Empowering women to create social change

The Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program (WCPP) granted $2,000 to Jewish Family Services of Ottawa for their Shalom Bayit program. The funding was used to provide technology and a safe virtual support space for their clients. From left to right, Lynne Oreck-Wener (WCPP founder and executive), Sarah Caspi (Executive Director, Jewish Family Services), and Shlomit Jacobson (WCPP executive) took part in the cheque presentation.

On May 9, the Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program (WCPP) will send flowers to women living in shelters — for Mother’s Day.

It is just one of the outreach efforts the WCPP makes as they celebrate 10 years of service.

“When we began creating this collective, it was about being accessible - people could just buy a tribute card to support us,” said Lynn Oreck-Wener, the WCPP founder and former chair of the Foundation. “Now the fund is up to more than $100,000.”

Originally, the objective of the WCPP, which is a program of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation, was to engage, educate and empower women and girls in the Ottawa Jewish community. Oreck-Wener got the idea from looking at women’s funds in other cities.

“It had a bit of a slow start, but especially lately, now that we see how COVID affects women disproportionately, there’s been an uptick,” said Oreck-Wener.

WCPP gives grants to support programs and projects that support women and children, such as an educational series that looks at mental or physical health, holiday basket programs, women’s safety on campus efforts, and more.

“We want to look at issues of social justice, to effect social change,” said Oreck-Wener.

Mother’s Day is an important touchstone for the WCPP’s work. Instead of buying a traditional card for your mom, consider buying a tribute card. The money raised from card purchases goes to the WCPP fund, from which grants are awarded twice a year to worthwhile projects.

“This is your opportunity to be impactful in the lives of women in our community who need acknowledgement, validation or help,” said Oreck-Wener.

The grant program typically has two cycles a year, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the usual process. Instead of people pitching programs and the WCPP members voting on who should receive funds, an emergency grant was given to Jewish Family Services’ Shalom Bayit and Tikvah programs for female clients in response to emergency needs caused by COVID-19. Later in the year, through its fall funding cycle, the WCPP made an additional grant award to JFS’s Shalom Bayit program to provide supplemental support for these clients.

“Thanks to the WCPP grant we were able to help women get reliable, upgraded appliances to stay connected with us and with services, such as our Well Being Group,” said Sarah Caspi, the executive director of Jewish Family Services.

“Helping break the digital divide is critical and a really important aspect of accessibility for many who were living alone or in isolation. Being connected has been a truly essential tool to have during the pandemic. The WCPP grant helped women like one mother, who needed a printer and tablet to stay connected to essential supports and help her children with at-home learning.”

There will be two grant cycles in 2021, one that has just closed and another in the fall from August 3 to October 1. The grant program supports initiatives that strive to expand and improve opportunities and choices in the lives of women and children in Ottawa's Jewish community, as well as the funding of new grass-roots programs (first-time projects), organizations or individuals working to help women and children in our community.

To get involved, you can purchase a tribute card, or become a WCPP member — just a one-time $100 donation gives you the opportunity to vote on grant recipients in the future.

To purchase a Mother’s Day tribute card visit here. To learn more about the WCPP visit here.