Women’s Initiative

What We Do

With 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the United States falling victim to physical, emotional or verbal abuse (www.futureswithoutviolence.org), and 1 in 5 middle school aged girls living in Worcester reporting they feel unsafe in school and in their community (www.investingingirls.org), the Women’s Initiative is filling a gap in the availability of gender-specific philanthropy to address these issues.

Community Impact


The Women’s Initiative works with volunteer committees of community leaders engaging hundreds of members and donors annually to raise Community Impact funds for programs that empower adolescent girls and improve their lives.


Funds raised support programs that aim to reduce the incidence of violence affecting girls ages 10-14 in central Massachusetts, through mentoring, educational opportunities, and financial literacy. Volunteer members of the Community Impact Committee review and make recommendations for program funding. The Committee’s recommendations are approved by the Women’s Leadership Council with final funding decisions made by the United Way Board of Directors.


Grants are awarded to organizations which build, strengthen and support the development of healthy, safe and confident girls. The 2020-2022 grant opportunity has closed. Our next grant cycle will open in 2022.

The 2020-2021 funding cycle awarded $215,000 in grants to 9 girls’ programs in Central Massachusetts:


Organization Program
African Community Education Program Express Yourself Program
Boys and Girls Club of Worcester Girls Voice
Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc. Girls on the Run
Girls Inc. of Worcester Community-Based Programs
LUK Crisis Center, Inc. Project Shine
Seven Hills Foundation, Inc. Just Us Girls
Worcester Jewish Community Center Worcester Girls United
Worcester State Foundation Latina Achievers in Search of Success (LASOS)
YWCA Central Massachusetts & Girls, Inc. of Worcester Girls Promoting Safety (GPS)



Jeanne Y. Curtis Professional Development Grant

The Women’s Initiative created the Jeanne Y. Curtis Professional Development Grant in remembrance of Jeanne Curtis, a founding supporter of the group. Grants will provide funding to enhance the career and skills development of women currently employed by an agency supporting adolescent girls in a Women’s Initiative funded program. Eligible applicants will have the opportunity to apply for financial support (up to $1,500 per fiscal year per organization) for professional development training and continuing education classes. To learn more, please contact emily.mccann@unitedwaycm.org

Financial Literacy

We are excited to announce the launch of our new virtual Dollar $cholar program for middle school girls! Go here to learn more.


The Women’s Initiative created the Dollar $cholar program in 2006 to empower girls to be financially independent and promote their safety and well-being. Lack of financial independence is a major barrier girls and women must overcome in leaving an abusive relationship.


The Dollar $cholar program brings together professional women from the community to mentor middle school girls and introduce them to the basic concepts of financial literacy. Girls not only learn about budgeting, credit, and savings, but meet successful women leaders and explore their college and career plans.


The Women’s Initiative is leading live virtual budgeting sessions in partnership with middle schools and girls’ programs this Winter/Spring. Register today to be a virtual Dollar $cholar mentor!


Dollar $cholar Conferences are typically held twice a year (Spring and Fall) in partnership with local middle schools and with support from local colleges and women volunteers who commit to mentor for a day. Details about our Fall Conferences coming soon!


Download the Women’s Initiative Financial Literacy Guide for Girls to access free, online resources for adolescent girls and their families.


If you are a school, organization, or girl-serving program in Central Massachusetts interested in participating in the Dollar $cholar program, please complete our Dollar $cholar Partner Interest Form and we will follow up with you.

Dollar $cholar Program 15-Year Impact

  • 4,000 teen girls participated
  • 1,400 women mentors volunteered
  • 12 middle schools served in 6 Central Massachusetts towns


2021 Virtual Participant Survey Results

  • 89% of girls said they enjoyed the program
  • 81% of girls said the program will impact how they spend and save money
  • 100% of mentors said they enjoyed the program
  • 94% of mentors said they would volunteer again

2021 Dollar $cholar Supporters


Assumption University

Avidia Bank

Bay State Savings Bank
Digital Federal Credit Union
Main Street Bank


Rockland Trust

Savers Bank

The Fred Harris Daniels Foundation

Webster Five

Dollar $cholar School Partners

Abby Kelley Charter School, Worcester
Assumption Sisters Girls with DREAMS Program, Worcester
Auburn Middle School, Auburn
Burncoat Middle School, Worcester
Claremont Academy/University Park, Worcester
Forest Grove Middle School, Worcester
Grafton Middle School, Grafton
Knox Trail Middle School, Spencer
Leicester Middle School, Leicester
Oak Middle School, Shrewsbury
Sullivan Middle School, Worcester
Worcester East Middle School, Worcester
Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Camp Reach Program, Worcester

Investing in Girls AllianInvesting-In-Girls-Alliance-Logoce

The Women’s Initiative is a founding partner of Investing in Girls Alliance, an outcome of the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth at Risk in the City of Worcester in 2007. The group’s mission is to improve services for middle school girls in Central Massachusetts through research, public education, advocacy, and collaboration among girl serving organizations and funding partners. Women’s Initiative serves on the Steering Committee and participates in research and collaboration efforts to help inform our funding strategy. Learn more

Sponsorship Opportunities


The Women’s Initiative offers sponsorships of up to $5,000 for activities that meet the following criteria:


  • Must be for an activity or an event that is aligned with and addresses the mission of the Women’s Initiative to ignite positive change for girls through philanthropy and women’s leadership.
  • Must be located in and serve the residents of the United Way of Central Massachusetts’s service area.
  • Must be a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization or have a partnership with a fiscal agent who does.
  • Must provide visibility to the Women’s Initiative and its focus.
  • May not be requested for an agency’s annual meeting.


Sponsorships are reviewed on a rolling basis and typically decided within 30 days.
Download application and guidelines: WI Sponsorship Request Form