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Human Trafficking Symposium set for Jan. 14 at FGCU

Human Trafficking Symposium set for Jan. 14 at FGCU

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida and the Regional Resource Center on Human Trafficking present the first annual Human Trafficking Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Cohen Ballroom at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Community leaders and professionals in law enforcement, social services, health care, education and community organizations are encouraged to attend the inaugural symposium by registering at!symposium/cqki. The event is $25 per person and students are admitted at no charge.

The keynote speaker is Bradley Myles, currently serving as the Polaris Project/National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s Executive Director and CEO. He has been working on combating the issue of human trafficking since 2002, and he is regarded as one of the leading advocates in the anti-trafficking arena. Mr. Myles plays an instrumental role in building Polaris Project’s national programs focused on systemic change in the areas of human trafficking policy advocacy, training, and capacity-building.

“The Human Trafficking Symposium is more than just a conference,” said Brenda Tate, president of the Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida. “It’s a movement to inform, motivate and energize our regional leaders behind concrete action to address human trafficking.”

According to statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHRTC), one in three runaways is exploited for sex trafficking or pornography. NHRTC data indicates that 84 percent of human trafficking inquiries from Southwest Florida concern women and children, and 66 percent of human trafficking inquiries to NHTRC from Southwest Florida concern sex trafficking. If you suspect human trafficking or you are a victim in need of, call 1-888-373-7888 for information or help or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233722).


PopUp Raises $5,800 for Women Build


BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. Apr. 7, 2015 – Fans of the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida and Habitat for Humanity attending the April 4 spring training game at Hammond Stadium. The supporters raised $2,900 that was matched by the Women’s Foundation for a total PopUp™ Grant of $5,800.
“We were thrilled by the turnout and support that came inform generous donors to support Women Build. Our sponsors like Lee County Parks & Recreation and GCG Construction are essential for building awareness and maximizing the impact of PopUp™ events to benefit women and girls,” said Brenda Tate, president of The Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida. “PopUps™ are a great platform for philanthropy that engages the community in a really fun way.”

“Poverty housing is a severe threat to children’s health, growth and potential. Women Build galvanizes women to give a hand up to other women, by raising funds and then working to rehab existing homes. Volunteers learn new skills while enjoying the camaraderie of friends and new acquaintances. The $5,800 PopUp™ Grant will help provide homes for two families to build brighter futures,” said Habitat for Humanity President Kitty Green.

About PopUps™
PopUps™, which stands for Philanthropy on Purpose Uniting People Spontaneously™, are fundraising events that are open to the public and hosted at a variety of Southwest Florida venues such as restaurants, businesses, and area attractions. PopUps™ raise funds for nonprofit organizations that directly benefit women and girls. PopUp™ grants and PopUp™ events supported by a group of young community leaders dedicated to furthering the mission of the Women’s Foundation and expanding the organization’s impact through more frequent grant-making in the community. PopUps™ will follow the Women’s Foundation’s proactive grant making approach of identifying organizations or programs reflecting the Women’s Foundation’s mission in Southwest Florida. PopUp™ crowd-funding parties can take place anytime and anywhere.


The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida grants $1,000 to Wings of Shelter Scholarship

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida grants $1,000 to Wings of Shelter Scholarship

The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida will add $1,000 to the Wings of Shelter Scholarship at the FGCU Foundation. The grant was made possible by ticket proceeds and sponsor support from the recent Human Trafficking Symposium held at Florida Gulf Coast University.

According to Sally and Lowell Senitz, Founders of Wings of Shelter and the scholarship, “It is our desire to see that children rescued out of child sex trafficking can have the advantage to benefit from this fund to assist with their opportunity to attend college, Florida Gulf Coast University, the first University in the State of Florida with this scholarship, offers the opportunity for these brave “overcomers” that have strived so highly to be able to attend the University and to have the strong desire to obtain a good future and make a difference in their communities within Florida.”

“Often victims do not have an opportunity to continue their education that may have been disrupted due to enslavement. This scholarship is one element of an essential support system to guide victims from surviving to thriving,” according to Brenda Tate, President of The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida. “We value our working relationship with Wings of Shelter, FGCU’s Foundation and Regional Resource Center on Human Trafficking, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Regional Task Force on Human Trafficking. Our partners are moving the region forward toward the demise of human trafficking.”

