Washington Area Women's Foundation

Wash Post: Rainmakers Grantee Partner does room makeovers for girls in Alexandria!

Things like this make me just love my job.

A few weeks ago, staff from The Hatcher Group, who help out with The Women’s Foundation’s public relations, came in to do hourly one-on-one sessions with select Grantee Partners that we thought would benefit from some training and technical assistance in media relations. 

This is all part of The Women’s Foundation’s approach to "beyond the check" grantmaking, wherein we not only provide grants to help our partners conduct their work, but also support them in doing that work more effectively and efficiently.

We started this particular capacity building effort last year at The Hatcher Group’s suggestion and it was a great success, with a number of the meetings leading to significant media coverage, such as that for Fair Fund around their work combatting human trafficking.

This year, they’ve worked their magic again, and yesterday, new Rainmakers Grantee Partner, The Art League–and their "Space of Her Own" program–were featured in a Washington Post story.

According to the story, Space of her Own was created in 2003 when the Alexandria Court Service Unit and the Art League started it "with the goal of helping low-income girls who were identified by their school as at-risk, including many who had a relative incarcerated. The hope was that adding to the girls’ support systems would help keep them out of the juvenile justice system. This year, 12 fifth-graders on the east end of Alexandria participated in the program, and the group aims to expand to the west side of the city next year."

The program culminates every year in an "Extreme Home Makeover-esque" event in which the girls’ mentors help makeover their bedrooms. 

But the changes from the program go well beyond the aesthetic.  As the article continues, "Ta’Janae, 12, who was working on her room next door with mentor Samantha Sirzyk, described attending a tea party and going ice skating for the first time. She spoke in a whisper but is much less shy after going through the program, said her sister Diamond, 13. "She broke out of her shell," she said."

Leading me to remember Phyllis’ post when the Rainmakers first decided to invest in The Art League, that it’s important to invest in the arts, even when resources are tight

As Phyllis said, "The programs our giving circles have chosen to support use the arts as a means to help our community’s young women to build self-esteem, academic skills, and an expanded sense of their place in their community and the world.  Opportunities like these are all-too-often lost in communities and families where resources are limited and must be directed to more basic needs like food, shelter and clothing.  So, at a time when attention is focused on where to cut back so many programs and opportunities, I’m proud to see our giving circle members taking the lead in recognizing the need for youth in our area to imagine and create a future based on all of their unique talents and potential."


Now, go check out that story to learn more about Space of Her Own and to see the makeover pics!

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.