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The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio Strategic Grantmaking Initiative. One Girl June 2009 . Organizational History.

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organizational history
Organizational History

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is a public foundation that promotes social change by growing philanthropy and empowering women and girls to reach their potential. We serve Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union counties. For the past seven years, we have used an inclusive, consensus-driven model to determine which programs we fund. As a result, more than $800,000 has been given to 90 programs that address the root causes of issues facing women and girls in our community.

strategic grantmaking history
Strategic Grantmaking History

In September 2004, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio in partnership with The Columbus Foundation published the first gender-specific research study for Central Ohio, COUNT ON HER!. One of the recommendations of COUNT ON HER! described an opportunity to further explore the gender-specific information about girls.

In February 2009, The Women’s Fund released One Girl: The Status of Girls in Central Ohio, a report about how girls are faring in our community.

In addition to the “numbers and narrative” information, to complete the portrait of girls in central Ohio, The Women’s Fund held 13 “Listening Conversations” with over 500 community members including, social services providers, parents, educators, decision makers, and funders in all seven counties.

Using an appreciative and strengths-based model of inquiry, we asked adults questions concerning the experiences of girls in each community. Then we asked the experts – Girls themselves - what it is that motivates them, what resources have been most helpful, and what they need to catapult to success.

report results
Report Results
  • Economic Characteristics: Over 35,000 girls in central Ohio are living in poverty (1 out of 6). Girls in Franklin county face a 1 out of 4 chance of living in poverty and the situation gets worse if that girl is under 5 or is born to a single parent.
  • Education: Girls had higher honors rates than boys across all counties in central Ohio. Although girls consistently perform better than boys on the 5th, 8th, and 11th grade reading and math proficiency tests, they still fall behind in science.
  • Health: Over 96% of girls are able to access health care. This rate drops to 91% in Franklin County. One in three girls described themselves as overweight, even though just 8.5% were overweight (BMI at or above 95th percentile)
  • Sexual Health: 55% of girls who have had sexual intercourse during the past three months used a condom, compared to 65% of boys. Girls in Franklin County are 38% more likely to get pregnant and 32% more likely to have an abortion than any of her peers in in central Ohio.
  • Safety: One in five girls in central Ohio have had thoughts of hurting herself, one in six have thought of suicide and one in ten have attempted suicide in the past year.
  • Risk Behavior: Over 1 in 4 central Ohio girls participates in binge drinking and has tried prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Nearly one in three girls have tried marijuana.

Counties heard: Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Pickaway, Madison, and Union

Total Number of Community Reached: 622

Total Number of Girls reached: 57

Total Number of Adults Reached: 453

Number of Adults reached through survey:112

Number of Attendees at each convening:

  • Social Change Exchange, February 10 (multiple counties) - 300 adults
  • Tuesday March 31 in Dublin - 20 adults, 1 girl
  • Tuesday May 5 in Pickaway - 28 girls, grades 5th – 8th, both at-risk and thriving
  • Wednesday May 6 in Franklin County - 25 adults, 2 girls
  • Monday May 11 in Fairfield County - 3 adults
  • Tuesday May 19 in Licking County - 20 adults
  • Thursday May 21 in Madison County - 25 adults
  • Thursday May 21 in Union County - 25 adults
  • Saturday May 23 in Pickaway County - 15 girls, grades 6th-12th
  • Tuesday June 2 in Franklin County - 20 adults
  • Friday June 5 in Pickaway County - 15 adults, 1 girl
  • Wednesday June 8th in Delaware County - 9 incarcerated girls
major recurring themes
Major Recurring Themes


  • Systemic and Programmatic
  • Individual and group
  • Adults and Peer mentorship
  • Formalized and informal structure
  • Mentorship pipeline

Transitional Support

  • Addressing disparities in academic performance from 5th grade to 6th grade and even more disparities as girls move from 8th grade to high school and high school to college.
  • Supporting on a continuum that will target girls during each transition