“The FGCU Foundation is privileged to work with the Wings of Shelter in providing scholarship assistance to the victims of this horrible crime. We are grateful to The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida for contributing to this fund and setting an example for others to expand the scope of possibilities in helping these young people,” states Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation’s Bill Rice.

Sponsors supporting the Human Trafficking symposium, and helping to make the scholarship contribution possible, include Naples United Church of Christ, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, NCH Health Care System, Collier County Community Foundation, and Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva. Media support was provided by Life in Naples, WGCU Public Media and NBC2.

About The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida
The Women’s Fund is the only non-profit in Southwest Florida focused exclusively on women and girls and was the first to publish academic research assessing the status of women in the area. Signature programs include (1) stopping the sale of our children for sex and (2) economic security for women. The Board of Directors will build a $5 million endowed organization dedicated to the advancement of women and girls in Southwest Florida by 2020. With this sustained funding source, The Women’s Fund of Southwest Florida will make significant and sustainable investments in collaborative partnerships, create and fund innovative solutions to complex problems and deliver measurable impact. For more information visit or email Follow The Women’s Fund online at and on


Status of Women : Florida Earns D

What happened when you came home from school with a low grade on your report card? Many of us experienced a team of nurturing parents, teachers, and tutors supporting us to get our grades back on track. Everyone assured us we could do better if we tried a little harder, even if we delayed the inevitable by hiding our report card in the freezer like Beverly Cleary’s beloved 8-year-old fictional character, Ramona Quimby.

The Status of Women in the States 2015 was just released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The report analyzes data related to women’s population, diversity, achievement, autonomy, employment, income, health and well-being. Florida received a disappointing D.
Very concerning is that Florida ranks almost last in the labor force participation rate for women and ranks last of all the states for percentage of women with health insurance.

At The Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, we feel like a very concerned and nurturing parent when presented with this report card on the status of women in Florida. I know we can do better to improve the status of Florida’s women and girls.

Did you know in Southwest Florida?

-85 percent of the women earn less than $50,000
-Women own only 26 percent of all businesses
-Less than 10 percent of corporate board positions are held by women
-Southwest Florida is not represented by a woman in the U.S. Congress
-Almost 50 percent of female-headed families with children under five live in poverty
-Less than 14 percent of women ages 25-34 years have earned a bachelor’s degree
-Over 65 percent of the calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center are about sex
trafficking and over 80 percent of those involve women and children?

While many of us have an understanding of the uneven educational, social and economic playing field facing women and girls living in developing nations, far fewer of us have internalized the knowledge that gender inequality is alive and well in our own backyards.

We must learn more to formulate strategies for the allocation of resources for women and girls. Some improvements will be relatively straight forward, like seeing more qualified women holding elected and appointed policy positions in Florida. Other improvements are more complex, like evaluating the economic impact of girls having babies before completing their education and likely facing a lifetime of poverty. And what about the significant number of Florida’s women over 65 living in poverty, much higher than the national average, without access to adequate health care?

Reports like the Status of Women 2015 are effective tools to inform and influence public dialogue and policy of the issues facing women in our community, reaffirming the work that needs to be done.

The Women’s Foundation works locally and within the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network, to support current best practices, identify gaps and shifting needs of women in our Southwest Florida communities and beyond.

To help, join The Women’s Foundation SMART Party 2.0 on Thursday, June 18 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Richlin International showrooms at Miromar Design Center, 10800 Corkscrew Rd. in Estero. This tech-driven event is designed to raise funds to address needs of women and girls in SWFL. For more information, visit

Let’s not hide this disappointing report card in the freezer like Ramona. It’s time to activate nurturing and pro-active teams who know that Florida can do better. Together we can provide the resources and support to move that grade from a D to an A+.

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Why Give?

Women make up over half the workforce, direct 85 percent of all consumer spending decisions and control 56 percent of our economy.

At the Women’s Foundation, we’re leveraging our economic power to invest in the future of women and girls.