AAWGT News

AAWGT Grants $138,496 to Local Nonprofits

May 11, 2021

The Grant Applications that will be funded by our 2021 Annual Grant Fund were decided by the AAWGT Membership on May 11. This year, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic social restrictions, all voting was online only.
This was a year of big accomplishments for AAWGT and the Grant Fund. A near record amount of money was raised for grant distribution, thanks to our generous members. We had 50 grant applications which was more than ever before, partly because of how widely the Call for Applications was distributed. And, it goes without saying, the amount of time every member of the Grants Committee put in to review and evaluate all the submitted grant applications was extensive. All this hard work culminated in 15 applications approved for the ballot.
New this year is the Racial Equity Grant. This grant has a maximum of $20,000. The grant seeks to fund initiatives that could prevent the hardships that disproportionately affect women and families of color, such as childhood hunger, higher mortality rates, early childhood education disparities, higher unemployment, homelessness, and poor mental health; and endeavors to address the underlying causes of hardships rather than correcting them after they occur. This grant also enlarges the initiatives that can be funded to include research, professional development, consultants, and focus groups. This being the first year for this grant, the Grants Committee was pleased with the quality of grants that made the ballot.
The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County will be distributing the $138,496 Grant Fund to six Regular Grants plus the Fundamental Needs Grant and the Racial Equity Grant. Each is described below. This year, because of the pandemic crisis, the decision was made to allocate all the Grant Fund dollars rather than returning the remainder after full grant amounts were awarded to the 2021 Grants Fund. Therefore, Anne Arundel County Food Bank, the first choice of the voters that could not be funded in full, will receive the remaining $8,496.

Racial Equity Grant: Co-op Arundel – My Sistah’s Keeper $20,000

An 8-week program that pairs 15 women with low incomes with a mentor to address topics such as financial literacy, life skills, goal setting and self-introspection.

Fundamental Needs Grant: Marshall Love Corp – W. Annapolis Pop-Up Pantry $10,000

Creation of a newborn and toddler pantry with diapers, wipes, bottles, formula and other necessities, Spanish-speaking volunteers provide other needed information to those who visit the pantry.

Regular Grants:

Annapolis Immigration Justice Network – Legal Assistance Project $20,000

Provides legal and case manager representation and related services to immigrant children as they face the challenging path to remain in this country.

Anne Arundel County CASA, Inc – For Abused and Neglected Children in Foster Care $20,000

To advocate for abused and neglected foster children to support their transition from the court system to a safe and stable home.

Anne Arundel County Food Bank – Expand/Stock Baby Pantries $8,496

To expand and stock baby pantries, adding facilities in Brooklyn Park, Laurel and Glen Burnie. (Due to tremendous need, we continued last year’s practice of allocating all remaining dollars available in the Grant fund.)

Charting Careers – Mentoring, College & Career Readiness $20,000

Breaking the cycle of poverty and inequity for African American and Latino youth in Annapolis with a mentor-focused approach that begins with tutoring in reading and continues in later years with college and career guidance.

Hope for All – Turning Houses into Homes $20,000

Provides beds, furniture, clothing, personal hygiene products and other household items to 100 homeless women and children as they transition to permanent housing.

Rebuilding Together – Urgent Home & Critical Repairs - $20,000

Works to keep low-income homeowners, largely women, in their homes by providing home repairs, thereby preventing homelessness and foreclosures. Our grant will renovate 14 homes.

Affordable Housing Program

June 9, 2021

On June 9th The AAWGT Education & Programing Committee presented an engrossing panel discussion on Affordable Housing in Anne Arundel County. Kathy Koch, Executive Director of Arundel Community Development Services (ACDS), Theresa Wellman, Chief of Community Development for the City of Annapolis, and Melissa Maddox-Evans, Executive Director, CEO of HACA are leaders in Affordable Housing in the County and were our amazing speakers, moderated by Ardath Cade, a longtime affordable housing champion.

