In an effort to engage a new generation, the Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) has started The Young 100 (Y100) program. The new effort will strive to inspire people under the age of 40 to donate to the cause of helping girls and women exclusively in San Luis Obispo County through research, education and grants.
A field fund interest of the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County (SLOCCF), the WLF was established in 2003 by 100 philanthropic women dedicated to donating a $1,000 in one year to the fund. Now in its fifteen year, the endowment amounts to $1.2 million dollars and has awarded more than $225,000 in 46 grants since its inception. The non-profit has continued to recruit people to become legacy members by having them donate $1,000 in a year. They then can choose to become a sustaining legacy member by continuing to give $250 per year thereafter.
In much the same way the Y100 is offering people under 40 a way to become legacy members. However, to make it more palatable, the program enables participants to donate $28 a month for three year which totals $1,000 instead of a lump sum. However, the yearly $250 donation to garner the sustained legacy title remains the same.
“We’re trying to do what our foremothers did,” said Missy Reitner-Cameron, legacy member and founder of (iii) Design. “We’re challenging the community to say we need 100 people 40 or under to commit to doing this. And then we will grow it from there. People can still be part of the Young 100, but there is going a founding 100, similar to the founding legacy leaders.”
Currently, Reitner-Cameron, whose mother Linda Reitner is a founding legacy member of the WLF, says that there are already more than 30 people that have joined the Y100 since the program’s launch in Sept. 2017.
“I have always wanted to support the Women’s Legacy Fund, said Katy McGrath a Y100 founding member. “I like the idea that it is an endowment, so even small contributions will continue to grow over time and generations of girls will benefit as they become leaders, active community members, and mothers. I have a son and it is important that he sees me supporting an organization that respects and places value on girls and women and their contributions to society. The real clincher for me was the small monthly contributions over five years. They’re pretty palatable for a cinched single-mom budget.”
The fund operates as an endowment, which has advantages over a one-time gift. Monies given to an endowment are invested and continue to produce proceeds long after they have been donated something that Reitner-Cameron wants to stress. Endowments give an organization the opportunity to establish grants that can be given to different people or organizations throughout the years. Eventually, these types of funding tools will give much more than a one-time donation.
“This donation right now is going to be there forever,” said Reitner-Cameron
Reitner-Cameron is exploring different avenues to involve the younger generation in SLO County. The non-profit is reaching out to different community organizations in hopes to galvanize participation and educate people the existence and issues that women and girls face locally.
“[In order for] some of the younger community members to understand that women in our community are still having issues with binge drinking, sex trafficking, drugs, spousal abuse…” said Reitner-Cameron. “We do live in a wonderful place, but there are still things that go on here that are abysmal.”
Since 2016, the WLF has focused its efforts to address the issue of low self-esteem of girls and women in the SLO community. According to the report California Healthy Kids 2013-2014, chronic sadness is growing in youth. The report stated that more than forty percent of 9th-grade and 11th-grade girls said they felt so sad and/or hopeless almost every day for at least two weeks last year, they stopped doing some of their usual activities.
A 2015 study entitled What Do Women Need? Issues Impacting Women and Girls in San Luis Obispo County, found that the percent of binge drinking (defined the consumption of four or more alcoholic beverages at one occasion) by women over the age of 21 rose sharply in 2014 with 46% of those asked answering in the affirmative. San Luis Obispo County and Marin County had the highest percentage of binge drinking for females in all of California according to the study. The report also stated that binge drinking among teens is prevalent with twelve percent of ninth-grade girls and a quarter of eleventh-grade girls saying that they had participated in the activity.
WLF’s report also stated that “The rate of reported forcible rape in SLO County consistently exceeds the rate statewide. In 2013, the rate here was almost double that of the state (39 per 100,000 population versus 20 per 100,000 population statewide). Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties, with college-age populations similar to SLO County, also have higher rates of reported rape, compared to the rate statewide.”
“One of the things that we really want to do is to show people how much their money has helped women and girls in our community,” said Reitner-Cameron.
Early this year the WLF dedicated to assisting the Boys & Girls Club of North San Luis Obispo County by committing to award $40,000 over the course of three years to strengthen the current SMART Girls curriculum and other programs. SMART Girls is a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program designed to meet the developmental needs of girls in three age groups, spanning ages 8 to 18, according to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s website.
The WLF also awarded $15,000 to aide the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, a non-profit dedicated to enabling families to achieve economic stability. The money will go to a one-year program aimed at boosting self-esteem in high school and middle school girls in SLO County.
For more information on the Young 100, visit https://www.theyoung100.com/
For more information on the Women’s Legacy Fund, go to http://www.cfsloco.org/grant_womens.php.
This story was originally featured in SLOCountyBusinessMatters.com.
By Mark A. Diaz