Strength in numbers
The members of Women & Philanthropy pool their resources to create maximum impact in the lives of Ohio State researchers and students such as Sarah Parker.
Alex Reed ’15 joined Women & Philanthropy because she’d recently moved back to Columbus and was ready to give something back to the alma mater she loves. She didn’t expect to receive so much in return, starting with a warm welcome at her first event.
“A founding member approached me and welcomed me,” she says. “I’m able to have an active voice alongside them, and I think that’s what I appreciated right away.”
Women & Philanthropy, a giving-circle style organization at Ohio State, is composed of a couple hundred women who feel the same way — ready to seize a seat at the table and leverage it to its fullest, surrounded by kindred spirits. All members pay an annual membership fee, which is collected in a central pot and given to deserving projects proposed by faculty and staff at the university and to students such as Sarah Parker, who is the recipient of a $28,000 scholarship ($7,000 a year for four years) from the group. Every year, the pot is emptied and filled again. As the group grows larger, so do opportunities to support research, projects and students. Members have invested $2.07 million in student scholarships and research grants since the group was founded in 2006, and they awarded $193,000 in grants and scholarships in the 2018–19 membership year, including two $28,000 scholarships to incoming female students.
You get not only the knowledge of what goes on with the university, but you also get to meet the scholarship recipients and see what an impact it’s made for them. Debra Davis ’81
Faculty and staff who apply for grant funding are selected to present their proposals to Women & Philanthropy membership. In these gatherings, it’s clear both sides are gaining — researchers are appealing directly to potential investors, and members are learning yet another something new about the institution they already know so well.
“You can contribute to different causes, and very worthy causes, but in the case of Women & Philanthropy, you actually get something back, something personal. You get not only the knowledge of what goes on with the university, but you also get to meet the scholarship recipients and see what an impact it’s made for them,” says Debra Davis ’81, chair of the group’s scholarship committee and a 10-year member of Women & Philanthropy. Members also pursue leadership opportunities, forge stronger professional networks and create mentor–mentee bonds.
When it comes to awarding scholarships, group members are looking not only for a bright, promising student in need — they’re looking for someone propelled by the greater good. “These are women who we think will have considerable positive impact on society as they graduate and move forward,” says Carol Newcomb, Women & Philanthropy chair. “Sarah Parker has combined her artistic skills with science. It is this type of interdisciplinary approach at Ohio State that will lead to future change and innovation.”