Spotlight Awards - Celebrating Community Transformation
Our affiliates are changing the face of philanthropy by practicing high impact, transformational grantmaking. At each conference, Philanos celebrates these women-powered philanthropic efforts with the Spotlight Awards. This recognition highlights grants that demonstrate the ripple effect of impact investing in our community nonprofits: grants that have transformed their grantmaking organization, a grantee's organization and/or their community. All affiliates are invited to nominate one of their own grants. All awardees are featured in Philanos media.
In May 2012, the Women’s Impact Fund made a $90,000 grant to the Levine Museum of the New South for their Latino New South endeavor. Launched in January 2012, Latino New South responded to the Museum’s desire to acknowledge and share more stories from the rapidly growing Latinx population in the American South.
With the help of the Women’s Impact Fund grant, the Museum hired a project coordinator from the Latinx community to conduct listening sessions in Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Birmingham, AL, where they asked one core question: “Will our cities be welcoming places, creatively involving newcomers, or will our communities fragment?” From these listening sessions, the Museum developed a set of core observations to strengthen their engagement with the Latinx community, and put together the ¡NUEVOlution! exhibition, which unveiled the difficulties in the path to citizenship, explored our dependence upon immigrant labor, and highlighted real stories of Dreamers and their families.
The Latino New South project changed the core of the Levine Museum’s strategy and resulted in many positive, community building initiatives. They expanded their membership policy to include extended family members, began welcoming visitors in both Spanish and English, and increased the inventory of Spanish books in their store. They also started to host naturalization ceremonies and cultural events in Charlotte. As US Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity has been on the rise in Charlotte, the Museum has also convened a community event with the Latinx community with the goal of providing tangible takeaways to build a more equitable and safe Charlotte.
Women’s Impact Fund claims they were only the seed in this transformation. However, according to Levine Museum Director Kathryn Hill, the grant made Women’s Impact Fund “a unique, valuable partner in the Latino New South endeavor. Ultimately, because our museum could hire an additional staff member, we were able to take a lead role in this collaborative effort with other museums and forge enduring relationships with Latinx communities throughout the city.”
In 2015, Impact 100 Cincinnati granted $101,000 to May We Help to outfit a dedicated workshop with specialized, high-quality tools and collaborative spaces so that life-changing devices could be built for people with special needs. May We Help is a unique organization which uses the skills of many volunteer engineers, industrial designers, inventors, artisan, and physical therapists to create customized assistive devices to enable individuals with special needs to achieve independence and pursue their passions.
With the help of the Impact 100 Cincinnati grant, May We Help created a new workshop that provided extensive technical capabilities, enabling volunteers to complete more challenging projects, increase volumes, and raise quality. The common space also encouraged creative interaction, relationship building, and collaborative problem-solving, and became a selling point for new volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors, and community partners.
In addition to providing solutions for 348 individuals across 26 states and 20 partner agencies like the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Cincinnati Zoo, the grant gave a platform to present people with disabilities as capable individuals with the talents and relationships to advocate for greater opportunities and resources. The new workshop space allowed May We Help to host a wide range of activities throughout the year, including open houses and workshop events, inclusive Halloween parties, and fundraising galas. Natural outcomes of these exchanges are education, understanding, and friendships.
The grant also transformed the Impact 100 Cincinnati membership, as they’ve become enthusiastic supporters of May We Help and their clients. One Impact 100 Cincinnati member currently serves on the May We Help Board, and many others have offered pro-bono assistance and donations to support the organization. Collectively, the members’ advocacy and networks have formed an ever-multiplying group of allies, helping to create space and opportunity for individuals with disabilities to develop and share their gifts with society.