The audience was given a true picture of what affordable housing means and what funding resources are available for the seniors, disabled adults and working families that would otherwise not be able to afford to live in Anne Arundel County. We learned about tax credits or reduced debt costs for private and non-profit developers which, in turn enable lower-than-market-rate rents to persons with limited income. And we were also informed of Public Housing with its funding problems in the past and its hopeful future.

To hear the recording of this program, please click HERE.

Additional event resources may be found  here. Resources include Luke Frederick's Anne Arundel County Public Library presentation providing a startling history of laws that have impacted affordable housing with additional resources provided by our Event Presenters including the HACA Quarterly City Council Presentation.


Announcing 2021 Grants

This year marks our 15th year of grantmaking. Since our founding in 2006, we have invested more than $1.4 million in grants to 42 different nonprofits in Anne Arundel County working to improve the quality of life for women and families.

This year we offered three different types of grants. For the first time, we explored how our grantmaking might help us address racial inequities with a $20,000 Racial Equity grant. We also offered the $10,000 Fundamental Needs grant, this time limited to county organizations not previously funded by AAWGT. And we, of course, continued our Regular grant program.

We received a record number of 50 applications which were carefully evaluated by our reviewers to determine the 15 organizations that would advance to the ballot. We also had a near-record amount in our Grant fund: $138,496. Voting was online and results were announced and celebrated at a May 11 Zoom meeting. For more detailed information about our review process, see our grant summary process.

We are delighted to welcome Co-op Arundel, Marshall Hope Corporation and Charting Careers as new grantees this year.

Co-op Arundel – My Sistah’s Keeper $20,000

An 8-week program that pairs 15 women with low incomes with a mentor to address topics such as financial literacy, life skills, goal setting and self-introspection.


Marshall Love Corp – W. Annapolis Pop-Up Pantry $10,000

Creation of a newborn and toddler pantry with diapers, wipes, bottles, formula and other necessities, Spanish-speaking volunteers provide other needed information to those who visit the pantry.


Annapolis Immigration Justice Network – Legal Assistance Project $20,000

Provides legal and case manager representation and related services to immigrant children as they face the challenging path to remain in this country.

Anne Arundel County CASA, Inc – For Abused and Neglected Children in Foster Care $20,000

To advocate for abused and neglected foster children to support their transition from the court system to a safe and stable home.

Anne Arundel County Food Bank – Expand/Stock Baby Pantries $8,496

To expand and stock baby pantries, adding facilities in Brooklyn Park, Laurel and Glen Burnie. (Due to tremendous need, we continued last year’s practice of allocating all remaining dollars available in the Grant fund.)

Charting Careers – Mentoring, College & Career Readiness $20,000

Breaking the cycle of poverty and inequity for African American and Latino youth in Annapolis with a mentor-focused approach that begins with tutoring in reading and continues in later years with college and career guidance.

HOPE for All – Turning Houses into Homes $20,000

Provides beds, furniture, clothing, personal hygiene products and other household items to 100 homeless women and children as they transition to permanent housing.

Rebuilding Together – Urgent Home & Critical Repairs - $20,000

Works to keep low-income homeowners, largely women, in their homes by providing home repairs, thereby preventing homelessness and foreclosures. Our grant will renovate 14 homes.


Our First Virtual Grants Showcase

September 9, 2020

On September 9th, AAWGT presented its annual Grants Showcase by Zoom Webinar. Members and guests alike embraced the new format, with 211 registrants.

This annual event is our chance to literally “showcase” the wonderful work of our 2019 grantees who just completed their grant year. This year we added a segment to shine light on our new 2020 grantees—9 organizations that together received over $130,000 to fund their work in the coming year.


Showcase Moderator Susan Cook and Post Grants Evaluation Committee (PGEC) Chair Kate Caldwell kicked off the one-hour presentation, noting that over the past 14 years, AAWGT has invested over $1.2 million in AAC nonprofit organizations.

The Webinar provided an opportunity for grantees to tell us about the challenges and successes of their grant year. Presenters included Rob Levit/Creating Communities, Jo Ann Mattson/Light House; Tony Gamboa/Organization of Hispanic & Latin Americans of Anne Arundel County OHLA, Barbara Cupp/Rebuilding Together AAC; Laura Iversen/Start The Adventure in Reading STAIR - Annapolis, and Stefanie Takacs/Touchstones Discussion Project. Kristen Strain/Tahirih Justice Center was unable to attend due to illness but Susan Cook highlighted their project.

