An Endowed Fund to Power the Future

Fund for Women and Girls

When a woman thrives, a family thrives. When a family thrives, a community thrives.

Why This Matters

Across the nation, funds like these are proving to be effective strategies for tackling economic disparities, opening doors to educational opportunities, and improving the quality of life for all.

Even with decades of good work, there's still a long way to go, particularly here at home.

  • 17% of women in Santa Cruz County, including 40% of Latina single mothers, live in poverty.
  • 55% of single mothers with less than a high school diploma are in poverty.
  • In 2015, 7th grade girls in Pajaro Valley middle schools reported chronic feelings of hopelessness (34%), decreased connection to school (56%), and a drop in their academic motivation (45%).
  • In 2015, only 56% of graduating seniors from the Pajaro Valley met eligibility requirements for the University of California or California State University systems.
  • Latina girls are most at risk with the lowest graduation rate and making up 92% of teen mothers.

Selected Data Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, California Women's Well-Being Index, Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project, California Healthy Kids Survey, HealthyCity [dot] org

About the Fund

Created in 2016, this $2.5 million endowed fund is meant to boost the economic growth of the county by supporting the educational and career success of local women and girls. The fund was started with a $1.5 million gift from an anonymous donor and an additional $500,000 challenge grant. We met the challenge with many large and small additional gifts. The Fund is invested to make grants for women and girls—forever.

The first grants from the fund include the Girls Paving the Way Initiative, Girls Inc, Salud y Carino, and other community programs for girls to support education, healthy development, and to provide leadership activities.

Girls in Pajaro Valley Initiative

Initial Progress

Girls Paving the Way Initiative

A grant of $450,000 has been made to the UC Santa Cruz Educational Partnership Center to launch the initiative through a collaboration involving the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and other local community partners.

The goal of the three year extracurricular pilot program is to ready 35 participating girls in middle school (grades 6 through 8) for college or technical school and contribute to their future success. We aim to learn what works for our local girls and use what we learn in future grantmaking.

For our daughters and other young girls, middle school is a time for transition and change. Peer influence grows, conflicts with parents and adults intensify, and social and gender identity are explored. We see it as a time in a young woman's life where we can make a difference (like the one shared in the video below).

You can support women and girls in Santa Cruz County.

Donate Today

Questions? Contact our Program Officer, Ana Espinoza, at 831.662.2073 or aespinoza@cfscc.org.