The Women & Girls Fund

The Women & Girls Fund logo.

Established as a giving circle in 1999 by a small group of women who shared a concern for the real-life needs of local women and girls, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation Women and Girls Fund has grown to more than 200 supporters who help women and girls develop economic self-sufficiency by means of education, financial literacy and social services.

The Women & Girls Fund makes grants annually in support of programs and services that help women and girls develop economic self-sufficiency by means of education, financial literacy and social services. In addition to annual grants from the Women & Girls Fund, the Women & Girls Scholarship Fund: Helping our Heroes Fund supports scholarships for women enrolled in healthcare degree programs at Northwestern Connecticut Community College.

Read Essential Equity: Women, Covid-19 and Rebuilding CT (pdf) a collaboration between funders and member organizations of the Connecticut Collective for Women and Girls (CCWG) and the Connecticut Data Collaborative. The Connecticut Collective for Women and Girls is a collaborative of organizations committed to the advancement of women and girls, including those who are cisgender, transgender, and non-binary, in the state of Connecticut

Read: From Challenge to Opportunity: A Report on the Status of Women & Girls in NW CT

Explore: Recent Grants 

Read Connections, the Women & Girls Fund Newsletter 

Connections Fall 2022: Roshambo Fundraiser, Internships, Annual Meeting, Swag, Empowerment, Kathy Minck, Leave a Legacy

Connections Spring 2022: Women and girls of Ukraine, Scholarships, Healthcare, Annual Meeting, Leave a Legacy

Make a Difference for Women & Girls in Northwest CT 

Would you like to volunteer with the Women & Girls Fund? Are you a local business that would like to support women and girl through a fundraiser? Complete the Volunteer Form. We will contact you about opportunities to help women and girls in your community.

Give Online
Women & Girls Fund
Established by area civic-minded women, this endowed fund addresses challenges faced by women and girls in northwest Connecticut.

Women & Girls Scholarship Fund: Helping Our Heroes
Begun by a generous donation of $1,000 from Bibby Veerman, a friend and supporter, and in partnership with Northwestern Connecticut Community College, the Women & Girls Fund established a scholarship fund that will help women and girls who enroll in healthcare degree programs at Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NCCC). Find out more.

Make a Planned Gift
You can make the Northwest Corner a better place for Women & Girls now and far into the future. Support the Women & Girls funds through gifts of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate or cash.
Gifts can be made now, or through your estate planning. For more information, contact Bradford Hoar, VP of Philanthropic Services at or (860) 626-1245.

Past Events 

Women & Girls annual meeting was held May 12, 2022. We welcomed Professional Speaker Krista Rizzo, CPC, who discussed the importance of empowering women with her dynamic and energetic talk “We Are All Wonder Women”.

Why 2021 Will Need All the Humor You Can Provide: Laughter, Community and Strength: In an effort to keep everyone healthy, our recent events were held via Zoom. ​Gina Barreca brought down the house on March 25, 2021 with an evening of laugh-out-loud fun with Connecticut's own First Lady of Comedy. Our 2020 fall event, Sex, Suffrage and Scandal, was also held via Zoom to a large audience, an entertaining and educational, and just what was needed at this time.

If you missed it, please watch the video:

Recent Grants Supporting Women and Girls
Proving internship and mentoring programs to college age women
Mentoring college students

In 2022, The Women and Girls Fund supported Maria Seymour Brooker Memorial & New Opportunities, Inc. with a $8,057 grant to support a six-week internship and mentoring program.

Brooker Memorial and New Opportunities created a partnership to provide internship opportunities to four women who are recent college graduates or have completed their junior year of college. The interns complete a six week paid internship, working 20 hours a week at either or both organizations. The interns improve their skill sets through hands-on experience and projects, including leadership, community relations, team activities, resume assistance, mock job interviews, and networking with business and social service professionals in the community. Both organizations provide a presentation in financial literacy or work etiquette and positive work relationships, and also connect them with local employers. 

"We are confident that this experience will help them achieve their career goals. - Cathy Coyle, Maria Seymour Brooker Memorial

Aiding in the creation and facilitation of summer programs
Interns plan for summer

In 2022, The Women and Girls Fund supported Housatonic Youth Service Bureau with a $5,000 grant to support two interns to work with clinical staff to create and facilitate summer programs.