Our 2020 grantees were highlighted in a PowerPoint presentation we created to congratulate them on their newly-awarded grants.

  • Newtowne Community Development Corporation - From Surviving to Thriving- $10,000
  • Annapolis Immigration Justice Network - Legal Fund/Family Preservation Project - $20,000
  • Anne Arundel County (AAC) Food Bank, Inc. - Baby Pantries - $10,000
  • Chrysalis House, Inc.- Training for Child Development Staff - $6,330
  • HOPE For All, Inc. - Turning Houses into Homes - $19,978
  • The Light House, Inc. - Family Assistance Program - $20,000
  • Seeds 4 Success, Inc. - Student Health and Wellness Initiative - $20,000
  • Services from the Heart - Backpack Buddies Program/Food Backpacks - $10,000
  • Touchstones Discussion Project - Expanding Women’s Life and Leadership Skills for Post-Incarceration Success - $20,000

The event closed with a thank you to our sponsors for their ongoing support and a reminder to all attendees that additional information about the grantees is on our website.

Education Meeting: Trimming Health Inequity

June 17, 2020


Barbershops and beauty salons have long been trusted gathering spaces. Dr. Stephen Thomas and the Health Advocates In-Reach & Research (H.A.I.R.) Program use the strength of this trusted relationship to bring critical health screenings and information into the community.


Our keynote, Dr. Thomas, UMD, School of Public Health, Dir. Center for Health Equity, began with the history of mistrust of doctors by persons of color due to the long history of unfair practices and mistreatment. He shared his research from the study at Tuskegee and highlighted the disparities in coronavirus sufferings. His research came to life when he showed us how life expectancy can be predicted based solely on your metro stop.

In a lively discussion, Dr. Thomas and barbers Mike Brown and Fred Spry explained how they bring nurses and physicians into their barbershop to screen for diabetes, colorectal cancer and hypertension, and to promote flu shots. The barbers leverage their trusted client relationships to save lives from the barber chair, and they teach healthcare workers to do the same.

This education program was presented via a Zoom webinar. A recording of this event may be found here.

Education Meeting: The First 1,000 Days of a Child’s Life

February 5, 2020

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Brenda Jones Harden, set the stage for a powerful conversation about the critical needs of an infant, and the long-lasting effects of neglect. Her dynamic presentation before 141 attendees, described research demonstrating that brain growth starts prenatally, with peak development from two months to three years of age. She shared brain PET scans, comparing scans from a baby with a dependable caretaker, who regularly speaks, hugs, and interacts with the baby against the scans for a baby who did not have those benefits.


The difference is striking. Neglected children suffer from long-lasting decreases in cognitive, language and social skills for the rest of their lives. Evidence-based interventions for parent and child through private home visits, Early Head Start, Judy Centers, can make a difference—and the earlier the intervention, the more successful. Shockingly, the U.S. lags behind other countries in quality earlychildcare. Tatiana Klein provided statistics from AA County. Tamira Dunn presented the wide range of services provided by the Judy Center program.

Find Dr. Harden’s presentation and more on this important subject here.

2019 Grantee Field Trip: Sarah's House

September 25, 2019

Open since 1987 as a safe haven for women, children, and families who are homeless or abused, Sarah’s House is located on the edge of US Army Fort George G. Meade and consists of eight refurbished Army barracks housing office space, emergency shelter, dining facilities, a day care center, and four apartments where clients can live while obtaining support services.


Executive Director Kathryn Philliben briefed the group on arrival and introduced her staff, all of whom have been at Sarah’s House for at least 12 years. Kathryn explained that incoming clients are initially placed in emergency shelter so that case managers, program assistants, and training staff can identify the type of assistance needed.

