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Women’s Resource Center receives grant to work with WSHS (02/23/2006)
The Women's Resource Center of Winona (WRC) sent a representative to the Social Change Fund Convening held by the Women's Foundation of Minnesota on February 6th and 7th. Participants in the Convening used the Art of Storytelling to take a unique look at program evaluation, fundraising, and political action.

The Convening brought together organizations that received grants from the Foundation for the year 2006. The Women's Resource Center received project support of $5,000 to collaborate with Winona Senior High School on promoting human rights. The project brings together WRC staff, WSHS administrators, faculty and students to raise awareness of gender issues in the community, state and world.

"The Women's Foundation grant allows us to implement more of the activities planned by the high school staff and students," said Valerie Williams, the WRC representative.

With the grant, a new club has been introduced at Winona Senior High School. The SHOUT Club (Speak out, Help globally, Organize for change, Unite the sexes, Teach the community) is a student-directed group that addresses gender issues, equality and oppression. To date, the club's activities include holiday gift bags for WRC clients, a speaker from the Human Rights Commission, and discussions on articles about sexuality and oppression in other countries. In March, club members are planning a two-day trip to the State Capitol. The first day students will attend training on lobbying their legislators. The second day they will meet with legislators before attending a rally.

Some of the grants funds are earmarked for WSHS Senior Seminar. In May, High School Seniors will gather for a day dedicated to helping them transition out of high school students into independent, successful, healthy adults. The Women's Resource Center is just one of the community agencies and businesses that will collaborate on Senior Seminar.

"The Women's Foundation training will help our projects be successful. In addition, the Convening addressed the importance of telling the stories of our clients, volunteers, and staff to impact donors and policy," said Williams.

Only four of the 19 organizations funded by the Women's Foundation were outside of the metro area putting the Women's Resource Center in a unique position.

"The Convening was a good reminder that we are part of a greater community that needs to hear the voices of rural women," added Williams. "We can easily become focused only on the issues that come through our doors. We have the capacity to participate in a larger movement. More importantly we have the duty to participate - a duty to our clients, their children, our staff, and those we will affect in the future."

To begin the Convening, the Women's Funding Network, an organization located in California, presented their on-line evaluation program. The grantees will use the program to report their progress to the Women's Foundation.

Storytelling was the theme of the Convening. Sessions on the first day included how to craft a good story, how to prepare a fundraising plan, and using stories in fundraising. The next day introduced the power of stories to influence policy-makers and make social change. Finally, grantees had the opportunity to hear the stories of women elected officials. 

 

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