Celebrate Ohio's women philanthropists

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Did you know that President Carter declared the first National Women’s History week – March 8 – back in 1980? The following year Congress passed a resolution establishing the annual week of recognition and it took another 6 years for the celebration to expand to the entire month.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I offer a celebration of women involved in our state’s philanthropies, those who have been major donors to innumerable causes and institutions, those who gather in giving circles and women’s funds to support their communities, those who have established foundations for giving in perpetuity, those who inspire us to give more.

The Western Reserve Historical Society showcases women engaged in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio philanthropy, reaching back to 1794. Some of the names are familiar, as the women’s legacies are captured in the names of foundations that are still going strong, including:

  • Martha Holden Jennings
  • Elizabeth Severance Allen Prentiss
  • Beth Kilpatrick Stocker
  • Margaret “Peg” Clark Morgan

And there are some whose names are not as familiar but who have made their marks, like Jane Edna Harris Hunter, who established the Phyllis Wheatley Association and, later, a foundation of the same name to help African-American girls.

Thousands of women are engaged in current-day philanthropy through Women’s Funds, often organized within community foundations and sometimes as separate organizations. Many share a common focus and goal of empowering the lives of women and girls, often with a focus on those whose voices are unheard and whose lives lack opportunities. Community foundations that have women’s funds include:

  • Akron Community Foundation
  • Ashland County Community Foundation
  • Athens Foundation
  • Greater Cincinnati Foundation
  • Defiance Area Foundation
  • Hamilton Community Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Lorain County
  • Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley
  • Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley
  • Richland County Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Shelby County
  • Springfield Foundation
  • Stark Community Foundation
  • Tiffin Community Foundation
  • The Greater Toledo Community Foundation
  • The Troy Foundation
  • Upper Arlington Community Foundation
  • The Youngstown Foundation

There are also stand-alone philanthropies composed of women and/or focused on women and girls, such as the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, the Dublin Women’s Philanthropic Club and the Women’s Philanthropy at Jewish Columbus.

Women philanthropists also engage in philanthropy that supports their alma maters, particularly at the college level. The Women & Philanthropy group at The Ohio State University is just one example of how higher education taps into the resources – financial and social – of alumnae to raise funds, make grants and award scholarships.

We salute and celebrate all women who strive to make a difference in their communities and those who have gone before us and paved the way to our involvement today.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Chief Communications & Public Policy Officer, Philanthropy Ohio

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