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2020 Grant Partner Spotlight Series: Part 3

May 22, 2020

Our collective power creates social change that transforms the lives of women and girls. We invest in building the capacity of our grant partners who make long-lasting change a reality. Through our weekly Grant Partner Spotlight series, we’re proud to share with you the tremendous work they’re doing.
 
Featured in this edition: the US Together builds community online for New American girls, LEAD Ohio trains political candidates and leaders virtually, and HelpLine of Delaware & Morrow Counties shares how their program participants are getting a lesson in women’s leadership through the pandemic. 

US Together

Guided by humanitarian and human rights values, US Together assists refugees and immigrants escaping wars, violence, tyranny, and extreme poverty to find a safe haven in Ohio. The organization does this by: facilitating refugee and immigrant resettlement and social, civic, and economic integration through client-centered and culturally appropriate services; advocating on their behalf; and helping them build vibrant communities.

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio funds the US Together’s New American Girls Leadership program that creates social change by educating immigrant and non-immigrant teenage girls about civics, women’s suffrage, and advocacy in order to increase their civic education and engagement. As programming set to begin in schools has been postponed, US Together shares how they have moved to building community virtually:

“US Together is persisting through school closures. We continue to recruit girls for the program from the communities we serve and hold discussions for current participants using Facebook. Participants in the program are from Columbus City Schools and from outer districts, such as Hilliard. They are getting to know each other and finding common ground between them even though they may not know each other personally. We’re grateful to facilitate the broadening of their network. We’re also hosting live speakers to talk with the girls about topics such as future planning and college costs, as well as feature immigrant women who are in college or professional careers in order to expose them to others that share a similar background and have overcame some of the barriers they currently face.” -Christine Garcia, Director of Programs

In addition to the wide programming offered by US Together, they have also quickly responded to meet the needs of the New American community through the coronavirus pandemic by:

-Relaying safe practices and information regarding COVID-19 to clients to ensure they have the most reliable and up-to-date information;
-Advocating to provide Spanish translation for Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton’s press conferences; 
-Compiling resources from social service agencies and providing multilingual fact sheets and government orders; and,
-Partnering with the City of Columbus and Franklin County to make sure hard to count populations are reached for the 2020 Census by providing a database of multilingual Census resources in languages spoken by refugee and immigrant communities in central Ohio. 

LEAD Ohio

LEAD Ohio recruits, trains, supports, and empowers leaders in all regions of Ohio. The Women’s Fund fuels Women LEADing Ohio, a program that helps to identify, train, and support women who are actively working to elect more women to government offices in central Ohio, whether they are working for a candidate or are themselves a candidate.

LEAD Ohio creates social change by increasing the number of women in the political process in Ohio, ensuring that the needs and voices of women and families are represented in our government.

Photo: Women LEADing Ohio workshop at The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio in 2018
LEAD Ohio typically hosts in-person programming, including Women LEADing Ohio, but they have quickly adapted to provide online training and content so that women can still continue learning and improving their civic and political skills at home. 

LEAD Ohio designed their first series around often overlooked topics, like the use of social media in campaigns and for activism, an introduction to organized labor in America, and how to effectively use “old school” media like direct mail and radio, especially during COVID-19. 

Elections will still happen and now, more than ever, LEAD Ohio sees the need for empathetic, bright, and skilled governmental leaders helping to guide Ohio and the country through this crisis. They offer advice for women considering running for office:

“Run!  Anytime a woman has reservations about running for office or thinks she couldn’t possibly handle it or she doesn’t have the experience, I ask her to take a look at the elected officials currently in office and how they got into those offices. We need talented, determined women to step up because as women, if we don’t have a seat at the table, then we’re on the menu. There are programs like Women LEADing Ohio that can help to train you in the fundamentals of figuring out what offices are available to run for and how to mount a well-run campaign. We’ll be there to help support you through the election and beyond.” – Louise Valentine, Deputy Director


HelpLine of Delaware & Morrow Counties

HelpLine of Delaware & Morrow Counties supports and strengthens the emotional health and wellness of the community through empowerment, education, and connection. The Women’s Fund funds HelpLine’s Thank Goodness I’m Female (TGIF) Leadership Cohort, a skill-building leadership group for high school girls to develop, cultivate, and implement skills to lead and inspire others to action toward common goals by engaging with diverse central Ohio adult mentors and experts.

The TGIF Leadership Cohort creates social change by disrupting rigid gender norms that can have a long-lasting, negative impact on women’s ability to access leadership positions and advocate in the workplace. As girls become equipped with leadership skills, they can serve as role models for their peers and build confidence to continue leading into adulthood. HelpLine shares how they have been able to continue programming virtually and how program participants are learning from women leading us through this crisis. 

“We modified our cohort curriculum to highlight and discuss current leadership examples. Additionally, our cohort has been able to recognize and admire women leaders all over the globe. We met virtually to discuss the different leadership examples they may have seen at the community, state, and federal levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Amy Acton’s undeniable leadership came up in our conversations, and as a cohort, we noted how Dr. Acton often uses “we” and speaks in a calm manner to not cause alarm. Additionally, participants recognized the strength in her candor, ability, and willingness to lead.” -Louise Valentine, Deputy Director

The TGIF Leadership Cohort was able to meet and bond in person before moving to virtual meetings in March. After regular meetings on Zoom, the girls started to experience burnout from increased screen time. HelpLine decided to provide a virtual meeting space and opportunity different from their online school requirements,
including a yoga session.
Additionally, HelpLine is currently creating relevant and timely care packages to send to cohort participants. Care packages include mindfulness books with activities, a book with ideas for civic and community engagement, a journal for their own personal use, coloring pages, and colored pencils, the girls’ favorite recipes, and lots of candy!

Words of encouragement for young leaders from HelpLine: “We think it’s important for young girls and women to trust in themselves and in their abilities. It’s also important to recognize that we can do the hard things and persevere. Lend kindness, ask for help, be gentle with yourself, get plenty of sleep, and breathe.”