Funds from Women's Giving Circle promote women

Funds from Women's Giving Circle promote women

T hroughout the year, you can make an impact on women at Georgia College and fulfill their needs, campus-wide, by donating to the Women’s Giving Circle (WGC). WGC members contribute an annual gift, then determine where funds are allocated.

Dr. Jennifer Graham
Dr. Jennifer Graham

“We researched other Women's Giving Circles across the nation, talking about how we wanted to structure ours on campus, doing an initial outreach to folks. Then we launched it for the first time in the fall of 2020 and worked on fundraising,” said Dr. Jennifer Graham, director of the Women’s Center and interim chief diversity officer and executive director for the Office of Inclusive Excellence.

In early fall, there’s a call for grant proposals to the campus community to fund projects. Voting where to allocate funds occurs in late fall.

“Anybody on campus can submit a request for funding, but it has to be something tied to the betterment of our campus community and for individuals who identify as women,” Graham said. “The focus is promoting gender equity, fighting sexism and improving the climate for people who identify as women.”

Individuals can request similar or the same project every year. Selections of funded projects are made based on the number of proposals the Women’s Giving Circle receives. 

“We hope to get more proposals each year from more and different projects around campus that could benefit the lives of women and girls. We can work to eradicate sexism and promote gender equity.”
– Dr. Jennifer Graham

“These projects are instrumental in developing leaders, gaining real world experiences and opportunities and bettering our students and campus community,” said Jill Selby, donor engagement associate for Annual and Constituent Giving. “Donors should be proud and encouraged to know their gifts to these projects are being used timely, providing direct financial support for so many.”

Once the WGC receives the proposals, WGC members vote on what they would like to fund. Those become the funded projects for the year.

“So, we take those proposals, then let our members vote on them,” Graham said. “These are donor-directed dollars at work.”

A sample of this year’s projects include: Whistling Hens—creating an equitable, sustainable future for women composers. This chamber music ensemble was founded by soprano Dr. Jennifer Piazza-Pick, lecturer in voice and aural skills and clarinetist Dr. Natalie Groom to combat the inequity female composers face in the arts by performing and commissioning music by women.

Dr. Jennifer Piazza-Pick
Dr. Jennifer Piazza-Pick

Part of their mission is to create multi-faceted economic opportunities and sustainability for fellow women artists by producing numerous live performance recordings and programming opportunities that enable each partner to benefit from performance royalties, sheet music sales and material for conferences, festivals and competitions.

The Whistling Hens’ endeavor is to record a music album with eight works by living women composers. Having studio recordings will contribute to each woman’s discography and enable their music to be heard through formalized global distribution.

“This project is pivotal in our industry,” said Piazza-Pick, “We’re asking arts institutions and audiences to reflect on the impact male privilege has had on traditional music programming, question the status quo of gender inequality in classical music and engage with music by women of various backgrounds at a time when women’s music is programmed as a one-off event, effectively tokenizing it.”

The work of Whistling Hens is a deep-rooted culture and commitment to changing the status quo for female artists everywhere.

Dr. Natalie Groom (left) and Dr. Jennier Piazza-Pick record their album titled Reacting to the Landscape.
Dr. Natalie Groom (left) and Dr. Jennier Piazza-Pick record their album titled Reacting to the Landscape.

“We want the economic means to be the catalyst for change in our curriculum, programming and performances,” she said. “Every piece of music on the album will be a world-premiere recording.”

She identifies the album as a natural outgrowth of the Whistling Hens’ programming work and educational outreach and hopes the album makes a worldwide impact.

“While our long-term goal is to focus on those outside of our arts-loving community, we have to begin by changing our academic and presenting infrastructure,” Piazza-Pick said. “We need platforms where we can show arts colleagues the merits of including women composers in our curriculum, on our stages and in our headphones.” 

 “These projects are instrumental in developing leaders, gaining real world experiences and opportunities and bettering our students and campus community. Donors should be proud and encouraged to know their gifts to these projects are being used timely, providing direct financial support for so many.”
– Jill Selby

Another example of this year’s projects includes, The Menstruation Station Project. The Women's Center & LGBTQ+ Programs along with the Student Government Association teamed to provide free menstrual hygiene products in select restrooms across campus.

“Menstruation Stations help students in that periods can be unpredictable, and we don’t want an unexpected period to keep a student from attending class or any other school activities,” Graham said. “Additionally, these types of products can be expensive, and we work to ensure students have access to them for free across campus. If a student needs longer-term assistance paying for period products, we can help connect them with additional resources.”

WGC has already started raising money for next year's projects.

“We hope to get more proposals each year from more and different projects around campus that could benefit the lives of women and girls,” Graham said. “We can work to eradicate sexism and promote gender equity.”

Joining WGC is simple. Members give an annual gift anytime online by credit card or by mailing a check with “Women’s Giving Circle” noted on the memo. Checks can be mailed to: University Advancement, Campus Box 96, Milledgeville, Georgia 31061.