The interns coordinate with the clinical staff at HYSB and identify specific needs within the community as well as within certain populations. For example, the clinical staff may have data that shows females in grades 5-6 are seeking the most support. It would be the job of the intern to then translate that data into a meaningful weeklong summer series program.

All of the summer series programs are supervised by an HYSB clinician, but with the addition of 2 interns, it will allow us to create more robust programs and increase the variety of what we are offering to safely engage with as many young people as possible. - Kelly Parker, Housatonic Youth Service Bureau

Easing childcare costs for nursing students
Child care for nursing students

In 2021, The Women and Girls Fund supported Northwestern Connecticut Community College with a $6,000 grant to support the cost of childcare for women enrolled in certificate or degree programs.

On average, courses are 60 hours in length. The minimum hourly rate for Individual childcare (sitter in home) is $10/hr. Unless a child is already enrolled in a childcare facility, individual childcare is likely to be the mode used by students because of the short-term nature of their courses. The school plans to serve eight women using the grant.

Offering childcare assistance to mothers taking classes at NCCC will be a giant step in an effort to promote women’s education and career readiness. - Erin Kennedy, Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Helping nursing students succeed
Nursing exam fees

In 2020, The Women and Girls Fund supported Northwestern Connecticut Community College with a $2,240 grant to support the cost of an online review class for 32 students taking the registered nurse licensing exam.

Once students complete an 18-month program of study they are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) This is a high-stakes exam which earns students their license to practice as a registered nurse. Preparation for this exam is crucial and students typically complete a review course to help them pass the exam successfully.

Never has there been a time in our society when it has been more crucial to support the entry of safe, competent nurses into the healthcare workforce. - Connie Hotchkiss, Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Providing emergency gap funding for child care costs
Child care costs

In 2020, The Women and Girls Fund supported Canaan Child Care Center with a $2,500 grant to support emergency gap funding for child care costs.

The grant provides scholarship to mothers in danger of losing childcare. Families can apply to determine if a $500 scholarship would suffice in solving a temporary situation so childcare would not be in jeopardy.

This grant can keep women in the workplace, feeling confident about providing for their family and know that their child is in a Child Care Center where their child is safe, healthy and happy. - Frances Chapell, Canaan Child Care Center

Advocating for and empowering women and girls
CT Collective For Women & Girls

In 2019, The Women and Girls Fund supported CT Women's Education and Legal Fund with a $1,000 grant to support the work of the Connecticut Collective for Women & Girls.

The purpose of this network is to deepen support within the participating organizations to raise the visibility of issues that affect women and girls and the aid in the advancement of women and girls throughout the state.

Over the past year the Collective evolved into an official network with the potential to organize statewide support around issues that affect women and girls while providing opportunities for...organizations and individuals that are committed to gender equity. - Kate Farrar, CWEALF

Improving career preparation and financial control
Girls & Women in Manufacturing

In 2019, The Women and Girls Fund supported Northwestern Connecticut Community College with a $4,275 grant to support the Girls and Women in Manufacturing, a program that includes manufacturing, and financial literacy courses.

The Girls and Women in Manufacturing Program provides graduating high school girls and unemployed/under-employed women with the skills they need to enter the manufacturing workforce. They earn industry recognized credentials, in addition to college credit which can be applied to the manufacturing degree. Students will interact with industry representatives (some of whom will be involved in teaching the courses), do industry visits, and have the opprotunity to job shadow. Students also co-enroll in a non-credit career readiness and financial literacy course to improve their knowledge of career preparation and financial control of their resources.

Supporting girls and women in technical careers increases their economic status, supports the local economy, and helps grow vibrant communities that attract and keeps young workers. - Sharon Gusky, Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Gaining Financial Literacy
Money Smart

In 2018, The Women and Girls Fund supported Family Strides with a $3,000 grant to support a series of financial education workshops for at-risk, low-income mothers.

Utilizing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Money Smart Curriculum, the program helps individuals build financial knowledge, develop financial confidence, become more money-savvy, and use banking services effectively. The Money Smart modules provide participants with the knowledge and resources they need to use the services and products of financial institutions effectively, create and implement a spending plan, use credit and borrow money responsibly, protect their financial rights, safeguard their money and determine their readiness to buy a home.

Women will increase their knowledge of credit and banking services and will be more likely to make informed decisions on money matters, save money, and improve their financial health and well being for themselves and their families. - Nicole Kilduff, Family Strides

Helping in Recovery
Hanson House Resiliency Group

In 2018, The Women and Girls Fund supported the McCall Center for Behavioral Health with a $2,400 grant to support the Hanson House Resiliency Group.

