security rates suggest that a single adult in Florida should earn about $14.52 an hour (with work benefits) to afford basic needs and savings. A woman who does not receive work benefits would need to earn about $22.56 per hour. Unfortunately, without higher education and training, it’s difficult for women to find jobs with wages that would allow them to afford basic needs.

Our Matched Savings for Education program aims to boost the economic clout of Southwest Florida women. We offer income challenged women the opportunity to save a portion of their paycheck for education. A woman who participates in our program can save for education and receive matching funds from the Women’s Foundation. When she reaches a $500 savings goal and completes financial literacy training, the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida will match her savings with another $4,000. These funds go straight to her student account at the college or career school of her choice and can be used to cover tuition, fees, and books.

With our communities’ economic potential hanging in the balance, we must allocate more resources to closing the college-completion gap. We must also ensure hard-working women have resources available to secure economic stability for themselves and their families. Click HERE to see how you can help SWFL women go to school.  Do you know anyone who wants to get an education? Learn more about our Matched Savings for Education Program Here.


Status of Women in Florida By County: Poverty and Opportunity

Indicators of Higher Education Equity in The United States

Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020

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Empowering Mood Boosting Playlist- Songs We’re Loving Right Now!

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Music is a mood-boosting wonder drug, and today we wanted to share our dose of daily happiness and inspiration with you!

We hope this playlist gets you through the week with tons of energy to go after each and every one of your goals.  Here at the Women’s Foundation HQ we’re committed to continuing to elevate SWFL women and girls! But who’s to say we can’t do that while we bust a dance move (or two)?

Tell us what songs get you moving when you need a boost? Share them with us in the comments below and maybe they will make it into our next power playlist!

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Southwest Florida Women- Listen Up!

pay for college

It’s no secret that the cost of college is higher than ever before in the U.S. (and that it continues to rise every year). However, as technology advances so does our need to acquire an education and develop new skills.

Getting an education is more important than ever!

According to recent College Board statistics the average tuition cost for undergrad students enrolled in 4-year public institutions is:

  • $9,410 for students with in-State tuition.
  • $23,893 for out of state students
  • $32,205 for private non-profit institutions

These figures do not account for the cost of textbooks, housing, and living expenses. It is for this reason that we decided to put our Matched Savings for Education program in action. To help hard-working Southwest Florida women get the education they deserve!

Florida ranks in the bottom third nationally among women 25 years and older holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, we know that education is the key to higher paying jobs and financial security for women and their families” – Nancy Merolla, Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida Board Chair

How It Works. For example:

  1.  Deposit $45-$85/month for 6-12 months to reach $500 savings goal
  2.  Earn $8 for every $1 saved. $500 becomes $4,500!
  3. Own a $4,500 FDIC-Insured Bank Savings Account
  4. Attend college!


Qualifying Clients:

  • Women
  • Low-income Household (below 200% current Federal Poverty Level)
  • Referred by B.E.S.T. Partners

Are you interested in applying for this program? Click HERE to be redirected to our intake partners at United Way of Collier County. A B.E.S.T. partner will be in contact with you shortly. Thank you.



Thank You to Our Partners for making this initiative possible!

Florida Community BankUnited Way of Collier County - Logo


Why the World Doesn’t Need Your Charity

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why-the-world-doesnt-need-your-charityTraditionally, non-profit organizations have addressed the needs of the community by filling service gaps and developing programs to help communities in need. This is often achieved by raising funds/goods to support a cause, and by distributing those funds/goods to those in need to fulfill the nonprofit’s mission.

But is this approach working? Are nonprofits helping the needy and developing long-lasting results to address issues of inequality, poverty and lack of access to education? The answer to this question is often a resounding NO.

A common problem in the nonprofit world is that emphasis is often placed on addressing the immediate symptoms of a problem, but the cause of that problem is often ignored.

We treat hunger in our community by opening food banks; open shelters for those who need a home, etc. But in doing this, we are not addressing the problems that caused an individual to need those services; we are only putting a Band-Aid on the problem.

“Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.” – Robert D. Lupton, Author of the book Toxic Charity

Organizations who provide immediate relief for hunger, shelter and natural disasters are crucial to our community. However, a nonprofit’s work should not end there.

Treating the symptoms is only a temporary fix as the problems usually repeat, creating an endless cycle that promotes dependency and marginalizes those it’s meant to help.

The concept of charity is now outdated. We shouldn’t look at community service or charitable gifts as charity work. Instead, we should move from a culture of giving and enabling to a culture of empowering. At the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, we are on a path to creating and supporting programs that promote self-efficacy.

Our Matched Savings for Education Program offers applicants the opportunity to save for education and participate in individualized financial training while receiving Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida matching dollars to cover their college tuition!

Our Kiva program for entrepreneurs gives local women-owned businesses access to the capital they need to grow and expand their business, and our ElevateHer SWFL initiative is helping raise funds for initiatives that drive lasting impact for SWFL women and girls.

How can we look beyond the Band-Aid approach? Do you think self-efficacy is important when developing charitable programs? Leave us your comment below!!

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