Courtney Caplan has been involved with the Women’s Giving Fund since the program came to fruition back in 2014. Given her past experience on the Community Fund and Solomon Fund grant committees, Rebeca Gonzalez personally requested that Courtney take over the role as a friend and a colleague, with confidence her skill set would be perfect for this position. As a mother of two, Caplan is looking forward to finding innovative projects to support in 2021 as our community tries to navigate COVID-19 recovery.
What drew you to the Women’s Giving Fund and what makes you passionate about supporting women and children in our community?
I can relate to women and children in our community as a mother of two, and I want to help address needs that exist while raising awareness in our community.
Having a place in the membership to help communicate and relay to my neighbors and friends what is going on in the community is important but also with respect to my husband, daughter, and son I wanted to make sure that we’re aware as a family of those that are in need and that we make the effort to help ways we are able. The Women’s Giving Fund felt like the perfect opportunity to find balance between the two.
When you’re talking about the needs of the community, do you have anything specific in mind that you’re thinking of?
At the time that I joined, I was a newer mother, and I really resonated with the idea that it takes a village. For example, the Parents as Teachers program within Holy Cross Ministries is an excellent way to apply that philosophy when supporting mothers and fathers to be great parents. When I was an early mother I looked to friends, mentors, my mother and father, and family to help me along the way and as much as we can support that program and the idea that it takes a village to be a new parent is something that I want to work towards.
Another example that comes to mind is early childhood education and universal pre-k for those who desire it. Whether for parents and childcare providers that might be in their homes or daycare centers, we can achieve so much as a community in the near and long-term to support getting students kindergarten–ready.
What led you to want to apply for the grants committee chair?
Rebeca [Gonzalez] asked if I would chair it as she was transitioning out and that really appealed to me as I’ve been on both the Community Fund grants committee and the Solomon Fund grants committee and I enjoyed working on those committees very much. Taking on a different realm of our grantmaking within the Community Foundation is appealing in that I can learn how to navigate a new space in our efforts to support the nonprofit community.
Plus, I’m always happy to follow in Rebecca’s footsteps because I think very highly of her. The group of women that sit on the Women’s Giving Fund grant committee is diverse and impressive both in past work experience and life experience, and I look forward to collaborating and learning from these women as we move through the grantmaking process.
What excites you most about stepping into this role? It sounds like you’re looking forward to a new learning experience and getting to interact with different folks.
Yes, definitely. I’m also excited to have a finger on the pulse of current nonprofit needs as it relates to women and children, especially given where we are within the COVID-19 pandemic because this will be the first grant cycle where we’re seeing how our nonprofits are responding.
2020 has been a tough year for so many. Moving into 2021 how do you envision the Women’s Giving Fund stepping up to help the community even further?
At this stage, we’ve had five annual grants that have gone out, so the fund is somewhat established within the community. We’ve done great work to address need thus far, but especially this year I imagine we’ll see an interesting response to what nonprofits are facing right now and I imagine that need will only increase from past years given where we are with the world. I’m interested to see what comes through in the applications as it relates to that.
Organizations apply in the winter and the grant is not announced until the summer so it takes a little bit of planning from the organizations that apply and resources to put toward something that might be medium-term, not urgent. That’s an interesting challenge that nonprofits face right now.
Because it’s hard to anticipate what that need would be in the summer versus what it is now.
And the question remains, can people hold on? Organizations are being challenged right now by having to predict the medium-term forecast and ask questions such as, ‘where are we going to be come summer or next year?’ and make the appropriate calls to enhance and expand new or existing programs based on the sizeable amount of money that this grant offers, especially for smaller nonprofits.
Do you have any new ideas that you’re excited to bring to the table next year as Grant Committee Chair that you think can help strengthen the community of Women’s Giving Fund members that already exist? How do you see the Women’s Giving Fund growing in the next year?
When people are comfortable socializing in person again, I think there is going to be excitement around getting together and having continued and enhanced community within this membership. Whether that’s (hopefully) the grant celebration in July or other events that are planned when and where it is appropriate. I think there’s much to anticipate when it comes to socializing.
I’m also excited about the growth of the Wonder Woman program. All it takes to be a Wonder Woman is giving any amount possible on top of the $1,000 dollars donated to join the Women’s Giving Fund, which is an opportunity to increase our impact in the future and strengthen the fund itself.
I’m also excited about the Community Foundation’s efforts surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Members can donate and sponsor a new member; they can select someone who might not be able to afford a membership with the goal of increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity and ensuring voices that are not often heard in our community are able to have a voice at the table.
What are three things you would like new Women’s Giving Fund members to know about you?