Just over two years ago an all-new, South Shore-based nonprofit opened its doors to collectively raise and grant money to other Tahoe organizations. Known as the Tahoe Women's Community Fund, the founding members — all women — formed the nonprofit after observing the success of a similar El Dorado County-based organization.
TWCF runs somewhat differently than other nonprofits found locally: The organization is focused on collective giving to the community through an annual grant-making process, which, according to founding cabinet member Jamie Orr, is set up in a GoFundMe-style pool. Members' contributions go towards grant funds, which are then dispersed to other South Shore nonprofits in need of funding.
The process of choosing beneficiaries is a simple one. At the start of each year, members vote for "Areas of Need" within the community (such as Poverty & Housing and Children & Youth, among others). Once the cabinet reviews the votes, the top five Areas of Need are announced and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are released. When the application period closes, the TWCF Grant Committee meets to review the submissions and all TWCF members vote for recipients in mid-March before winners are announced in April.
This year's determined Areas of Need are Poverty & Housing, Children & Youth, Mental Health & Wellness, Education & Literacy and Community & Environment. RFPs became available on Thursday, Feb. 1, and nonprofits may submit applications through 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26.
But what makes the 2018 grant cycle different than years past is that funding has doubled in comparison to the cycles of 2016 and 2017.
"This year we're giving out $68,000, whereas last year was around $29,000. We've more than doubled largely thanks to Lisa Maloff's matching of all the memberships this year," Orr noted. "We're really excited to be giving this much."
Multiple Tahoe-based nonprofits will benefit from the total sum of $68,000. The top two Areas of Need — Poverty & Housing and Children & Youth — will be rewarded $30,000 and $20,000, respectively. The final $18,000 will be dispersed amongst Mental Health & Wellness, Education & Literacy and Community & Environment.
"The Tahoe Women's [Community] Fund is a wonderful organization that does tremendous things for the community," said Bread & Broth director Carol Gerard. The nonprofit's Bread & Broth 4 Kids program received a grant from TWCF in 2016 that went towards purchasing food given to students over the weekend.
"The bottom line is it allowed us not only to improve the quality of food we're giving to students, but also allowed us to feel comfortable expanding and increasing the number of students we serve," she continued.
National Alliance on Mental Illness' El Dorado County chapter has also positively impacted from the efforts of TWCF. As a result of the grant it received in 2017, the organization has been able to offer new groups to the local community.
"It's been a dream for years to bring NAMI Peer-to-Peer to South Lake Tahoe. It hasn't ever been done before. We do have family-to-family support groups, but never anything for peers," said Jeanne Nelson, president of NAMI El Dorado County.
"This is the first year that because of this investment we've been able to offer that to the community. We already have the minimum level of attendees needed signed up for the spring class. We're just thrilled to offer this."
How to Give
While the organization is known as the Tahoe Women's Community Fund, anyone is welcome to participate. New members who join in 2018 will be able to vote in the 2019 grant cycle.
Learn more about TWCF, its grant cycle and the levels of membership online at http://www.tahoewomenscommunityfund.org.