GIVE When You’re Young

By Zoe Lawhorn

The Women’s Fund of Smith County believes that “together is better.” In our mission statement, we describe our goals as a collective giving circle. We want to transform our community by enriching the lives of women and children, and we do that by awarding impact grants to Smith County nonprofits who serve women in children.

One of the most exciting ways we carry our mission forward is by mentoring high school-aged girls through our initiative called GIVE (Girls Invested in Volunteer Efforts). Through this meaningful program, high school girls (grades 9 – 12) experience the joy of collective giving and grant-making. Our activities reflect the Women’s Fund model of collective giving, which in basic terms is very simple: we all give an annual monetary pledge, our contributions are combined in one big pot, and through our annual grants process, we identity nonprofits who qualify for grants awards.

GIVE has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years to a group of over 50 local high school girls who are committed to making a difference in their community. Last year, GIVE awarded its largest grant ever, over $12,000 dollars, to The Gold Network of East Texas. Just like the Women’s Fund, the girls meet monthly to organize their fundraising efforts; then they begin to explore and learn about nonprofit services in Smith County, as well as the populations they serve.

By the end of the school year, the girls will have raised substantial funds and will have determined the organization that they want to impact through their collective giving.

As the new school year approaches, our 2023-2024 GIVE class is forming, and we would love to invite your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces to join this awesome group of girls for a life-changing experience. By introducing our youth to philanthropy, we cultivate compassion and generosity, values that help shape the futures of these incredible young ladies.

At once-a-month gatherings during the school year, girls will:

  • Gain a better understanding of philanthropy
  • Become more aware of community issues
  • Volunteer together and give together to transform lives

But the depth of this experience goes even further. Learning about philanthropy has many long-lasting impacts. By learning about other people’s needs, we gain a greater sense of empathy and compassion. This leads to a greater sense of social responsibility, but perhaps even more importantly, GIVE offers girls the tools they need to truly make a difference in the lives of those in need. These experiences empower our girls to see a need and meet it with a solution.

GIVE is helping to build up and empower young women to be difference-makers in our community – now and as they grow to become future leaders. Our community needs compassionate and responsible leaders who prioritize the well-being of others. By instilling philanthropic values in young minds, we lay the foundation for a generation of leaders who prioritize social impact, ethical decision-making, and the greater good.

And let’s not forget about college admissions! GIVE offers girls an incredible, unique opportunity to build their college resumes with experiences that stand out to admissions professionals. When it comes time to write college essays, your child’s time with GIVE will offer rich and meaningful subject matter that stands out, demonstrates character and compassion, and shows a unique commitment to community that will benefit your child in a college setting.

Our goal is to have a diverse group of high school girls, representing all schools in Smith County, and we are getting very close! We know that everyone has something unique to contribute to our group, and we are (as we say) better together. Each girl brings different talents and perspectives. By uniting girls from all backgrounds, the focus becomes a shared vision and a shared hope for a better community. Serving, learning, and giving together brings about positive change – for our community and for each individual member of GIVE.

If you are interested in learning more about GIVE, please check out our website at www.womensfundsc.org/give. Or feel free to call us at (903) 509-1771. GIVE is open to any high school aged girl – with a giving heart!

Zoe Lawhorn serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving circle of more than 350 women with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. Any woman with a giving heart is welcome to join our organization. Please visit www.womensfundsc.org for information about membership and outreach.