You probably see lots of ads and articles about school and education. Some include the tantalizing number $5730. That particular number refers to is the maximum federal Pell Grant for school, available to all who are eligible.
That's great if you're looking for money for school, but what about other women's activities? Fortunately the world of grants specifically for women includes as well as lots of other interests and activities.
There are grants for many more areas of a woman’s life. These grants and awards may involve going to school, returning to school, starting or running a business, trying to make it in politics, ending violence against women, protecting women’s health, expressing yourself through art, increasing the accessibility of quality child care and more.
It’s not easy - but it is possible - to get a grant. You need to look in the right places, know what it takes to be eligible, and understand how to apply. You need not to waste your time. Here are some resources worth your time:
Discover your program today!
Update February 2018
Just another heads up to be on the lookout for promises that sound too good to be true. And that's especially pertinent if the promises are accompanied by a fee. If someone is really offering a grant, there will not be a fee involved. So don't be tricked into providing a lot of personal information (for future ad targeting….) and/or paying a fee to get information that you can find for free. And don't get discouraged when something sounds promising but is just another promotion for helping you get a Pell Grant. That's an awesome education related grant but you can easily find out if you qualify for a pell grant on your own – and for free.
Update August 2017 Hey great news for women, especially those with business start-ups! Hearst Corporation (owner of businesses like Esquire and Cosmopolitan) is starting an “incubator”— an outfit that helps new businesses — that is solely for women-owned startups. The incubator is called HearstLab and it has already provided around $5 million through its investments in 11 companies. They haven’t identified a specific investment number they want to hit but they would like to support around ten companies each year. And annually they expect to invest somewhere between $2.5 and $5 million. Individual investments tend to range between one quarter and half a million dollars.
May 2017 Update OK this isn’t actually a grant but — it’s money for shopping and that frees up other funds for projects you might spend a grant on. Plus it’s fun! Cost Plus World Market is currently running the “Amazing Women Sweepstakes”. It’s very easy to enter and you could win a $2500 shopping spree for yourself and a $2500 spree for another woman in your life. There’s also three additional “first prizes” of a $500 World Market Gift Card. Plus, they are donating 10% of their sale of jewelry to the American Cancer Society in the month of May. You don’t have to buy anything to enter, just give them your email address and other info like your phone number. And you have to be 18 years old or more and a resident of the 50 U.S. states plus DC. Act now because entries have to be submitted by June 4. Plus you can enter every day to increase your chance of winning. Good luck!
Update November 2016 If you are outside the United States or wish to help a women’s group that is, the Global Fund for Women may be of interest to you. This organization awards grants to women-led groups that are located outside the U.S. and whose work is focused on women’s equality and on human rights. Grants range from $5000 to $30,000 per year, and grants to new organizations typically range between $5000 and $13000. In order to be eligible to apply the group must be outside the U.S.; its activities must clearly reflect a focus on the equality of women and human rights (note these activities cannot be focused solely on raising money and/or providing assistance to individuals); a group of women working together, not an individual — and not a group working to provide benefits like scholarships to individual women; and the group must be totally led, governed and managed by women. If all this applies to your group take a look at globalfundforwomen.org.
Update August 2016 Did you know that each year August 26th has been proclaimed as “Women's Equality Day”? It celebrates the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, giving women (finally) the right to vote. We take that for granted now much as we are now used to women being in all professions and political positions. But … the playing field isn't level in areas like business, where men still find it much easier than women to find capital for a new or existing business. Women's Equality Day won't change that but lots of agencies and organizations will probably offer special deals – and maybe even grants – on or around that day, so be alert and on the lookout. And if you're looking for business loan maybe that would be a good day to talk to your local community bank…
Note: This article is just one of the resources on this site devoted to grants, loans, scholarships and other financial assistance for women. Be sure to see the “Additional Resources” section at the end of this article!
Though the majority of grants listed on the central grant database grants.gov are not for individuals, there are always some that are. You can go to the site, click Search Grants at the top, enter “women” in the Keywords, and in the left column check “Individuals.” You will probably get a lot of results — and probably a lot of them will be nothing you are interested in. But — you never know, and it doesn’t take long to skim through the short summaries you will see. For example, right now (January 2016) there is a grant available to individuals through the “Pulbic Diplomacy Small Grants program.” An individual may apply for funding for proposed projects designed to increase “respect and understanding” between our countries. Some topic areas are suggested in the summary, including encouraging U.S.-Congolese business cooperation, improving English language fluency through teaching and teacher training programs, and more. The topics are pretty broad so if you have a desire to travel, have some new experiences and share relevant expertise you might want to give it a shot. At any rate you may find unexpected opportunities if you take some time to search this massive database.
The following grants and fellowships have a specific focus on education and careers:
Going Back to School: We get many inquiries from women who want and need to go back to school to finish their education. Often they are supporting a family and/or wanting to improve their qualifications for a new career. There are some private organizations that focus on helping women do just that. They may offer smaller awards than other programs but sometimes that can be just what it takes to afford further schooling. And small awards add up! One such award — up to $3000 is provided by the Philanthropic Educational Organization. Take a look at their website and fill out an application to see if you might qualify.