Each individual or family is given their own room with a door that locks, and as many clients have not experienced such security and safety in the past they are thrilled to have some privacy. Residents’ meals are donated by churches, volunteer organizations and businesses. Stays in the emergency shelter are limited to 90 days after which clients move either to one of the apartments at Sarah’s House or somewhere in the county, where they are given financial help with rent for up to a year.

Kelly Anderson, Manager of Client Services, explained how the staff is organized to help clients with multiple issues. Case managers specialize in one area, making them more efficient in obtaining assistance, whether with legal matters, mental and behavioral health issues or employment and financial needs. Staff seeks to listen and help solve problems while also instilling self-reliance. Regarding employment, Eileen Meagher, Manager of Housing and Employment Services, explained her staff seeks first to identify client interests, as the more interested in the job being pursued, the more likely the client is to stay with the program. AAWGT grant funds were used in the past year to fund many of these training and certification classes.

Sarah’s House is always open to volunteer assistance and can use donations of twin bedding, both new and gently used. Pillows must be new. If you are interested in helping, please contact them at volunteersarahshouse@cc-md.org.

Women Leaders Fostering Change

On March 10, AAWGT presented a fascinating panel discussion moderated by member Cardie Templeton. Speakers were three extraordinary women leaders: Linda Gooden, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Margaret Kibben, and Monica Brown Jones, M.D. Topics included the importance of opening doors, the role of leadership “grit,” gender stereotyping, the pandemic’s effect on women’s leadership, overcoming self-doubts, and leadership’s evolution in the next decade. Highlights follow. Please click HERE for the full recording of this event.


Opening Doors. After Dr. Jones completed her residency at the University of Cincinnati, her department chair suggested that NIH would be a good place to land for a fellowship. Indeed, the National Cancer Institute had a postdoctoral research fellowship in ovarian cancer, Dr. Jones’ key interest area. She took the fellowship and became a basic science researcher, and after four years at NCI, moved to run a research lab at the Mayo Clinic. “To pay it forward,” Dr. Jones invited young women from all over the world to join her lab as post-doctorate fellows. Most proud of the mentorship section of her CV, she says everyone should have such a section that highlights what the mentored individuals have accomplished.

The Role of Leadership Grit. Kibben’s Dad told her, “You have to have Grun (family name) grit.” If cards are against you or if something looks overwhelming, you grit your teeth and power through it. She notes the many voices that can counter desires or hopes and hold you back. Grit enables pushing through to say, “I can try this, and if I fail, I will pick myself up and move forward.” Grit also is an important element of how one interacts with other people. It indicates, “I have a voice and I want to use it.” This is a big part of learning how to lead and succeed.

Overcoming Self-Doubts. Most leaders have many moments of self-doubt. The key for Gooden is to surround herself with a team whose members push back on decisions and raise issues that may require consideration. Too often we think the leader needs to know everything, but it takes a team to get things done and to provide checks and balances. She also cites the importance of having a mentor, particularly someone who will “play it straight” and not just tell her what she wants to hear when she asks, “What do you think?”

Leadership’s Evolution. As new generations enter the workforce, it will be comprised of a greater share of women. Women’s leadership style, characterized by mentoring, coaching, inclusivity, and collaboration, will lead to more success because new generations are looking for this style. Gooden expects the next decade to be “the age of the woman.”

Pandemic’s Effect on Women Leaders. The discussion touched on the fact that 2.5M women dropped out of the workforce due to COVID either due to job loss or the need to stay at home to care for children and help them with virtual learning. The panelists shared concern about this and unified commitment to help women who want and need to go back to work, as well as those who may choose or not be able to return. They also lauded the creativity and innovation of teachers during this era.

Final Thoughts: Each speaker noted the vital importance of “paying it forward” to open doors and support women’s leadership development. No one gets to a higher position in life without the help of others, commented Gooden. Additionally, finding your voice is critical. This activity requires self-awareness, which is a key leadership quality, said Dr. Jones. We all need to lean into leadership responsibility; people are waiting for us to use our character and our leadership gifts, so do it, Kibben urged.

