2023 Year in Review

Dear cherished Ann Bancroft Foundation community,

As we bid farewell to 2023, I want to express my deepest gratitude to each of you who has made this year extraordinary for the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Whether you're a determined grantee, a dedicated volunteer, a passionate mentor, a supportive parent, a generous donor (be it in-kind or monetary), or an engaged advocate who partnered with us, opened emails, made introductions, or liked a social post – thank you, thank you, thank you.  

Your unwavering dedication has truly made this year unforgettable. 

This year has been filled with inspiring stories, unwavering determination, and the kind of community support that truly defines our mission. I'm immediately thinking of Jorja, whose dream is to establish a local mentorship program for youth interested in law, with aspirations to make it a statewide, and even national, initiative. Jorja's personal story about addiction and forgiveness resonated deeply, as did Keena's poignant words: "The world has been continuously ending since I can remember...It's hard to think of what I want to be when I grow up when I don't know if I will grow up and in what world..." Isabelle's profound video warmed the hearts of many during our annual celebration, and her journey from a need for perfection to a desire to be helpful is truly inspiring. By the way, have you listened to the stories in our "Imagine Something Bigger" capsule in partnership with the Wildling? Several Ann Bancroft Foundation grantees expressed what it means to Imagine Something Bigger and how they envision their worlds. I dare you to listen without a smile or a tear, in some cases, both simultaneously.  

I'm also thinking of our inspiring PowHER Partners, courageous leaders in our community who have trekked unknown paths to be where they are and continue to inspire and generously support the next generation.  

It's been a remarkable year! I invite you to check out some of our 2023 highlights below. 

As we reflect on these accomplishments, I extend a heartfelt invitation to join us in one final act of generosity. Please consider making a year-end contribution to the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Your support will directly contribute to creating opportunities for young girls to explore, discover, and achieve their fullest potential. 

Visit here to make your contribution today. 

Thank you for being the heartbeat of our foundation. Your commitment has driven our success, and we look forward to achieving even more together in the coming year. 

I am wishing you a promising new year!

With gratitude,

Ethelind B. Kaba, Ann Bancroft Foundation Executive Director

Bringing in the new

In 2023, we welcomed new staff and board members to the Ann Bancroft Foundation community. 



    My favorite memory this year was having the opportunity to review spring and fall grant applications.  I was blown away by so many of them with ambitions to do great things.  The most memorable application (to date) was a teenager who wanted to use her grant funds to help construct a natural park for the kids in her town.  Her drive and care for other kids in the community was beautiful and inspiring!



     My favorite memory this year was going on a camping trip with our Trailblazer Fellows in June. It was incredible to talk with them about their plans and dreams. This helped me realize how valuable every opportunity can be in shaping a girl’s future. 



    As I’m new to the Ann Bancroft Foundation, my favorite memory of this year has been reviewing the files of the applicants for funding. It was such a powerful representation of what is important to girls, and so easy to see why this work is so important!



    My favorite memory this year was reading through program applications for the fellows and learning about each of their BIG dreams and hopes for the future. Never have I finished reading grant applications with such joy, gratitude and so much hope for the future.

Catching Up with our Trailblazer Fellows

​​​​​​​In 2023, we awarded grants to our first-ever cohort of Trailblazer Fellows. These eight high schoolers, all previous ABF grant recipients, received a second grant for $2,500. We are so proud of what each of our Fellows has accomplished throughout the year. As we prepare to award our second cohort of Fellows in 2024, let us check back in with our inaugural class. 


Anushka Kollengode

Anushka used her grant to further develop Green3, an app she created to reduce litter.

Q: Catch us up on your grant activity. What happened?

A: . I am using the computer I purchased with the grant money to complete my app and currently, I am working on putting the app in the app store and adding more features to it. Also, I will be able to use the computer for more school projects.

Q: What has changed for you in the year since you received your grant?

A: One big thing that changed during this year is pushing myself and exploring new territories when working on my grant. I am spending hours on the code, learning and trying new things, and making everything work.  

Q: What is a goal that you have for your future?

A: One thing I have for a goal in the future is being able to expand my coding knowledge and build more apps and also have the opportunity to teach coding to girls (like I was taught when I was younger) when I was in technovation and BDPA. This will be a good way to give back what I benefited to the community.



Keena Dietz

Keena's grant went toward tuition at a performing arts school.

Q: Catch us up on your grant activity. What happened?

A: Though we're still in the fall semester, my time at Interlochen Arts Academy has already reinforced my love of theatre, taught me numerous paths to pursue a financially wise career in theatre, and strengthened my understanding of the power of art.

Q: What has changed for you in the year since you received your grant?

A: I now live in a dorm on campus along with other artists from all over the world. I've been learning how to juggle rigorous classes and amazing artistic opportunities with doing my laundry and working to manage homesickness

Q:What is a goal that you have for your future?

A: My goal now is to start college in the fall. I'm very happy to say that I've already been accepted to the University of Minnesota's top-ranked theatre program. Now I'm in the nerve-wracking zone of waiting to hear about other university and scholarship options along with all the other senior Fellows. 


