We had a full house at the January 14 Annual Members Meeting where enthusiasm and appreciation ruled the day. Photo courtesy of Bari Williams
Hugs, smiles and laughter were abundant as 150 Impact100 Sonoma members gathered to greet old friends and new and to discover that, once again, we have a record number of members – 290! That means that in May we will be able to award $290,000 in grants to support nonprofits serving Sonoma Valley. It really is extraordinary. Impact100 Sonoma began with 110 women awarding $110,000 in 2010 and membership has grown every year since. By the end of this year, we will have awarded $1,756,000. No wonder the smiles were so broad!
At the Annual Meeting, held at Vintage House on January 14, members received an update from our 2016 $100,000 Impact Grant recipient, 10,000 Degrees, and they also heard about new initiatives, updates on the grant-making process, budgetary matters and accolades that Impact100 Sonoma has received.
Lisa Carreño, 10,000 Degrees Regional Director for Sonoma County, and Chinna Ford, a 10,000 Degrees alum and now the Sonoma Valley College Advisor, shared some personal stories as well as what has been accomplished since receiving the grant. Lisa expressed their thanks “on behalf of the students we are currently serving. We hear from students often that they don’t believe in themselves until 10,000 Degrees believes in them. That only happens because people like all of you invest in our efforts.”
2016 Impact Grant recipient 10,000 Degrees’ Chinna Ford and Lisa Carreño gave an update. Photo courtesy of Bari Williams
Chinna went on to describe the week-long 2016 Summer Institute held on the campus of St. Mary’s College and the bi-weekly meetings at the high schools, during which juniors research possible college choices and begin to gain the confidence needed to envision a college pathway. Seniors meet on a weekly basis to work on college and financial aid applications. Currently, there are 21 juniors and 16 seniors participating in the program at Sonoma Valley High School, plus 10 juniors at Archbishop Hanna High School, with 22 seniors also receiving one-on-one support. 10,000 Degrees students continue to receive individual counseling until they graduate from college and many then become ambassadors for the program.
President Wendy Hoffman offered her congratulations to 10,000 Degrees and then reflected on all that Impact100 Sonoma has accomplished. She described our organization as the smallest of the 39 current Impact100 giving circles, but one that is “fanning the flames of collective giving.” We belong to two national umbrella organizations, the Impact100 Council and the Women’s Collective Giving Network (WCGN), and as she attends these two global conferences, she often hears comments about our Sonoma group – “love your website“, “love your Profiles of Impact”. She is also asked about our innovative Community Grants program, which has inspired other Impact groups to implement similar programs in their communities.
Wendy described the priorities that the board has set for 2016/17:
- Grant-making process – simplify and increase clarity and consistency
- Operations – aim for efficiency (technology, processes, data management, communication)
- Membership – increase cultural and age diversity; enhance membership experience
Treasurer Susan Porth reviewed the 2017 budget expenses and how we fund those expenses. “Because all of the $1,000 donated by each Impact100 Sonoma member goes directly to grants, we are extremely grateful for the generosity of members, friends, and community partners who provide in-kind services and donations that support Impact100 activities and help defray the administrative costs of the organization.”
Diana Sanson, Grants Oversight Chair, provided a snapshot of improved grant application and review processes. Key adjustments have been made to the grant structures to better meet our community needs:
- For the Impact Grant, the grant-spending time has been increased from two years to three, and all finalists will receive an unrestricted $10,000 merit grant.
- For Community Grants, the maximum grant award has been increased from $15,000 to $20,000.
In addition, there have been changes to the grant review committee process with a simplification of the activities and the addition of evaluation tools. The anticipated end result will be fewer finalists for the full membership vote.
During the past year, the grants team, under the guidance of member Amy Rassen, reviewed where our grant dollars go to identify any trends in our seven years of grant-making.
Gera Vaz, Membership Chair, besides announcing our new record membership number, shared additional achievements: an increase in the number of members from the Kenwood and Glen Ellen areas and an increase in the number of young members. The latter is primarily the result of a new initiative – the NextGen Program, co-chaired by Meghan Marsh King and Mary Marcussen.
Meghan explained that “the NextGen Program was created to give the next generation of women – particularly those who may not have the financial resources – an opportunity to become Impact100 Sonoma members and engage with the community through service and responsible stewardship. The program aims to empower young women to be allied ambassadors for a generation dedicated to giving and serving Sonoma Valley, and beyond.” She explained the application and vetting process and benefits, and then introduced the five women who comprise our first NextGen cohort. Pictured below from left to right are:
- Chelsie Runnings, Licensed Real Estate Agent at Real Estate Referral Solutions; Assistant at Coldwell Banker; and Legal Assistant at Tillem, McNichol & Brown
- Gail Chadwin, Head of Donor Relations for Seeds of Learning
- Angela Ryan, Fundraising Specialist
- Chanel Ruiz-Bricco, former Executive Director at Extraordinary Ventures
- Lauren Jolly, 1st grade teacher at Sassarini Elementary School
Mary explained the added benefits of having a diverse membership of women who reflect our community and how it supports our mission. She told members how they can support the NextGen Program as well as other opportunities to increase the number of young women in our organization, such as member-to-member sponsorships. Impact100 Sonoma also received a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation to support two young women who are active in the community and interested in philanthropy. Mary introduced the recipients of this grant:
- Veronica Vences, Program Director at La Luz, and
- Susana Garcia, Family Engagement Director at Parent University.
Susana Garcia, right, one of two recipients of the Morgridge Family Foundation Grant celebrates with member Kathy Bloch at the Annual Meeting. Photo courtesy of Bari Williams
As the result of these membership opportunities, in 2017 we have 20 young women as full voting members of Impact100 Sonoma.
In closing, Wendy shared even more good news. Assemblyman Bill Dodd awarded Impact100 Sonoma the 2016 Community Champion Award in recognition of our efforts to help sustain and expand the work that local nonprofit organizations do to build a stronger community. When asked why he selected Impact100 for this award, the Assemblyman said “Impact100 Sonoma perfectly embodies the philanthropic spirit of Sonoma Valley.”
This Annual Meeting clearly indicated that he is correct.
Written by Judy Scotchmoor