The Women's Initiative was founded in 2003 by a group of local women who wanted to provide for the needs of women and girls in Isabella County. "We learned that far too many women and girls in Isabella County were in need of serious help,” said Co-Founder Kay Smith at the time.
“We believed that it was time for women to be given the opportunity to become philanthropists on their own--not as spouses or daughters, but as independent donors,” said Co-Founder Judy Smith. And that's what happened. While the initial goal in 2003 was to raise $50,000, the group raised more than $80,000 in just the first four weeks. “When the women of Isabella County learned that other women needed their help, they came through in a big way, and they continue to do so today!" Judy added.
As an endowed fund of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation, contributions raised by the Women’s Initiative are pooled and invested. Since 2003, hundreds of women have made pledges to the Women’s Initiative Fund, and more than 2,100 individual gifts have been made. Women have given cash, appreciated stock and other assets, and often pay tribute to a friend or loved one by donating in their honor or memory. The Fund now holds nearly $400,000. Only the interest earned in the Fund is granted each year; this will allow grantmaking to community organizations benefiting women and girls, forever.
Over the last fifteen years, more than 40 grants have been awarded to organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region, Christian Counseling of Mid Michigan, Christmas Outreach, Community Compassion Network, Foster Closet of Michigan-Isabella County, Girls on the Run of Central Michigan, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, Isabella County Child Advocacy Center, Listening Ear Crisis Center, Mid Michigan College STEM Program for 8th Grade Girls, Mt. Pleasant Department of Public Safety, and Women’s Aid Service.
On Tuesday, October 16, 2018, the Women’s Initiative will highlight the most recent grants awarded from the Fund during their “Look Who’s Talking” luncheon. The event is one of two annual fundraisers hosted by the Women’s Initiative. Half the ticket price of $50 will be added to the permanent endowment fund. The luncheon will feature Mt. Pleasant native and CNN political correspondent Sara Murray. After graduating from the University of Maryland in 2007, Murray joined the Wall Street Journal where she covered politics and economics. In 2015, Murray accepted a job with CNN in Washington D.C., where she has worked as a White House Correspondent and covered the Russia investigation. Sara will share her journey from Mt. Pleasant to our nation’s capital with an audience of 400-500 event participants.
McLaren Central Michigan and Mercantile Bank of Michigan are sponsoring this year’s speaker. The luncheon will take place at the Soaring Eagle Conference Center from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Complimentary valet parking is available at the hotel entrance. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the seated event from a member of the Women’s Initiative or directly from the Community Foundation. Tables of 8-10 may be purchased for reserved seating by visiting or calling the Community Foundation. Cash and check are accepted as payment.