Jen Euell is program director of Women’s Foundation of Montana.

A Missoula group comprising dozens of women from all different backgrounds has pooled their money and is looking to donate $10,000 to a local organization that helps women and children.

The newly formed Missoula Women’s Giving Circle has announced its first-ever grant cycle and anyone who wants to apply has until Monday, Oct. 8 at 11:59 p.m., to submit a request. The Women’s Giving Circle is a project of the Missoula Community Foundation in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Montana. Its aim is to engage women of diverse backgrounds with varying wealth levels to build community and grow philanthropy, according to Meredith Printz of the MCF.

She said giving circles have been described as a way to democratize philanthropy because they provide an avenue for people without substantial means to participate in significant giving.

“So far we have 72 members,” she said. “One woman donated the silver coins she inherited from her grandfather. We hope to have 100 members by the end of the year.”

A steering committee will choose three worthy organizations from the applications they receive, Printz said.

“We’re still fine-tuning our values to come up with how we choose the three,” she said. “But we will be guided by community, inclusiveness, equity, transformation, compassion, effectiveness, integrity, respect and opportunity. The group all thought those were important values.”

On Nov. 13, the three final organizations will each make five-minute pitches in front of the full membership. The membership will then vote, and the top vote-getter will receive the full funds. Printz said they may have more than $10,000 by then.

“If we get additional members and funds, we’ll decide what to do,” she said.

The eligible organizations must be committed to improving the lives of women and children.

“They don’t have to exclusively serve that population, but we want to make sure women and children benefit from this grant," Printz said. "In future grant cycles, we may decide on different criteria, but for this first one it was the logical way to go.”

A full list of eligibility criteria is available online at missoulacommunityfoundation.org/receive/apply-for-funding/.

The Women’s Foundation of Montana recently awarded a $2,500 grant to YWCA Missoula’s “Girls Using Their Strengths” project, a $5,000 grant to the Montana NEW Leadership program at the University of Montana’s Mansfield Center and a $3,000 grant to the Stevensville Community Center’s Girl’s Computer Coding Project, among other statewide grants.

“We are thrilled to invest in smart leaders, working for the benefit of women and girls in Montana,” said Jen Euell, Women’s Foundation of Montana program director, in an email. “We believe these grants not only advance economic independence for women and girls, but also invest in the future of Montana communities.”

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