Learn about Goodwill’s Empowerment Fund on International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is a celebration of women and women's rights observed on March 8. The day highlights both the victories that the women's movement brought forth but more importantly, it's a day that brings into focus issues of gender, class and race disparities among women. There are many meaningful ways to embrace the day and support programs to help women and girls. Seattle Goodwill has recently created the Empowerment Fund to support greater equity and opportunity for women and girls by providing funding for job training and education opportunities for this historically marginalized group. Gina Hall, Director of Philanthropy for Seattle Goodwill, talked about the new fund with a member of the Goodwill team.
Q: What can you tell me about the Empowerment Fund and why is it important for Goodwill students?
Gina Hall: The Empowerment fund is an initiative to convene a group of diverse, passionate and engaged individuals who want to focus on advancing Goodwill’s mission in a compassionate way. Essentially philanthropic women and men in the Puget Sound region have come together to make a difference because they believe in the power of education and training women. This work is important because all lives matter. Women are more likely to be head of household with small children and live in poverty. Across the U.S., 15.5 percent of women live in poverty compared with 11.9 percent of men, according to a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Q: What kind of response have you received from current members of the Empowerment Fund?
Gina Hall: We currently have 15 founding members of the Empowerment Fund and the response has been incredible. Members have participated in activities ranging from career panels and mock interviews to recruitment events and Goodwill’s Annual Glitter Gala and Fashion Show.
Many individuals in our community are not aware of the breadth of Seattle Goodwill’s free Job Training and Education programs. Goodwill’s programs consist of Adult Basic Education, Sector Programs and Career Exploration. Also, all of our students have access to case management services in the five counties we serve (King, Kitsap, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom). Fifty eight percent of the individuals we serve are women. Just about everyone we introduce to our mission says they were not aware of Goodwill’s impact in this region. We want to change that!
Q: How can a Fund geared towards women’s empowerment help impact our community in a positive way?
Gina Hall: When you help the most vulnerable in our community, you strengthen the entire community. Goodwill serves anyone who walks through our doors and wants a job. The Empowerment Fund focuses on Goodwill’s female students with the goal to connect Goodwill supporters, create a mentoring resource for female students, share an inside look at our work, raise funds for Goodwill and have fun! If you’re interested in joining, you can read more details here.
Q: What is coming up for this fund?
Gina Hall: Once a year, our mission-services staff will directly share their work with Empowerment Fund members. After learning about these programs, Empowerment Fund members will pool their donations and collectively vote to direct their support to a specific program. The program that’s selected will be the Fund’s area of interest for the next 12 months. The first annual Pitch Event is scheduled for Thursday, April 18, from 6-8 pm at Seattle Goodwill. Anyone can come but only members can vote. Women have historically been a strong force behind various revolutions and movements in this world. Rosa Parks, Princes Diana of Wales and lastly Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”