Programs benefiting women funded through Women’s Giving Circle
When the University of Central Arkansas was founded as Arkansas State Normal School in 1907, three women were among the first nine faculty members hired by the school. Shortly after its founding, the Crestomath Society for women was started with the charge to foster friendship among members and promote the fledgling institution.
Acknowledging the historic significance women have played in this university, a group of female philanthropists started a group this year to help further efforts benefiting women on this campus.
The UCA Women’s Giving Circle celebrated its charter earlier this year with a founding group of 19, which quickly grew to 27 members. The latest membership numbers show that has grown to 36.
The charter members raised a five-year pledge total of nearly $70,000 to fund grants to campus and community programs that benefit women.
Nan Snow, a member of the UCA Foundation board, helped found the group after seeing similar groups make a difference at other institutions.
“For some time, we have been watching the development of Women’s Giving Circles on other college campuses throughout the country. UCA seemed a perfect place for such a circle to thrive and grow,” Snow said. “From the time of the school’s founding, when women were included among the first faculty, women and girls have played a significant role in all areas of campus life. This, along with the growing success of women’s philanthropy, convinced us that a UCA Women’s Giving Circle would succeed.”
Snow said that although other groups have typically started with 10 founders, she thought the UCA group should aim higher.
“We decided to double that number and seek 20 members for our first year,” she said, noting that early figures almost doubled that. “It appears the idea has struck a chord with alumnae and friends of the university. Membership in the circle provides opportunities for networking, learning more about current activities at UCA, and impacting those activities through collective giving and group decision-making.”
Circle members will have sole responsibility for allocating grant awards, which encourage unique learning and leadership opportunities. The grants will be determined by the membership through an online grant selection process. No formal meetings will be held, but awards will be announced at an annual fall event. This not only creates new giving opportunities for women, but also establishes a bond among its members through their mutual philanthropic efforts.
UCA First Lady Melissa Courtway has offered to host the annual celebration event where award recipients will be announced, as well as being a spokeswoman for the group.
“I will do anything I can to encourage young women to go to college and graduate,” she said. “The Women’s Giving Circle will open opportunities to students that have a need and help fund programs at UCA to help these young women. I am honored and excited to be on the ground floor of getting this started.”
UCA First Lady Melissa Courtway
Founding members joined for a pledge of $500 annually for five years, and anyone joining in 2014 will be considered charter members. Those who join after the inaugural year will contribute an annual $1,000 membership fee.
UCA faculty and staff may participate through a $500 annual gift, which can be given via payroll deduction.
Additionally, a junior membership of $250 annually is available for new graduates 25-35 years of age.
All contributions may be set up on a monthly installment basis if desired. Credit card payments are accepted. Men may be a part of the Circle’s mission by giving honor gifts in the names of women or women’s organizations.
Grant winners will be announced at the November 10 ceremony. Interested parties can join the Circle by going to uca.edu/giving/womens-giving-circle or by contacting Jan Davis, director of planned giving, at (501) 450-3740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.