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Eighteen projects have received Women Building Community (WBC) Grants totaling more than $51,000, announced Liz Colucci, president of the City Federation of Women's Organizations (CFWO) board. WBC Grant recipients were recognized at an event Tuesday, December 4 celebrating the ways they will help to improve the lives of Tompkins County women and girls.

Colucci expressed: "The projects we have chosen to support will impact women and girls of all ages and cultures in many varied activities. These projects will impact very young, elementary age girls, to young women starting families, to senior women. Some will provide exercise, social opportunities, and pathways to access local support resources. Some will provide tangible goods -- a renovated community kitchen, repair supplies for elderly apartment dwellers, start-up packages of household goods for women moving from homelessness to their own home. The CFWO is proud to partner with these agencies to achieve these important goals."

Grants were awarded on the merit of the program, quality of the application, and available funds for the cycle, explained Cora Yao, co-chair of the Grants Committee. She announced that $43,253 was awarded for 17 "WBC Up to $5,000 Grants" and $7,920 was made for the one "WBC Innovation Grant" in this sixth cycle of grants made by the CFWO. Nine applications were fully funded while others received partial funds. In total there were 31 applications requesting $162,549.

"Every year, as I read the grant applications, I am overwhelmed at the care this community gives to acknowledge women's needs and create new opportunities that will enhance the lives of women and their families in Tompkins County. This year is no exception and every grant application that we received made me appreciate the amazing community in which we live," expressed Colucci.

Seventeen were awarded WBC Up to $5000 Grants and one received the WBC Innovation Grant (Up of $10,000):

The WBC Innovation Grant was awarded to Global Roots Play School (Ithaca Welcomes Refugees).

WBC Up to $5,000 Grants were made for 2019 Ithaca Free Clinic Healthcare and Diagnostic Services for Women (Ithaca Free Clinic), A Place to Stay: Moving Up (Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga), Advocacy Center Therapy Program (Advocacy Center of Tompkins County), College Initiative Upstate: Wise Women (Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources of Tompkins County), Enabling Successful Women and Children (Faculty Student Association Childcare Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College), Gaia Girls (Ithaca Children's Garden), Global Roots Play School (Ithaca Welcomes Refugees), Graduated Leadership Employment and Development Skills Paid Partnership (Women's Opportunity Center), Homebound Instructions for Immigrant and Refugee Women (Tompkins Learning Partners), Meditation and Yoga for GIAC Senior Citizens (Greater Ithaca Activities Center), "Other Powers: Trauma Survivors Reclaim Joy" Multi-Media Presentation (CloseToHome Productions), Removing Road Blocks (Child Development Council of Central NY), Ripples of Change: Promoting Diversity in Women's Civic Leadership (Natural Leaders Initiative), Strength in Girls @A+: Mindfulness and Yoga (BJM Enrichment Program), Telling Histories: Women's Oral History Project (The History Center in Tompkins County), Varna Kitchen Renovations (Varna Community Association), and Women Homeowner's Small Repair Materials Fund (Better Housing for Tompkins County).

The mission of the CFWO is to support women and girls and to act as a catalyst for the improvement of the lives of women and girls in Tompkins County, thus making a contribution to the entire community. The CFWO owned the Women's Community Building on West Seneca Street where Ithaca Neighborhood Housing now operates an affordable housing complex called Breckenridge Place. The proceeds of this sale and existing CFWO resources have created a fund which makes WBC grants possible.

