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Anonymous donors support women students, college presidents

JRF | Jun 22 2009 |

Funding for Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund comes from donations large and small. Some donors use named scholarships to honor friends and relatives; others support our general fund so that we can continue to administer scholarships as efficiently as possible.

Many of our donors tell us a little bit about themselves, including the reasons they share our commitment to women’s education. But in some cases, they let their donation do the talking. This spring, an anonymous donor stepped forward (through an intermediary, of course) to provide a $20,000 donation to support JRF scholarships.

A donation of this size is especially helpful this year, given the tough economic climate. The struggling national economy creates a perfect storm for organizations like JRF: endowments and donations are down, and the need for college funding is up, as laid-off workers return to school. As we mentioned below, this trend played out in our office, in the form of a 39% increase in scholarship applications. Our generous anonymous donor enabled us to maintain our commitment to provide 80 scholarships to outstanding students across the country.

Our experience with anonymous giving led us to follow another story about philanthropy and women’s education. Over the past several months, an anonymous donor has given more than $100 million to at least 15 colleges and universities. A portion of the gift is usually reserved for scholarships for women and minority students, and, most interestingly, all of the colleges are led by women.

Speculation on the Mystery Donor’s identity abounds. Maybe it’s a controversial celebrity or disgraced Wall Street financier, hoping to spare the colleges guilt by association. Maybe it’s a giving circle, ensuring that, as Brian O’Rourke speculates in USA Today, “women presidents in higher education are successful.” Maybe it’s Oprah. (A spokesperson for Oprah says it isn’t. But of course, that’s what a spokesperson would say.) The colleges themselves agreed not to investigate the donor’s identity; one school, Binghamton University, originally interpreted the request for anonymity so strictly that they didn’t even plan to announce the gift, until they realized it was part of a pattern.

Here at JRF, we sort of like the anonymity, both of Binghamton’s mystery donor and our own, no-less-important mystery donor. Of course we would like to say thank you, and tell our donor about the wonderful scholars their gift supports. But we also like that these donations say, in effect, “It’s not about who I am. I could be anyone, because supporting women in higher education is important to all of us.”

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JRF scholar Melissa Brooks earns BS

JRF | Jun 19 2009 |

JRF scholar Melissa Brooks wrote to us recently with great news: she has finished the coursework for her Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, and she’ll receive her diploma from Franklin University in August! Melissa will join us for the Annual Dinner on Sept 17th at The Classic Center here in Athens to tell us more about her education and the role JRF played in her life.

In her letter, Melissa said, “The encouragement and assistance you have extended has made the difference in my life and the lives of my children.” In addition to completing her degree, Melissa recently accepted a new job as Director of Human Resources at Arkansas State University – Mountain Home. She writes, “This position will provide an increase in pay and other benefits that will greatly improve our lives in many ways. These two milestones in my life go hand-in-hand, and were both made possible through your dedication to improving the lives of others.”

Melissa told us, “I want you to know the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship has made a dramatic difference in our lives. This would not have been possible without your commitment to providing opportunity and support to others. I do believe this story exemplifies the reason Jeannette Rankin decided to promote educational opportunities. She understood the message embedded in the current ASUMH motto, ‘Creating opportunities, changing lives.’ And that is exactly what you have done for me.”

We agree completely; Melissa embodies the values of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation. Her success is a testament to her hard work and dedication. We can’t wait to hear more about Melissa’s accomplishments as a student, a professional, and a mother.

Melissa joins a long line of women who have earned degrees as JRF scholars. Congratulations, Melissa!

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JRF applications increase 39%

JRF | Jun 12 2009 |

As the 2009 selection process winds down, JRF has started to assemble a few facts and figures about our 2009 applications.

The most striking is the 39% increase in applications from 2008. 834 women applied for scholarships this year, up from 601 in 2008.

We aren’t surprised at the increased interest in our scholarship program; in tough economic climates, more women return to school as a result of lay-offs or under-employment, and other sources of funding become harder to find. But we didn’t realize how dramatic the increase would be.

Our generous donors provided funds for 80 scholarships, and a group of dedicated volunteers went above and beyond the call of duty to help us complete the selection process.

We’ll be sending letters to 2009 scholars in the coming days. Keep checking back to learn more about the outstanding students in the 2009 scholar class!

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JRF joins WCFS

JRF | Jun 12 2009 |

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund is proud to announce that we’ve joined Women, Children, and Family Service Charities of America. WCFS is an umbrella organization made up of charities and foundations serving women and families. WCFS member organizations provide scholarships, job training, and family counseling, aid survivors of domestic violence and child abuse, and research and lobby on family life issues.

By joining WCFS, the foundation becomes an approved charity for the Combined Federal Campaign. If you’re a federal employee, you can now designate JRF for a payroll donation.

We’re excited to be counted among so many great organizations working to improve the lives of women and families.

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JRF scholar selected for AAUW award

JRF scholar selected for AAUW award

JRF | May 05 2009 |

Rose Bahr, JRF scholar for 2007-2009, was recently selected as the recipient of the AAUW Ashland branch’s undergraduate scholarship. The AAUW is a national organization that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. Each year, AAUW Ashland raises money to award scholarships to local women with inspiring stories of struggle and success. Congratulations to Rose, who is a criminology major at Southern Oregon University with a 3.96 GPA.

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