Moving Forward to Reduce Racial Inequity

Following AAWGT’s sponsorship of a half-day meeting in 2018, presented by the Racial Equity Institute and attended by over 300 community members, we formed the Racial Equity Study Group (RESG). It is a safe space for members to continue to grapple with issues of racial inequity and to learn and explore what AAWGT might do in our community.


RESG worked with the Grants Committee to create a new 2021 grant category that addresses the causes, not just the effects, of racial inequity. We have brought in a consultant on unconscious bias to help prepare reviewers for upcoming grant reviews.

We’ve created a Resource Guide that captures a range of materials suggested by our members. And, we are reaching out to other giving circles and philanthropic organizations across the country to learn and to share.

The Racial Equity Study Group is a place to pursue AAWGT’s commitment to address racial inequity as we Invest, Inform, and Inspire.

Education Meeting: Elevating All Students — Eliminating All Gaps

Susan Schneider, Chair of the Education Committee, introduced our October 14 program “Elevating All Students - Eliminating All Gaps” and Keynote Speaker, Maisha Gillins, Executive Director, Office of Equity and Accelerated Student Achievement, Anne Arundel County Public Schools.


Dr. Gillins began her presentation by explaining that AACPS’s Educational Equity Policy governs everything her office does. After a thorough history of racial disparities in America and in Anne Arundel County, Dr. Gillins provided specific examples of implicit/unconscious bias in the classroom. She identified several steps individuals must take to identify and counter these biases: self-examination, widening perspectives, countering stereotypes, holding oneself accountable, and anticipating biases. Finally, she described approaches AACPS is taking to address these issues including professional development for staff with suggested self-study, establishment of a Workforce Diversity group and more.

Zoom audience questions followed and were moderated by Monique Brown, Anne Arundel County NAACP, Tatiana Klein, Centro de Ayuda and Barbara Hoffstein, Assistant Chair, Education Committee.

Annual Women and Leadership Forum—The Cost of Silence: Census 2020

March 4, 2020


“Women’s voice is vital in achieving a fully functioning society,” stated Karen Smith, chair of the AAWGT Leadership Development and Nominating Committee, in introducing AAWGT’s annual Women and Leadership Forum. She emphasized that we as women leaders need to use our voices in Census 2020 because the cost of silence is high. To drive home her point, she told attendees that during the last decade, Anne Arundel County did not receive more than $43 million in federal dollars it could have received….simply because one in five residents did not respond to Census 2010. For our community to receive the resources it needs, everyone must be counted in Census 2020.


Karen further explained that AAWGT’s annual Women and Leadership Forum is scheduled each year to coincide with International Women’s Day and designed to inspire and empower each of us as women leaders. This is especially pertinent this year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote in the United States.

Karen then introduced AAWGT vice president and program moderator, Elaine Shanley. Elaine introduced Maggie Gunther Osborn, senior vice president and chief strategy officer, United Philanthropy Forum. Maggie gave a dynamic and informative presentation about the challenges, misconceptions and implications of Census 2020, sharing that $1.5 trillion in federal dollars will be allocated to state and local agencies based on numbers generated by this Census. She also identified the biggest challenges to achieving a “full count”: (1) reaching the hard-to-count; (2) accessing the new online systems being used for first time this year; and (3) the lack of trust in our government’s use of Census data.

Following Maggie's remarks, Elaine introduced Charlestine Fairley, PhD, CEO of Anne Arundel Community Action Agency, and Jennifer Purcell, PhD, chief of staff, Office of the County Executive, who provided the local viewpoint and what we as individuals and organizations can and should do to ensure that everyone in Anne Arundel County is counted.

Elaine facilitated a very active question-and-answer period with our three speakers, drilling down on key questions such as data security, the Census roll-out timeline, efforts to reach the hard-to-count, and the actual cost to agencies such as the Community Action Agency resulting from undercounting. Elaine then recognized Christine Feldman from the County Library System who explained the Census education and assistance that libraries are providing to County residents – and recognized Phyllis Wai-Naftal from the US Census Bureau, who spoke of Census-related employment opportunities.