Project areas considered for funding address needs and opportunities that improve the quality of life for Tompkins County women and girls. One of the following criteria must be addressed: Community Development, Education, Health, Human Services, and Activities that address Gender Equity. More information on the priorities of the WBC Grants, and about what will not be funded, is available at For more information, follow CFWO and WBC on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, visit the website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

At the CFWO annual meeting last May, the grand total of its first five annual grant cycles of 52 grants totaling $134,245 to 29 different organizations was highlighted. Plans to double the allocations for 2019 was announced because of the high need for funding that was apparent in the first years of operations and because the CFWO now operates as a private foundation. In addition to the fall cycle of WBC up to $5000 Grants and the WBC Innovation Grant, a winter deadline for Innovation Grants will be added and a new type of grant became available in June. WBC Unexpected Needs Grants up to $1000 is a rolling-application opportunity to help not-for-profits fund unexpected needs or emergencies. In addition, CFWO will be working with Tompkins Cortland Community College to establish a Legacy Endowed Scholarship for women students to use for tuition and fees and/or for childcare.

The City Federation of Women's Organizations was founded in 1910 by a group of women "concerned with education, recreation, philanthropy, health, safety and civic betterment." As the number of member organizations grew they purchased a home on the corner of Cayuga and Seneca Streets in 1920 and opened the first Women's Community Building as a recreational center for women and girls. This center had meeting rooms, a public rest room, and living quarters for young working women. In 1927 they purchased the house next door and it became a home for older women. In the 1940s they opened a community nursery school.

By 1960 both houses were gone and the new Women's Community Building was opened with a community auditorium and commercial kitchen. Times changed, membership in the CFWO declined and community needs were different. The building was sold in 2012 to make way for much needed affordable housing. The profits from the sale of the building and existing CFWO resources have been used to establish an endowment that will continue the legacy of the many organizations of the CFWO and community members who have supported the changing needs of women over the years.

The new CFWO is managed by a Board of Directors that includes individuals representing the community and individuals recommended by the CFWO Legacy Organizations: American Association of University Women, Cornell Campus Club, Eckankar, Ithaca Downtown Business Women, Ithaca Garden Club, Ithaca Music Club, Ithaca Woman's Club, La Leche League of Ithaca, The League of Women Voters of Tompkins County, Service League, Tompkins County National Organization for Women, Tompkins County Quilters Guild and Writers Association of the Ithaca Area.

Women Building Community Innovation Grant
Global Roots Play School, Ithaca Welcomes Refugees:
Global Roots Play School is a nurturing, half-day nursery school program where refugee and immigrant women can send their young children so they can attend their own English classes or tutoring sessions. This grant will be used to expand community building by increasing individual meetings and community activities for mothers.

Women Building Community Grants Up to $5000
2019 Ithaca Free Clinic Healthcare and Diagnostic Services for Women, Ithaca Free Clinic:
These funds will help support access to diagnostic and medical testing required to meet the unique health care needs of women utilizing Ithaca Free Clinic primary, therapeutic and preventive health care services. They play an important role providing testing for women lacking health insurance or who are underinsured or unable to take advantage of other community medical support services.

A Place to Stay: Moving Up, Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga:
A Place to Stay is a transitional housing program designed to provide 90 day stays to homeless women as they work on their goals of self-sufficiency, chief of these being permanent rental housing. This year's grant will help cover the different needs involved when moving into their own residence.

Advocacy Center Therapy Program, Advocacy Center of Tompkins County:
The Advocacy Center provides comprehensive services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse. This grant helps support individual crisis therapy sessions designed to provide low barrier mental health services for female victims who need specialized therapy services.

College Initiative Upstate: Wise Women, OAR (Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources) of Tompkins County:
OAR will use this grant as matching funds to assist women who are not able to proceed with plans to apply to, enroll in or continue college because of outstanding debts, fines, student loans or expenses related to emergency situations. CIU will match the student's contribution toward satisfying her debt or expenses. Some of the funds will be used to purchase textbooks for enrolled students.

Enabling Successful Women and Children, Faculty Student Association (FSA) Childcare Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College:
The Child Care Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College provides quality care and education to the college community's children. This grant helps create a scholarship fund for low income women who fall at 100% of the poverty level guidelines and are not currently being subsidized for child care.

