Ojai Women’s Fund to Improve Grant Program

Feb 26, 2024 | 0 comments

Beginning in 2024, the Ojai Women’s Fund (OWF) will modify how it awards grants. This year, the top-scoring grant applications, regardless of focus area, will be on the ballot for all members to vote on. Members will vote for five out of the top ten, and the five applications with the most votes will receive a grant. Previously, two nonprofits in each focus area of arts, education, environment, health, and social services were on the ballot, and members’ votes selected one in each category.

“OWF is a dynamic organization,” said Karen Evenden, co-founder of the group. “The leadership team has learned a lot in our almost decade-long tradition of giving in the Ojai community. We are proud that our grants make a significant difference in the work done by the local nonprofits serving our community. This change will strengthen our ability to target local unmet needs.”

After an extensive review of the demographics, statistics, local needs, past applicants, and grant awards by the Grants Committee, and with the approval of the Steering Committee, OWF has decided that the organization will have a more significant impact on the Ojai Valley if it were responsive to the unique opportunities each year presents, rather than confining decisions to benefit each category equally.

“In our journey of growth and community service,” said Catherine Meek and Polly Nelson, co-chairs of the Grants Committee, “Ojai Women’s Fund has embraced change and impactful solutions that resonate with the heart of our mission. The changes outlined in our grant-awarding process mark a shift towards a more inclusive and effective way of fostering positive change in our nonprofit communities.”

By changing the ballot to reflect the top-scoring grant applications, OWF’s goal is to continue supporting its mission of making substantial grants annually to recipient organizations that target critical needs in the Ojai Valley. This better, more responsive distribution of money will provide a more flexible framework to needs over time. OWF will continue to solicit and review grant applications from nonprofits that support arts, education, environment, health services, and social services.

“We are very excited,” said Margo Hass and Susan Weaver, OWF co-chairs, “that in OWF’s 9th year of grant giving, our members will be able to vote for the nonprofits they think will best serve the needs of Ojai Valley without being limited to one choice per category. This change results from much discussion among our leadership team and members’ feedback. We believe it is another positive step forward in providing grant money to the organizations supporting our wonderful community.”

“As we head into our 9th year of giving to our Valley,” said Peggy Russell, co-founder of OWF, “I enthusiastically embrace the changes our grants committee has instituted that will allow a more equitable distribution of grant monies to our nonprofits, and I thank the visionary efforts of our grants team.”