Resiliency through Resources

  • Strong personality characteristics such as a stubborn or assertive attitude combined with the drive and desire to succeed
  • Extra curricular activities in school and in the community ( 4H club, sports teams, girl scouts)
  • Strong positive relationships with peers and family
  • Supportive school network of authorities ( teachers, counselors, coaches etc.)
  • Exposure to opportunities outside of the surrounding environment
major recurring themes1
Major Recurring Themes

Self Esteem and Confidence Building

  • Self Forgiveness
  • Building Assertiveness skills
  • Combining self esteem building with mentorship program that can be implemented in school curriculums

Establishing healthy relationships with parents and peers

  • Relationship safety and dating violence training
  • Mother daughter programs to promote the relationship between a girl and her mother
  • Comprehensive, medically accurate sexual health education should start in 5th grade

Community accountability

  • The Community is largely unaware of the story of girls
  • Everyone who comes in contact with a girl can change her life and be changed


  • Our conversations have reported that girls are not accessing opportunities to experience life outside of their normal environment
county differences
County Differences

Rural Counties: Licking, Pickaway, Madison, Union

  • Focus on exposure
    • Rural farming culture lacks awareness of outside opportunities.
    • Generational Thinking: girls have only seen one way of life because that is how their mothers and grandmothers have lived. Don’t know any other way of living.
    • Campaigning needs to be done in order to promote the potential of girls outside of the region.
    • Parent don’t want their daughters to rise above them.

Urban & Suburban Counties: Franklin & Delaware

  • Focus on the importance of Mentoring, and community awareness
    • Neighborhood dynamics affect girls ability to reach full potential
    • Urban Counties such as Franklin also reported generational thinking especially within African American communities
    • Parental Responsibility - kids imitate parents at school, parents are not leading the conversation at home
    • The necessity of a strong support system for girls becomes paramount during middle school
adult survey results
Adult Survey Results
        • 27.9% First contact with The Fund
        • 24% Attended events in the past
        • 23.1% Non-profit organization
  • What do you think would provide the most social change impact for girls?
  • Self-esteem programming 63%
  • Leadership Programs 59%
  • Adult mentoring 46%
  • Comprehensive sex education 45%
  • Peer-to-peer relationship building 38%
  • STEM 37%
  • HS - MS mentoring 32%
  • Summer camps 17%
  • Etiquette lessons 17%
  • Sports Programs 16%
adult survey results1
Adult Survey Results

What do you think are the most salient issues for girls in your community?

Most Important

Least Important

girl s survey results
Girl’s Survey Results

15 years old - 3

16 years old - 5

17 years old - 5

18 years old - 2

19 years old – 1

Total number of girls who completed the survey: 52

  • 10 years old – 1
  • 11 years old - 6
  • 12 years old - 6
  • 13 years old - 13
  • 14 years old - 10
convening results adults
Convening Results: Adults

Focus on adult/child relationships

Adult women mentoring high school, middle school and elementary school girls

An emergency mentorship task force would function as a safety net of support for at-risk girls

Provide an incentive-based child development parenting program that would reach parents in their homes and engage the parents to be more connected to their daughter’s social and academic development

When asked about peer mentoring, adults agreed that peers are more powerful influences than adults

Adults want mentoring programs that provide empowerment and enriching opportunities.

convening results girls
Convening Results: Girls

Focus on peer to peer influence

Of the 52 girls who completed the survey, 65.4% of girls indicated that they would prefer high school girls mentoring middle school girls.

Girls want mentorship from someone closer to their age who preferably has a similar background

Girls want adults around and they want to have access to older peers as well

Girls do not want assigned mentors or “special assigned” groups such as a specific group for girls dealing with parental divorce

Girls have expressed the need for a more comprehensive mentoring experience with opportunities to participate in activities where they can bond with older girls and girls within their same peer group.