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Strategic Action Plan

Since 2001, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio has given voice and visibility to issues that impact women and girls. As a public foundation we are a leader of social change in our community — addressing gender norms in order to create equality and to empower all women and girls to reach their full potential.

The Women’s Fund is committed to creating lasting social change in four priority areas: Gender Norms, Economic Self-Sufficiency for Women, Leadership for Women, and Lifeskills for Girls.

In the fall of 2017 our Board will come together to outline a 3-year strategic plan to take us through 2021 and our 20th anniversary. Check back for updates.


Our work is informed by these values:

We believe that positive social change will come about only when barriers of gender, class, ethnicity, race, educational background, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, and faith traditions are overcome. Participation at the broadest level is the beacon of our work.

Enduring progress will be made by focusing on assets unique to the lives and work of women and girls.  We strive to create a climate of empowerment in a community where many voices can contribute to the shaping of will and attitudes.

In our society, gender powerfully affects experience and opportunity. Through collaborations, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio will honor traditional attributes of women and girls and at the same time pave new paths.  All voices will be heard including those outside the mainstream to those silent voices within the mainstream.


The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is a public foundation whose mission is to transform the lives of women and girls by mobilizing the collective power and passion of all women working together.


A significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and cultural values and norms.

Social Change takes time, but creates a lasting impact. At The Women’s Fund we measure and evaluate our work through five shifts. These shifts represent and indicate root cause change that is happening in society.

Five Shifts in Social Change

  1. Shifts in definition: The issue is defined differently in the community or larger society.
  2. Shifts in behavior: People are behaving differently in the community or larger society.
  3. Shifts in engagement: People in the community or larger society are more engaged in your issue.
  4. Shifts in policy: An institutional, organizational, or legislative policy or practice has changed.
  5. Maintaining or holding the line: Earlier progress on the issue has been maintained in the face of opposition.

Social change begins when you decide that change is possible.

We are social change agents. Changing circumstances. Challenging roles. Raising expectations. Creating opportunities. Change is the first step toward making something better.


We create gender equality and influence in the community by looking through a gender lens. Our work is guided by our research, which influences our partnerships, grant making, and advocacy efforts. We promote social change by growing women’s philanthropy, and raising awareness to educate central Ohio around issues that affect women and girls. At the Women’s Fund we strive to engage all women and girls throughout central Ohio in this movement; serving Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union counties.

We are a part of a global network

Women’s funds bring together funds, grassroots organizations, donors, and the women and girls we serve. In central Ohio, we’re proud that this takes the form of several events and grant workshops.

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is 1 of 160 women’s funds connected to the Women’s Funding Network, the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls. The Women’s Funding Network supports us through innovative programs and capacity-building expertise and we support them through participation in their programming and use of their evaluation tool.



On May 4, 2000, a small group of women activists gathered on the porch of Judy Garel’s home to discuss the idea of starting a women’s fund in central Ohio. Women’s funds had been formed around the country, and Emily Rutherford had suggested the idea to Judy Garel. After a series of conversations and a survey of 500 women leaders in the community, our founders realized there was great interest in the idea, as long as funds raised were used to bolster the programs of existing organizations and didn’t cannibalize dollars already being donated.

Thirty-six donors took a leap of faith and made significant gifts in support of the brand-new organization. A mission statement was crafted: To transform the lives of women and girls by mobilizing the collective power and passion of all women working together. And a strategic plan was set forth: to encourage collaboration and cohesion among women and women’s groups; foster philanthropy by and for women and girls; and make grants to further women’s economic independence and leadership development, and build the life skills of girls and young women. The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio convened its first Board of Directors meeting in July, 2001, and opened offices in February, 2002.  

The founders of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio realized that local women needed to understand and engage in philanthropy on a more significant scale in order to make positive social change for women and girls. Over $3 million dollars has now been raised to endow the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio; 165 grants totaling nearly $2.5 million have been made to programs that promise social change for women and girls; and we are focusing more and more of our efforts on advocacy in order to leverage dollars spent on social change.