It’s easy to underestimate the “Power of One,” and yet history is replete with stories of individuals who have made a long-lasting impact on society. Such is the case with Donald McCormick, Dauphin County resident and president of Dauphin Deposit Bank, who established The Greater Harrisburg Foundation in 1920 to support community members intent on making a meaningful impact. McCormick’s Foundation lives on to this day as The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC), which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. TFEC accepts gifts from individuals, families, organizations and institutions. Those funds are then invested to maximize charitable contributions to the community via grants.
The Fund for Women & Girls
One of TFEC’s notable accomplishments is a fund dedicated to supporting women and girls in Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon and Perry counties and those in the Dillsburg area of northern York County.
“It started out as the Women’s Fund and this year we renamed it the Fund for Women & Girls,” said Jennifer Doyle, vice president of Philanthropy and Community Investment. Next year, the fund will be marking its 20th year as TFEC celebrates its centennial.
The Fund for Women & Girls existed as an advisory committee for the first eight years, she said. “We held events to raise awareness that the fund existed,” said Doyle.
The initial goal was to bring together 1,000 individuals who were willing to donate $1,000 to the cause, said Janice Black, President and CEO of TFEC. In 2008, TFEC began awarding grants from the Women & Girls Fund, which has proven to be successful and sustainable for nearly two decades.
Today, the fund has half a million in assets.
“Fund members are on our board, on our committees and are people who live in our counties,” Black said. “Just visit our website and you will see that we have members from all over.”
The Fund also implemented a tier system for members, who can contribute at three levels: the Dream level at $1,000, the Create level at $2,500, the Sustain level at $5,000 and the Inspire level at $10,000. To make giving more approachable, members can also pay in increments.
“Someone can give at the dream level and spread it over five years; that amounts to $16.66 a month,” said Black.
Community Investment through Competitive Grants
Over the years, the Fund for Women & Girls has awarded approximately $168,714 in competitive grants to non-profit organizations.
“We try not to become a sustaining source of funding,” Black said. “What we aim to do is to build the capacity of the nonprofits, or enable them to pilot something new, or expand their programs with the idea that they will be able to maintain that expansion after the grant ends.”
Organizations can request up to $5,000. Grants are for one year and applications are available on the TFEC website beginning in April, with a deadline of August 1. A committee of seven is convened annually to determine who receives grants.
“We have two staff members and five people in the community from various walks of life who review the grants,” said Black, adding that next year will be exceptional. “Each year, we award up to $5,000 to various organizations for a total of $25,000, on average. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Fund for Women & Girls and the 100th Anniversary of TFEC, we will be awarding $100,000 in grants.”
Organizations that have benefited from grants from the Women and Girl’s Fund have been dedicated to causes such as domestic violence, sexual assault counseling, teen mentoring, rental assistance, shelter services, self-sufficiency programs, bullying prevention, STEM programs and self-empowerment programs to address the root causes of homelessness, to name just a few.
Ann Carney, finance coordinator of Carlisle-based Community CARES, said grants from the fund helped defray the costs of the resource center.
“We partner with churches to provide family shelter 365 days a year,” she said. “During the day we transport families to our resource center where they can shower, make phone calls, do their laundry and things like that.”
The Fund also helped the Mechanicsburg-based Healthy Steps Diaper Bank provide free diapers to low-income families to supplement what they are able to provide for themselves. Last year, the Bank served 1,400 children.
Executive Director Amanda Barnes said the mission of her organization is for children to be clean, dry and healthy.
“Diapers are a critical piece for a family,” she said. “Did you know that to drop a child off at daycare you need 15 diapers? This helps the moms make a living and reduces stress on the mother and child. We appreciate the assistance we receive from the Fund for Women and Girls and the other grants TFEC helps coordinate.”
Each year, The Fund for Women & Girls hosts two fundraising events. A grantee breakfast gives organizations the opportunity to spread awareness, and a popular “Power of the Purse” event raises funds and educates the public on the impact the fund has on the community.
This year’s ‘Power of the Purse’ will be held at the Sheraton.
“We will provide attendees with outcomes and statistics so that they understand how the grants benefit the community as a whole,” said Black.
Event highlights include a purse silent auction, a cash bar and a plated luncheon. Tickets are for sale at the TFEC website for $85.
For Black, who has been with TFEC since 1994, it’s been gratifying to watch the organization and the Fund for Women & Girls grow and lend a hand up to organizations striving to strengthen the local community.
“It’s been a pleasure to be part of an organization and a community that is dedicated to affecting positive change in the region and I hope the next 100 years will be just as successful,” said Black.