Foundation helps women break glass ceiling | AspenTimes.com

Foundation helps women break glass ceiling

Charles Agar

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN With a $7,000 salary deficit between men and women in Pitkin County, a state foundation hopes to even things out with donations to area women’s agencies.The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) awarded the Aspen Youth Center’s annual “Girls to Women, Women to Girls” conference $2,500 and gave $5,000 to an economic self-sufficiency program at RESPONSE, a help center for battered women.”This is helping us to keep this program going,” said Peg McGavock, executive director of RESPONSE. While the 23-year-old agency runs on money from local and federal government grants, funding for the financial empowerment program is limited and the $5,000 is vital, she said.”We requested funding from the foundation,” McGavock said, and won it. “It’s important for this particular program, because some of our other funding sources would not fund that program.”The course, which will start in February, will be held one night each week for two and a half hours and is open to all women. “What makes this program unique is that after hearing a speaker, women break out into smaller groups and stay with those groups through the whole program and support each other,” McGavock said.The grant is an important tool in bartering for additional funds and matching grants, she added.And Aspen-area eighth-grade girls will have a chance to meet with professional women from various fields who will serve as role models thanks to a $2,500 grant from the foundation.”That covers at least half of the expenses,” said Sarah Visnic, director of the Aspen Youth Center, about the grant. The one-day conference is held each April at the center to help eighth-grade girls explore different futures and career paths.”We have over 50 local professional women that come and talk with the girls,” Visnic said. “It’s like a job fair.” There is also a “Budget your Money” program in which girls learn how much they can earn in different careers and see what they will buy them. “It’s kind of a reality check with budgeting their money.”Girls also receive advice from high school juniors about what high school is like, and they finish the day with a women’s self-defense workshop. “It’s kind of a reminder to girls on self-defense and how to be so that when they go off to college, they have a little more awareness,” Visnic said.”Supporting and uniting the organizations that help women and girls all across Colorado is our top priority,” said Gretchen McComb, president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado in a prepared statement. “By funding organizations like The Aspen Youth Center, we are addressing today’s challenges while creating advocates and champions for tomorrow.”Some 368 women in Pitkin County live in poverty, according to the 2000 Census. And, there is a significant gap in incomes – women earn an average $33,896, while men earn $7,000 more.The foundation has been funding Pitkin County agencies since 1992. “We try to give at least two grants per region,” said Roweena Naidoo, program and development associate for the Denver-based organization. To date, the foundation has invested more than $8.5 million and worked with more than 180 agencies in 75 Colorado communities to support opportunities for women and girls. For more information, visit http://www.wfco.org.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.

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