American Association of University Women: focuses on increasing opportunities for women through education and career development and support. Each year they award several million dollars to women for that purpose. Depending on the category, individual awards range from $2,000 to $30,000 in six categories:
- American Fellowships: for U.S. citizens doing graduate and post-doc work (e.g. research, preparing dissertations, etc.);
- International Fellowships: for non-U.S. citizens pursuing graduate and post-doc studies in the U.S.;
- Career Development Grants: for women who received their Bachelors Degree at least 5 years ago and are studying to enhance or change their careers or re-enter the workforce.
- Community Action Grants: individuals, UUAW branches and non-profits qualify for these grants for innovative projects or research supporting education and advancement of women and girls;
- International Project Grants: for alumnae of AAUW’s International Fellowships conducting relevant projects in their home countries; and
- Selected Professions and Fellowships: for graduate or professional degree studies in areas where women are underrepresented.
Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting offers scholarships for undergraduate and advanced studies in accounting. It is worth taking a look at their website (efwa.org) if accounting is your area as they offer a number of scholarships.
Two of their scholarships are for women who are the sole source of support for their families. If you are a single mom, divorced, or widowed and have any interest in accounting, these may be of particular interest to you:
Women in Transition: for women as described above who are entering their freshman year and studying for a Bachelors degree in Accounting. ($16,000 over four years) Women in Need: for women as described above who are completing their sophomore year in a program for getting a Bachelors degree in Accounting. ($2,000 per year for two years)
Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund: Named for the first woman elected to Congress (1916), this organization is also targeted for “older” (35+) women who are trying to successfully return to school. Eligibility is determined based on income for the coming year. Over $2 million has been awarded to qualifying women since 1978.
Live Your Dream Awards from the Soroptimist organization are also for women who are the primary source of support for their families. Women are eligible if they are in need financially, are attending (or have been accepted to attend) a career training program or undergraduate degree program and are not a soroptimist member.
Several organizations focus on justice for women in the areas of economic equity, health, an end to sexual abuse and violence against women, and more. Most of their grants are made to organizations and are often “by invitation only.”
If you are a 501©(3) organization that works in one or more of these areas you will find a useful resource at VAWnet.org. The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, whose website is funded by the Department of Health & Human Services, provides a searchable database of funding opportunities (typically grants). Searches may be specific to categories or by state. Users can also sign up to receive funding alerts via email.
The eWomen Foundation is a non-profit that supports other organizations focused on the health, emotional well-being and safety of women and children. Local chapters raise funds throughout the year and award them to charitable groups in their area. Their award package includes $6000 in cash and they also sponsor one person from the grantee organization to attend their International Conference and Business Expo. Applicants must be certified 501©(3)’s and meet various other criteria specified on their website (ewomennetworkfoundation.org).
The Girlboss Foundation provides grants to women (and female-idand entifying) entrepreneurs specifically in the creative community (design, music and the arts, fashion). They award to applicants based on information about the nature of their projects, the amount of money they need and an explanation of the ultimate goal of the project. They also need to see a sample of the applicant’s work. They prefer that proposed projects would be completed within one year. Awards are for $15,000 and winners are notified by email. Get additional information about applying at the Girlboss Foundation website.
Chase Bank runs a grant program called Mission Main Street Grants. It’s open to businesses that have been in business for at least two years. And you can’t have more than 99 employees. To apply you simply fallout an application which includes five essay questions. Check out their web site for more and stay tuned for more information about their 2916 program. See more information about business grants for women.
The Organization for Research on Women and Communication is dedicated to scholarly activities related to women in general and in particular “feminism, gender, oppression, and social change.” Among other activities they make Research Grants available to members of ORWAC. These grants are intended to help feminist scholars conduct research or complete creative projects that add to the understanding of the complexities of women’s lives. The website (orwac.org) includes an online grant application as well as a list of previous grant winners and their research/creative project topics. A regular membership in ORWAC is $35/year.
The Deming Fund claims to be the “oldest feminist granting agency.” Their grants encourage and support individual feminists in the arts. Awards range from $500 to $1500 and are given twice yearly. Entries are reviewed by a volunteer board of judges.
Two categories are considered: the first, with a deadline in December, covers fiction, mixed genre, and visual arts. The second, ending in June, includes nonfiction and poetry. The work must “in some way focus on women.” (Entries require a $25 application fee.) More information is available on their website demingfund.org.
What are some of the areas that the Deming Fund will not award? The fund focuses primarily on writers and artists who are residents of Canada and the United States. They do not consider awards for any type of film work, music or performance-centered projects, scripts, or any works that are (or are going to be) self-published. They almost never award funds to groups and they also will not reach out to provide emergency funds to people in need. They also do not provide awards meant to assist with education financing. Applicants may win more than one award but if you have won a grant in the past you must wait at least five years before applying again.
The National League of American Pen Women is a professional group of women artists whose purpose is to “serve their communities through the arts.” As part of their mission they award two grants. One is a “Grant for Mature Women” and provides $1000 to a woman over 35 years old for work in the categories of Arts, Letters or Music (depending on the year). There is also the Helen Trueheart Cox Art Scholarhip for native Americans. This award is given to a female between the ages of 18-25 who is a member of a Native American Tribe. Application requirements are spelled out on their website nlapw.org. They also provide some information about contests and other awards in the arts available from other organizations.
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