Studies have shown that improving the status of women and girls helps the entire community thrive and grow, says Jan Hendrickson. That’s why her organization, Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis, strives to research, identify and fill gaps in funding for education, outreach and services for at-risk women and girls.
The foundation, which awarded $50,000 in grants to a dozen organizations last year, supports nonprofits that focus on education and professional development for women and girls, domestic violence prevention and services for formerly incarcerated women. Recent grant recipients have included Girls on the Run, Haven of Grace, Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Program, Legal Advocates for Abused Women, Lydia’s House, Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, Women in Charge and The Women’s Safe House. “Less than 10 percent of nonprofits support programs for women and girls; and of all the dollars that are given, it is still much less than needed,” Hendrickson says.
In an effort to change those statistics, the Women's Foundation of Greater St. Louis will hold a fundraiser, Making a Difference: Moving Forward, Moving Up, on Nov. 21 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac. The gala will spotlight two of the city’s most influential women: Pam Nicholson and Beth Fitzgerald.
Nicholson will speak about breaking through the glass ceiling on the way to her current position as the first woman and first person outside of the Taylor family to lead Enterprise Holdings, the largest privately held company in St. Louis. “She is regularly recognized as one of Forbes’ most powerful women, and she is continually dedicated to helping women not only in the workforce, but also in the community through her nonprofit work,” Hendrickson notes.
Also at the gala, Fitzgerald, executive director of The Magic House, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. “She is another example of a woman who has reached the pinnacle of her chosen career,” Hendrickson says. The event theme, Moving Forward, Moving Up, aims to inspire women and girls to recognize their abilities, reach for their dreams and fulfill their visions, she adds.
Hendrickson personally was inspired to join the organization after attending one of its many symposiums to benefit women’s education and professional development. “The event focused on early childhood education…since quality childcare is a difficulty for most mothers at some point in their child's life and early childhood education is so important for kids,” she explains. “I wanted to support that movement of having women come together in order to improve the community.”
Part of the worldwide Women’s Funding Network, the foundation continually works to diversify its members in order to make the biggest impact throughout the community, Hendrickson says. “We are interested in having people all over society look at this problem of how women and girls sometimes face obstacles in our society on the way to their goals. Collectively, we really can make a difference.”