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Last Friday, The Women’s Fund of Essex County (TWF) announced annual grant funding totaling $250,000 to 37 nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls. 

In the past 18 years, The Women’s Fund has made over 250 bold investments totaling more than $2.8 million to 150 organizations that provide local women and girls a path to achieve their potential by creating new opportunities and supporting their economic well-being. From skills training and employment-readiness to promoting health and well-being, financial literacy, empowerment, and mentoring, The Women’s Fund supports a wide range of programming targeted towards helping women and girls from across Essex County thrive and become more self-sufficient. 

For 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TWF modified its application process. Historically, it has focused on financially supporting highly effective non-profit programs to support and educate women and girls. This year they offered 1-year, unrestricted grants of up to $10,000 to Essex County non-profit organizations addressing the significant needs and impacts of COVID-19 and the societal inequities as they relate to women and girls.

The pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income women, women of color, and their children. In choosing this year’s grantees as the region transitions to COVID recovery, TWF looked for local nonprofit partners uniquely positioned to help local women and children not only regroup, but thrive. 

TWF received an unprecedented 167% increase in applications compared to last year from non-profit organizations of various sizes, with funding requests totaling $546,000. After a detailed review and assessment, the Fund was able to fulfill 46% of the requests, selecting 37 organizations for funding from over 20 cities and towns across the region. 

In addition, earlier this year, TWF dispersed $25,000 in Emergency Food Insecurity grants to empower five community organizations delivering highly valuable services that safeguard Essex County’s women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. 

“COVID-19 created so many overwhelming needs throughout our community, but with an estimated 65% of Massachusetts’s frontline workers being women, they were being hit the hardest,” says Elaine Quinn, president of the advisory board of The Women’s Fund. “Because the pandemic disproportinately impacted low-income women, we realized the highest impact we could have, especially at this moment, was to create more opportunities for our nonprofit partners to support them, their families, and communities,” adds Quinn. “We are proud to provide unrestricted funds to incredible local organizations that continue to work for those that are the most vulnerable to the economic and social implications of the pandemic and beyond.” 

The following organizations were awarded one-time unrestricted grants from TWF to assist them through the COVID-19 pandemic, with the hopes that these funds will primarily help women and girls in Essex County: 

Amirah, Inc., Lynn | for the newly opened Community Resource Center to support sexually trafficked women. 

Anna Jaques Community Health Foundation, Newburyport | to fund a Patient Care Advocate for vulnerable pregnant women. 

Beverly Hospital, Beverly | for continued support for the ‘Young Mothers and their Babies’ program. 

Beyond Soccer, Lawrence | to launch ‘Beyond Volleyball,’ a new athletic, tutoring, and mentorship program for at-risk girls, based on the successful ‘Beyond Soccer’ model. 

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, Essex County | to support new Big Sister | Little Sister matches and resources throughout Essex County. 

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill, Greater Haverhill | to assistance in increasing operating hours and food assistance for kids and families in need. 

Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Lawrence | to continue and expand programs for kids with longer hours and increased numbers. 

Budget Buddies, Gloucester, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn | for financial literacy mentorship program specifically designed to assist lower-income women and their families. 

Centerboard, Lynn | for additional funding for women-led families to encourage them to successfully exit shelter in Lynn and establish their own household. 

Ellie Fund, Essex County | to support free critical support services for breast cancer patients in Essex County who struggle to manage treatment access. 

Essex County Community Organization, Lynn, Saugus, Peabody, Beverly, Gloucester | for leadership development training programs for immigrant women. 

Essex County Habitat for Humanity, Lawrence, Salisbury, Wenham | to provide the ability to complete three homes for single mothers and their families with handicap requirements. 

Family Promise, Essex County | for the homeless prevention program and long-term case management. 

Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence | to a program to help families access healthier food choices. 

Harvey Girls, Lawrence, Methuen, Andover | to support the only non-shelter- based program which provides used clothing and toiletries to women and families in need in the Merrimack Valley 

HAWC-Healing Abuse Working for Change, Essex County | to strengthen triage services for victims of domestic violence. 

Jeanne Geiger Crisis, Newburyport, Haverhill | to expand and strengthen wrap-around support programs and case management for domestic abuse victims.

Lawrence Family Development & Ed Fund, Lawrence, Methuen | to support the SISU program, which supports young women aged 16 to 24 years who are identified by the court system as being vulnerable to incarceration. 

Lawrence Partnership, Lawrence | for dedicated employment assistance for the Cafecitas Networking and Mentorship (LatinX) program.

LEAP for Education, Salem, Lynn | to increase the number of students served, especially girls and young women, as well as address and eliminate inequities in educational and career opportunities.

Lifebridge, Salem, Beverly | support specific for unattached homeless women in the North Shore who may not have other options for shelter that utilize organization’s day drop in shelters.

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Lynn | to fund homelessness prevention and advocacy programs working to create lasting solutions to poverty and its impact on homelessness in Essex County.

Merrimack Valley Immigrant and Education Center, Lawrence, Methuen, Haverhill | funding for programs to support low-income immigrants (60% women) assimilate and achieve citizenship, specifically ESL, citizenship, and financial literacy classes, as well as helping clients, many of whom are elders, to obtain health insurance, access food banks/food stamps and affordable housing.

North Shore Community Development Coalition, Salem | to implement free WIFI service in “The Point” neighborhood in Salem, a concentrated group of over 400 low-income housing units. Access to free WIFI will address many issues including social, health and economic, that have been further exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. 

Our Neighbor’s Table, Amesbury, Byfield, Newburyport, Groveland | for grocery programs to help alleviate food security where 57% women of clients are women, over 2/3 served are female head of households, from young students to retired women, widows, victims of domestic violence, and other women in crisis.

Pathways Adult Education & Training, Lynn, Salem | for workforce development programs for those living below the poverty line and immigrants new to the community.

Raw Art Works, Lynn | to fund innovative girls’ art therapy programs that are even more critical to this specific population now with mental health issues of teen girls rising dramatically during the pandemic.

Self-Esteem Boston, Lawrence, Lynn | to continue to fund recovery support services for women at risk or incarcerated women in the Lynn & Lawrence area.

SeniorCare, Cape Ann | for technology consulting support for seniors who are housebound and in need of help with computer/phone training.

The Food Project, Lynn, Beverly, Wenham | to simultaneously fund youth development and urban agriculture programs which provides food for local food pantries.

The Open Door, Cape Ann | to support initiatives to address food insecurity in the community.

The Salem Pantry, Greater North Shore | for food storage improvements which will aid in the supplying of other community food pantries overwhelmed with increased demands.

Three Sisters Garden Project, Ipswich, Rowley, Boxford, Gloucester | for programs that specifically raise organic and healthy foods for Essex County food pantries. 

Uncommon Threads, Lawrence | to help fund the self-esteem program for financially disadvantaged women trying to get back in the workforce by supplying coaching and clothing.

YMCA of North Shore, North Shore | to fund a Learning Pod, a program for children in grades K-5. With some children at the Y for the entire day and some after school, the program provides social emotional support to young children.

YWCA Newburyport, Newburyport, Amesbury | for childcare services for impoverished women, specifically to provide 37 women the chance to keep working during this pandemic and beyond.

YWCA Northeastern Mass, Greater Lawrence | to support the YWCA’s Women Health Services programs which help women secure healthcare services they and their families need to stay healthy. 

To learn more about the work of The Women’s Fund of Essex County and ways to get involved or support this all- volunteer organization, visit