Gaia Girls, Ithaca Children's Garden:
The Ithaca Children's Garden, a free and public garden open to all, will use grant funds for an afterschool program tailored for middle school aged girls. Girls will investigate topics of personal growth with environmental metaphors and comparisons. The program will seek to incorporate elements of their surroundings to ensure that girls find comfort and connection in the natural world as they find their way through the social world.

Global Roots Play School, Ithaca Welcomes Refugees:
Global Roots Play School is a nurturing, half-day nursery school program where refugee and immigrant women can send their young children so they can attend their own English classes or tutoring sessions. This grant will be used to help subsidize monthly tuition costs for low-income women.

Graduated Leadership Employment and Development Skills Paid Partnership, Women's Opportunity Center:
The mission of the Women's Opportunity Center is to lead "low income women out of poverty through career counseling, training and removing barriers to help them become job ready and find employment." This grant will support one paid internship for a displaced homemaker to gain valuable work experience and help her learn or update skills for today's job market.

Homebound Instructions for Immigrant and Refugee Women, Tompkins Learning Partners:
Tompkins Learning Partners provides one-on-one instruction for adult learners in their Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language programs. This grant will provide the resources for in-home instruction for students who are unable to come to the office.

Meditation and Yoga for GIAC Senior Citizens, Greater Ithaca Activities Center:
The Greater Ithaca Activities Center is a center for all ages, and serves the immediate neighborhood and the greater Ithaca area by providing multicultural, educational and recreational programs focused on social and individual development. This grant will provide a class in chair yoga for seniors because it requires less up and down movements and can be done by all abilities.

"Other Powers: Trauma Survivors Reclaim Joy" Multi-Media Presentation, CloseToHome Productions:
CloseToHome Productions has been awarded a grant to help fund "Other Powers: Trauma Survivors Reclaim Joy" multi-media presentation. It is a collaboration with Ithaca filmmaker Sue Perlgut and Cornell Professor and Poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon focusing on inventive exploration of different cultural and intersectional experiences of trauma and healing.

Removing Road Blocks, Child Development Council of Central NY:
The Child Development Council of Central NY promotes healthy development of children and families at home, in child care and in the community. This grant will assist the women enrolled in the Family Services program by removing the roadblocks that prevent them from meeting their education, employment and parenting goals. These roadblocks are varied and may include bus passes, application fees or even paying bills to access health care.

Ripples of Change: Promoting Diversity in Women's Civic Leadership, Natural Leaders Initiative:
Natural Leaders Initiative supports, catalyzes and accelerates the growth of Tompkins County grassroots leaders from communities under-represented in civic leadership, particularly communities of color, low/moderate communities and immigrants. This grant will help NLI offer of a leadership development series.

Strength in Girls @A+: Mindfulness and Yoga, BJM Enrichment Program:
The BJM Enrichment Program offers affordable enrichment and extension activities at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School including focus on academics, life skills and STEM. This grant will support the second year of programming that empowers girls through yoga and mindfulness in order to reduce stress and inspire girls to use mindfulness and yoga practices throughout their lives.

Telling Histories: Women's Oral History Project, The History Center in Tompkins County:
The History Center will support young women ages 14-19 in exploring and uncovering hidden or untold histories about girls and women in Tompkins County. The participants will explore themes and question what matters to them in their communities, be trained on how to conduct oral history interviews, and each will interview on adult woman in the community related to their personal interests. They will transcribe their interviews and create an archival copy of the audio interviews.

Varna Kitchen Renovations, Varna Community Association:
The Varna Community Center provides wholesome recreational and educational activities and a gathering place for the youth, senior citizens, charitable organizations and other members of the Varna and neighboring communities. This grant will help complete the upgrades to the center's heavily used kitchen.

Women Homeowner's Small Repair Materials Fund, Better Housing for Tompkins County:
The Small Home Repair program, through the Construction Services Department at Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, provides elderly and disabled homeowners free, skilled labor for repairs to help maintain their homes in a secure and safe condition. The vast majority of clients are very low income, elderly women who live alone. This grant will supply financial assistance toward their repair materials for health and safety related housing needs.

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