Want to learn more about our 2023 fellows? Click here.

Expanding our reach

The Power of $1000

This year, we unveiled our new Strategic Plan. Our plan included increasing our seed grants from $500 to $1000. To read more about the inspiration for this change, read this blog by Lauren Skar, our Program Coordinator.

"We are proud of every $500 grant to over 5,500 girls throughout 25 years, and from the thank you notes we receive; girls are grateful for every dollar invested in their dreams. In reevaluating granting through strategic planning, we committed to listening radically to our Trailblazers and supporters. Through a listening session, surveys, and the data we collected from their applications, girls clearly need more financial support. As families see the cost of everyday goods climbing rapidly, activities that support development and wellness in youth get cut. For that reason, increasing the maximum grant award ensures we continue supporting girls in Minnesota despite inflation pressures."

-Lauren Skar, Program Coordinator and 2018 Ann Bancroft Foundation Grant Recipient

Year in Numbers


ABF grants awarded in 2023


Trailblazer Fellowship applications


Minnesota counties received grants


of grants in 2023 were over $500

Sharing stories of incredible leaders

Our PowHER Partners

On October 11th, International Day of the Girl, we launched our PowHER Partner campaign. The Ann Bancroft Foundation partnered with six women leaders to share their stories of success, inspiration, and generosity. Together, we can all support the leaders of tomorrow. 

The Strength of Volunteering

There’s nothing that Suzanne Weinstein can’t do. Read our interview with an incredible ABF volunteer.



Our Impact Award Winner

This April, the Ann Bancroft Foundation honored Gloria Perez as our Impact Award winner. As president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Gloria fights tirelessly for gender justice. Listen to her story of inspiration and advocacy.


Imagined Something Bigger at our annual event


Event Recap- Year in Review.jpg

Speaking of Gloria, our annual celebration included 500+ attendees, inspiring videos, engaging performances, and delicious food. We heard from Isabelle, a Trailblazer Fellow, about the power of music in her life. In speeches from founder Ann Bancroft and Executive Director Ethelind Kaba, ABF reaffirmed our mission of uplifting girls to succeed.

Special thanks to generous support from our anonymous impact match, our pinnacle sponsor, the Barry Foundation, and our year-round sponsor, Maslon. See the entire recap here.

Unleashed Potential with our Impact Report

For our 2022-2023 Impact Report, we led with the theme “Unleashing Potential.” With inspiring stories, passionate letters, and compelling facts and figures, this report shows how much investing in girls can change our world. Read below for a sneak-peak of this report’s Impact Story.

Annie Resized.jpeg

Dr. Annie Ciernia from Ulen, Minnesota had limited resources in her rural high school. With support from her community, as well as a grant from the Ann Bancroft Foundation, Annie attended the Summer Honors College at the University of Minnesota in Summer 2002. This helped a teenage Annie discover her love of science. Today, she holds a PhD. in Neurobiology and Behavior and runs a research lab at the University of British Columbia.

“The best part [of my grant activity] was that I was surrounded by other young women who were also interested in science! For someone who had struggled to find connections in high school, this opened a whole new world for me and inspired me to continue my scientific training at university.”

Read the full report

Advocated for girls everywhere

WomensWorldCup.jpegIn 2023, we worked to ensure more opportunities for girls. In May, we partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness- Minnesota (NAMI-MN) to spread mental health awareness. In our jointly hosted Ending the Silence class, we taught young adults strategies for understanding and dealing with mental illness. With many of our grantees dealing with the stress of college applications, we also hosted an essay writing workshop. The session was hosted by Karlyn Coleman, an author, teacher, and educational specialist at Lerner Publishing, and Maya, a former Trailblazer (grantee) and sophomore at UW Madison. In our Essay Writing Webinar, we gave tips and tricks for ways to write a strong essay. Ethelind Kaba, the ABF Executive Director, advocated for girls in sports with her Minnpost Op-Ed, “The Intangible Benefits of Watching the Women’s World Cup.” We look forward to amplifying the voices of girls to succeed in 2024.

Engaged with our community


Through the year, the Ann Bancroft Foundation stayed connected with our community across Minnesota! In January, we welcomed our inaugural class of Trailblazer Fellows with a super fun kickoff event. Then, in April, we imagined something bigger together at our 2023 Annual Event. Over the summer, we headed to the St. Croix River with our Trailblazer Fellows for the first-ever Ann Bancroft Foundation camping trip. We also heard some incredible stories directly from girls at the Bakken Museum while engaging kids interested in STEM careers. In September, we rowed our hardest at the Wilderness Inquiry Great River Race. We also partnered with The Wildling to create a story booth full of wonderful tales from youth on what it means to Imagine Something Bigger


Thank You!

Thank you for your support in 2023! This was a monumental year for the Ann Bancroft Foundation as we expanded our granting programs for our changing world. For over 25 years, ABF has created opportunities for girls to succeed and thrive. We could not create these opportunities without the support of our incredible donors. With your help, we look to a bright future in 2024!

Visit here to make your contribution today or checks can be sent to: Ann Bancroft Foundation, 2356 University Ave. W., #404 St. Paul, MN 55114.

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