One of McCall’s newest programs, the Hanson House is long-term residential program for women recovering from substance use that focuses on clinical support and holistic treatment in a home-like setting. The Resiliency Group for the Hanson House women holds weekly sessions dedicated to life skills, financial literacy, and employment support as well as empowering the women involved and providing additional clinical support.

The program consists of two sessions. The first focuses on important life skills such as resume writing, job searching, financial planning and continuing education. The second session uses the research based curriculum, Women’s Circle, which takes a strengths-based approach to empowering women. Programs include “Identity – Who Am I,” which focuses on women’s self-discovery and the importance of one’s place in family, community, and culture, “Relationships,” which explores working and professional relationships, family and friendships, as well as competition and community, and “Being a Well Woman,” which focuses on holistic health and wellness using a variety of creative processes such as collage, games, surveys, case studies, and analysis along with guided visualization, stress relief and inspirational role models to explore self-care and how to support one another.

Because of the unique challenges women in recovery face, the Hanson House program focuses on the central role that relationships with children, intimate partners and others play in women's recovery. - Sara Osborne, McCall Center for Behavioral Health

Empowering Girls
Be All You Can Be

In 2017, The Women and Girls Fund supported the Bakerville Library with a $1,650 grant to support the day-long conference Be All You Can Be.

Co-hosted by the Pleasant Meadow Girl Scouts, the conference is designed to encourage girls to think about their plans for the future and to have a better understanding of the opportunities available to them after middle school and high school through speakers who have contributed to the advancement of women in a variety of careers including in the science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). Break out groups and the closing session focus on identifying strengths and interests as well as goal setting so the girls will feel empowered and confident enough to follow any career path they are interested in.

Girls will leave with ideas and plans for their future education and career. - Kathy Kinane, Bakerville Library

Learning New Skills Together
Mother/Daughter ESL

In 2017, The Women and Girls Fund supported the Winsted branch of the Northwest Connecticut YMCA with a $750 grant to support the purchase of educational software and textbooks for a mother/daughter English-as a-second-language program

The program, open to mothers and daughters in Litchfield County whose primary language is not English, will assist mothers and daughters to support each other in acquiring the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills necessary to attain further education, learning, or employment. Staffed by literacy volunteers, the center provides one on one and small group tutoring services to mothers and daughters without charge. With the incorporation of technology into the literacy program, the students will not only gain literacy skills, but also learn basic computer skills while using the laptop computers. Through this literacy program, mothers and daughters learn to communicate and learn in different ways, and improve a range of skills from social to critical thinking and analysis, affording them greater economic opportunities in their futures.

Through the Mother/Daughter ESL program, we are empowering women to connect to their communities and better meet the challenges of the broader world. - Greg Brisco, Northwest Connecticut YMCA

Identifying Goals

In 2016, The Women & Girls Fund supported New Opportunities Inc. with a $2,500 grant to support a full-day workshop for the Latina Women’s Association. Women and girls from the Association attended the workshop, which focused on identifying personal interests and goals, and exploring the education, financial planning, and employment needed to accomplish them.

Building Life Skills
Moxie for Teens

In 2014, The Women and Girls Fund supported Moxie for Teens! at Explorations Charter School in Winsted with two grants, a $1500 grant to support the program and a $361 grant for program supplies.

Through the program, life coaches work with teenage girls for several weeks to help them develop improved self-esteem and develop leadership skills as well as examine how girls make choices, communicate, define their value and develop their presence.

"Moxie for Teens" will work with girls to help them build the life skills and responsibility qualities that lead to success –  Ginnie Block, Explorations Charter School

Healing Mothers and Daughters
Art Therapy for Mothers and Daughters

In 2014, The Women and Girls Fund supported the Art Therapy for Mothers and Daughters program at the McCall Foundation with a $1,500 grant.

The ten week program focuses on restoring healthy relationships among mothers and daughters, defining roles within the family, strengthening bonds, promoting leadership qualities, and modeling positive and healthy female roles and relationships for women and girls who have experienced neglect and abuse. 

"Mother-daughter dyads build communications skills, strengthen bonds, and decrease incidents of abuse and neglect, " Jessica Wright, The McCall Foundation Inc.  

Contact your Community Foundation staff at: (860) 626-1245 to discuss your charitable giving options and goals.