Laury Scharff on Making a Difference for Women and Girls

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About 10 years ago, Amy Harlan told Laury Scharff about the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore (JWGF), a giving circle of women who leverage their dollars to make charitable contributions to improve the lives of women and girls locally and internationally.

Harlan, a JWGF member, raved about the opportunity to effect real change and spoke about how wonderful it was to make these decisions with a group of women who are passionate about making a difference. Scharff signed on and today is chair of JWGF, a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

What’s special about JWGF? First of all, our mission is to focus on women and girls. Did you know that funding for women and girls by private foundations is staggeringly low? It hovers around seven percent of all monies granted.

Second, we are about the power of collective and democratic philanthropy. Each member contributes $1,000, which pooled together creates the donor fund of over $140,000, distributed to selected programs based on members’ votes.

What have you learned? We all know there is tremendous need in our community. Attending site visits of prospective grantees and foundation-sponsored education programs is eye opening. For example, there are hundreds of elderly, Jewish women living alone in Baltimore with very limited resources. We are funding, for a second year, the JCC’s Senior Connection Initiative, which provides weekly lunches and programming for these otherwise isolated women. For many, this program is their only opportunity to socialize and be meaningfully engaged.

Other programs? This year we are planning a Financial 101 workshop to provide our members with the tools to read financial data for making informed grant-making decisions. We are also hoping to participate in a Poverty Simulation.

Poverty simulation? It’s an interactive activity where we each take on an assigned role so that we can begin to understand the realities of poverty. Click to read entire article.

Did you change someone’s life for the better today? Every supporter of The Associated did. ‘One act of generosity can resonate for generations’. To learn more  go to

The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

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