Empowering Women:
The Success of the WLW Campaign

After years of hosting successful annual fundraising events, including Women of Initiative and Power of the Purse, The Women’s Foundation of Collier County (WFCC) Board Members began considering how to build an endowment, a long-standing goal.

The Women Lifting Women (WLW) campaign was born from numerous discussions and strategic planning sessions. While continuing to raise funds for programs that address two key groups served by the WFCC—at-risk senior women and young women and girls—a portion of each donation through the WLW initiative is now dedicated to a WFCC endowment fund to provide more stable, long-term program funding.

The WLW Leadership Cabinet Member and WFCC Board Development Chair, Trisha Hare, says the goal is to have a greater impact. “When grants and scholarships are small, it is difficult to prove impact,” said Hare. “In order to provide larger grants to women and girls, we had to raise more funds annually. At the same time, creating an endowment was critical to building a stable funding source for the future.”

Hare said that several things are happening simultaneously to increase WFCC fundraising. Donor impact stories are being collected and shared with donors and prospective donors; WFCC loyal donors are asked to help introduce WFCC to their network to expand the base of giving; and estate planners are educated on the benefits for their clients of including WFCC in their wills and other future estate plans.

In addition to the highly successful annual Women Rock Philanthropy event, smaller events have nurtured a new group of prospective donors. One model for fundraising, “Gather for Good,” is a lunch, dinner, or evening reception with a leader who can draw on an extensive network of business and personal contacts. The first such event was held at Marissa Collections and raised $161,065. A recent lunch at Sea Salt, hosted by Women Lifting Women Honorary Chair Elizabeth Star and Leadership Cabinet Member and restaurateur Ingrid Aielli, raised $144,851. This event led to the achievement of the first benchmark goal of the WLW campaign: $1,089,500!

“I am so grateful and inspired to see the outpouring of support in such a short amount of time to help give senior homeless women a place to call home,” said Star. “We have had a successful beginning and now we have additional knowledge and experience to build upon. Together, we can continue to provide a safety net for all women and girls in Collier County.”

A key aspect of the success of WLW is to focus on the stories of women whose lives have been changed by the campaign. “The stories are the driving force behind this movement. It is so meaningful to see the faces that connect with compelling stories of impact and testimonials directly from those who have been served, such as a previously homeless senior woman who now has housing, thanks to support from the Women’s Foundation,” said Lori Fowler, incoming WFCC Board Development Chair.

A $30,000 grant from the WFCC is now helping to unite organizations for the vital work of re-housing senior women and providing wrap-around services to support them as they aspire to achieve a stable, safe, and healthy life. These organizations include St. Matthew’s House, Baker Senior Center Naples, Collier Resource Center, and the Hunger & Homeless Coalition of Collier County.

“In an area already struggling with rising housing costs, Hurricane Ian brought a tidal wave of homeless issues,” said Mitch Watson, Coordinated Services Director of the Hunger and Homeless Coalition. “We’ve already spent about half of the generous grant from the Women’s Foundation working to re-house three senior women previously living on the streets, in cars or in shelters. We’re receiving referrals daily and trying to be there for each woman who needs housing and other services.”

Middle School Girls in Immokalee Supported by WFCC Grant

A $50,000 grant from WFCC to The Immokalee Foundation is supporting the Middle School Girls Career Pathways program, which introduces career choices to Immokalee’s girls. The girls come from families experiencing limited options, making this program especially important to helping them escape intergenerational poverty. Through this career choices program, girls are empowered to imagine a different future and to make the right choices to achieve it.

WFCC Scholarships Support At-risk Young Women and Nontraditional Adult Women Students

With additional funding available through the Women Lifting Women (WLW) campaign, scholarships will be made available to women who face obstacles to completing or continuing their education with the ultimate goal of securing fulfilling jobs that offer life-sustaining pay and benefits. Currently, $30,000 in scholarships is earmarked annually. Increased scholarship funding will support more women for childcare, transportation, tuition, and other financial burdens women face trying to provide a safe and healthy environment for their families while they continue their education.

Three Pillars of Women Lifting Women


Goal: Meet current critical needs of senior women


  • Provide funding for homeless programs that identify and assist housing senior women in need
  • Address isolation issues and provide support for caregivers


Goal: Empower young women and girls to meet their full  potential


  • Offer advanced scholarships
  • Provide support for mentorships and career development programs


Goal: Raise funds to support the needs of women and girls in our community in perpetuity


  • Raise $1,089,500 for the three pillars in year one and continue to set new goals for annual support
  • Increase the WFCC Endowment Fund to $5,000,000


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