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Working Together to Raise the Grade for Women

Working Together to Raise the Grade for Women

When I was in elementary school report cards were handwritten and grades were recorded in blue or black ink.

I remember this because of a few bad decisions I made in the fourth grade. I fell way behind in Math. The kind of falling behind that starts slow but in a subject like Math can be hard to make up if you don’t acknowledge it.

I was always described as one of those kids who tested well but just didn’t apply herself- and this made my parents frustrated with me.

I didn’t want my Mom and Dad to find out I was behind so I intercepted notes and other communications to keep my secret all in hopes that somehow, I would magically catch up.

I didn’t, and soon it was time for the blue ink report cards that each student delivered by hand to their parents.

When I opened it I somehow just hoped that the Math grade would be ok- which was unrealistic because I had taken no action to make it better.

The report card revealed A’s and B’s and one big fat D in Math.

I was desperate and instead of just admitting what was happening, I attempted to use a pen and morph the D to a B.

I know you are wondering, how could I think that would work? I was 9 and not thinking straight.

Of course, I was caught and you can imagine what happened as a result. But amongst the punishments and accountability I also landed a tutor that worked with me to raise the grade.

Last week at the annual Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) contributors luncheon I was faced with another grade I didn’t want to see and I wished changing it could happen with a swipe of my trusty blue pen.

Every year I look forward to meeting with the hundreds of contributors of the Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF),, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community who are dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in our region.

This isn’t a fundraising lunch, but rather a working lunch of individual philanthropists pooling their resources to create change.

This year WLF contributors will direct $30,000 to a nonprofit working on a cause the group selects based on data and dialogue presented at the luncheon.

This data dive brings me back to my grade angst. This time it wasn’t Math, but the D+ assigned to Florida via the results of the 2016 Status of Women in Florida by County: Poverty and Opportunity Report, and a new Economic Status of Women in Florida fact sheet released in March. We use these reports to help shape our luncheon discussion.

The report and fact sheet were released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in partnership with the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance of which the SWFLCF is a member along with many other Women’s Foundations in the region and across the state.

According to a press release from our partners at the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida this most recent grade for women’s employment and earnings has dropped the state from the middle to the worst third in the nation in this area. That grade has declined since 2004.

But the contributors at last week’s luncheon believe change is possible. At facilitated table discussions they considered increasing access and attainment to education opportunities for women and girls and more vibrant opportunities for women who want to start their own businesses.

They are hoping their work and that of others engaged in the study will help raise the grade which translates to better economic status for women.

The group will be seeking ideas from local nonprofits on improving opportunities in one of these two cause areas.

If you would like to be part of creating this change, become a contributor to the WLF and we can work on this together. There is more information on our website at

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $115 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit


For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit




Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!