Women’s Giving Circle expands in its second year


Bailey Balard

The Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) is collecting grant applications and hosting their first in-person events after a struggling launch during the 2020-2021 school year.

“As a leadership group with leadership opportunities, and also a philanthropic group, I just think we create such a good mix and outpouring of like support and passion for the community and for the campus,” said Jill Selby, donor engagement assistant at the GC Foundation, “I think the cool thing is that we open up funding, like we’re not just super specific on, okay, this money needs to go where. It’s really a group led effort.”

GC Women’s Center and GC Foundation introduced the Women’s Giving circle (WGC) with the help of staff members Jennifer Graham, Jill Selby, Emily Boewadt and Caroline Attaway in April of 2020.

The WGC asks current students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends of the college and others to give donations to better the college and the Milledgeville community. The WGC currently has 45 members, including alumni from other states.

“This year we are doing some virtual things because we have members from all over, which is a pretty cool thing,” said Jennifer Graham, director of the Women’s Center. “We are trying to find that balance…on what opportunities we want to give to members in person, so that there can be that community building.”

On Sept. 1, the WGC held a “Welcome Back Reception,” its first in person event, allowing members to meet each other in person and start off WGC events for the year.

During Alumni Week on Nov. 3, the WGC will be holding a luncheon in-person at the Pat Peterson Museum Education Room inside the Russell Library. This event will also have a virtual option and three women leader panelists speaking: Carlee Schulti, Jennifer Pollard and Rina Puri. Schulti is the director of the downtown Milledgeville directive authority. Pollard is the executive director of lockerly arboretum. Puri is the owner of Digital Chicks Media. In addition, members will be able to inquire about the grant proposals that are asking for funding this semester.

“I think this year we hope to increase from what we raised at this time last year,” said Selby. “Last year I think we had about a little over $3,000 raised and then some of that was spent for proposals that were submitted and then this year, so far we have about $4,630.”

The WGC accepted grant applications for the 2021-2022 school year until Oct. 20 for the fall semester of funding.

Grant applications are accepted for any requests that support and promote scholarship and research, promote women’s leadership, enrich life for women and children or encourage outreach and engagement in the community.

The WGC had two funding opportunities during the 2020-2021 school year that donated money to Project Brave, the Creating Change Conference, and the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

Members will gather for a democratic voting process to determine where the collective dollars will go.

The WGC will request more proposals towards their second funding cycle during the spring semester.

“I think we set it in the first five years, and that might have to adjust just depending on the amount of funding, to establish an annual scholarship for a student, or students,” said Caroline Attaway, donor engagement associate of Student life,

According to Attaway, the WGC hopes to eventually be able to offer a scholarship through their funding, establish an endowment to ensure the future of the circle and offer more social activities to the broader community.

“We have some ideas for tentative plans that we want to do,” said Selby. “In summation, I guess we do want to do something within the community.”

According to Selby, one tentative plan is a sports day with elementary school kids where they either go to elementary schools or bring the students on campus to teach the students about a variety of sports through student athletes and Women Giving Circle volunteers.