In closing the meeting, Karen called attention to our role as trusted ambassadors within our community and the importance of making our voices heard among these groups by sharing with them what we learned tonight. Together we can help facilitate an accurate Census 2020 count for Anne Arundel County.

More information about Census 2020 can be found here. An interactive map tracking data collection can be found here.

Education Meeting: Transportation—A Route to Education, Jobs, Health Care and Food

October 3, 2019

Transportation: A Route to Education, Jobs, Health Care, and Food, AAWGT’s third educational program in October, focused on an issue that is seemingly intractable in our large, spread-out county of Anne Arundel.


Dr. Celeste Chavis, Associate Professor in Transportation and Urban Infrastructure Studies at Morgan State University, used maps to illustrate the inherent inequity in current public transportation systems in Baltimore City. One example is the long commute to school facing many lower income children who must use public transportation. Dr. Chavis also defined several types of equity that can impact public planning, including procedural equity, which asks whether residents who have been historically excluded from planning are authentically included when a proposed policy change or new project is considered.

Dr. Pamela Brown, Executive Director of the Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children Youth and Families, also provided maps to demonstrate the need for improved public transportation in Anne Arundel County. She reported that transportation has ranked among the three highest every year that Poverty Amidst Plenty, a county needs assessment report, has been produced.

The final speaker of the program was Steuart Pittman, County Executive for Anne Arundel County.  Pittman recognized his Transportation Officer, Ramond Robinson, who has worked tirelessly to make incremental changes that make a real difference, as highlighted by Pam Brown's presentation. Pittman thanked Anne Arundel Women Giving Together for convening the discussion, and thanked the group for its commitment to the issues of lower-income residents of Anne Arundel County.

Education Meeting: Craving a Solution to Hunger—A Path to Food Security by 2030

June 12, 2019

AAWGT’s second educational program in June drew one of the largest audiences ever, with 130 members and guests registered. In this land of plenty attendees were given a chilling overview of the number of people in the US who are not sure when and how they will get their next meal.


Karen Bassarab, Senior Program Officer at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and Christine Melendez Ashley, Deputy Director for Government Relations at Bread for the World, began by reviewing the root causes of chronic food insecurity. Governmental policies, food advertising and societal norms were identified as factors in poor nutrition practices, along with more individually- based barriers to good nutrition such as lack of nutrition knowledge and unhealthy lifestyles. Limited access to healthy food due to urban “food deserts” was also identified. The overall result is that compared to white Americans, Latino families are two and a half times more likely and African American and Indigenous families are up to three times more likely to be food insecure. It also was reported that regardless of race, 30% of female-headed households are food insecure.

While causes vary, food insecurity universally creates a vicious long-term cycle of decline among affected populations. Inadequate nutrition from conception to 24 months negatively affects a child’s ability to succeed throughout life. This pattern continues through youth and adulthood, as an ongoing diet of non-nutritious, calorie-dense foods causes obesity and associated chronic diseases, ultimately leading to increased healthcare costs and decreasing the financial resources needed to purchase nutritious food.

In looking towards solutions, it was heartening to learn of recently formed county/school partnerships to combat food insecurity locally, as presented by Ann Heiser Buzzelli, RD, LDN, Community Education, Anne Arundel County Department of Health and Jodi Risse, RD., Supervisor, Food & Nutrition Services, Anne Arundel County Public Schools. After surveying the Brooklyn Park Community, Ann & Jodi encouraged a local farmer and other partners to set up the Brooklyn Park Farmers Market featuring foods with a rainbow of colors, enticing attendees to taste new foods. Jodi also applies the rainbow of colors approach to nutritious eating in school cafeterias, where students may serve themselves an unlimited number of fruits and vegetables.

The final speaker of the program was Michael Wierzbicki, a North County teacher who has pioneered a STEM education program for underserved students to combat food insecurity. Mike provides hands-on classes in growing nutritious food in urban gardens, farming tilapia, and tending honey-producing bee hives. Through these activities he teaches lessons in environmental science, nutrition, and general science, as well as principles of business. His students have started packaging their foods under the Cohort Brand, and several samples were displayed. At the completion of the program, Mike and his student assistants shared product tastings with the audience.

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