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Focus & Impact

Informed by research, WGA focuses on root causes, sustainable solutions and long-term impact.

Kiki Karpen
"When we fund something, our hope is that solutions outlast funding." – Kiki Karpen, past Co-Chair, Grants Leadership Team

Our grants – given collectively and with purpose – are achieving meaningful change throughout Northeast Florida. As stewards of WGA and our community, our Members are mindful of evaluating outcomes. Work continues as our Grants Impact Team defines and measures the impact of our work.

Strategic Philanthropy

Strategic philanthropy has been core to our grantmaking approach since 2002. While all our grants have fallen in our four Fields of Interest – Educational Attainment, Economic Empowerment, Physical and Mental Health, Safety and Justice -- in 2012, we began to concentrate for several years on one narrower focus with two-year grants.  The goal is to have greater impact.  Beginning with 2017 grants, the focus is Breaking the Cycle of Female Poverty: Intervention and Prevention.  From 2012 through 2016, the focus was Mental Health.

Focus Area (2017 -      )

Breaking the Cycle of Female Poverty: Intervention and Prevention

Young Woman With ScarfIn Florida, 40 percent of families with children living in poverty are female-headed households.  And children who grow up in the bottom fifth of national family income are more likely to remain in poverty as adults.  Nationally and locally, programs that show promise of breaking the cycle have demonstrated that attention to just one problem facing these women is not enough to achieve lasting success.  It takes a comprehensive, integrated approach that may address physical and mental health issues, adequate education and job training, needs for child care and transportation and learning to manage money, among other issues. 

As WGA embarks on its new focus area, our strategy is to: 

•Educate our members, our partners and the community at large about existing barriers and effective solutions 
•Advocate for public policy changes that eliminate barriers for women and girls seeking to move out of poverty and prevent women and girls from falling into poverty
•Make grants to non-profit partners for intervention programs which enable women and girls to move out of poverty and prevention programs which keep women and girls from falling into poverty. 

Focus Area (2012-2016): Mental Health

Laura Lane
"By taking a deep dive into mental health, WGA got the attention of a lot of other stakeholders, and started a community conversation that is ongoing and showing results." – Dr. Laura Lane, former Chief Operating Officer, Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI)

In 13 years of research, we saw again and again the multitude of issues that stem from insufficient mental health funding and solutions.  Childhood and youth trauma, victimization and dysfunctional family life often lead to substance abuse, poor academic and job performance and involvement with the juvenile or adult justice system.  We learned about significant needs for counseling, particularly in at-risk populations.  Through our focus on gender-responsive behavioral/mental health counseling resources for women and girls, we have learned: 
•Gender-specific counseling leads to better outcomes
•When a woman is in crisis, she needs to get into counseling within one or two days
•Traditional approaches are less effective for victims of trauma and extreme dysfunction
•Innovative approaches to mental health needs often provide dramatic results
•Wraparound services (meeting needs such as housing, daycare and safety) increase the likelihood of client success

WGA has looked at systemic issues in mental health delivery and care. Bringing our nonprofit grantees together, we have learned how to leverage resources and share best practices across communities. We supported new and untested efforts in addition to established programs.

In the process, we saw a significant ripple effect. A WGA Member's commitment effectively awakened our community. Shining a light on issues, we've been able to galvanize other agencies and organizations, and create an impact greater than the dollars and time invested. Our work in Mental Health has been a true example of strategic philanthropy.

Measuring Impact

Gail Patin
"We never do it perfectly, but we keep learning." – Gail Patin, past Co-Chair, Grants Impact Team and CEO, Hubbard House

We are increasing our expectations of what strategic grantmaking can accomplish. In the vast arena of unmet social needs, we're expanding our focus from short-term service delivery to capacity-building and sustainable solutions. We're also exploring focus areas for the future to continue to make an impact.

In January 2015, WGA formed the Grants Impact Team as an initiative of the Grants Committee. Comprised of approximately a dozen WGA Members, the team was tasked with meeting four principal objectives by Fall of 2016:

  • Assess the overall impact of WGA’s focus on Mental Health for women and girls in Northeast Florida
  • Update WGA research on the status of women and girls in Northeast Florida
  • Pursue a transparent process for shifting our focus area based on research
  • Develop a blueprint for future impact studies

In September 2016, the Impact Team delivered a full-length Interim Report on all four objectives as well as a two-page Executive Summary

In May 2019, the Impact Team issued its Final Impact Report summarizing the notable results of WGA's nearly $2 million in two-year mental health grants between 2012-2018. Download the 'Mental Health Strategic Focus (2012-2018)" exectutive summary [PDF] for key report findings, or read the full report [PDF].

In addition, the Impact Team updated WGA research on the status of women and girls in Northeast Florida and produced a summary report in March 2016. Both the written report, Voices of Hope: Cracking the code on some complex issues, and supporting detail are available in the Research section on our website.

WGA Mental Health Report

Read the Final Impact Report of WGA's Mental Health Strategic Focus (2012–2018). DOWNLOAD the Executive Summary.

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Nikki Sabol

Nikki Sabol
Woman's Giving Alliance Director
The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida


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