Our Impact: The Power of $1,000
by Program Coordinator, Lauren Skar
In Fall of 2022, Audrey (12th grade, St. Louis) applied for a grant to attend a leadership training camp. She wrote that being able to participate in this activity will help her pursue her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. "I want to inspire, encourage, do good, and help all the children in the world. My second big dream is to make an impact on kids' lives. If I do that, I will feel proud of who I became." The total cost of Audrey's activity was $1,350.
In the same grant cycle, Sienna (10th grade, Hennepin) applied for a grant to support and continue her business, Bikini Blend. Bikini Blend believes that all bodies are bikini bodies; the mission is to build self-confidence and self-esteem for all women, one bikini at a time. "I want other women to be confident and love themselves, especially, in a swimsuit." The total cost for Sienna to fulfill her swimsuit supply order and increase webpage marketing was $828.
I know firsthand how helpful receiving a grant from the Ann Bancroft Foundation can be. I used my grant to play volleyball, which boosted my dreams and my confidence. In my application I wrote, "My dream is to pursue volleyball at the collegiate level next year. My priority is my education, but volleyball has taught me time management and connected me to a group of supportive teammates and parents. I want to find that community in college and continue a sport that is so much a part of my life." I played at the collegiate level and was shaped for the better by that experience. I also know how much greater an impact could have been made by a grant of a larger amount.
Altogether, in 2022, the Ann Bancroft Foundation awarded 307 grants to Minnesota youth across 38 counties to pursue their dreams. 90% of these activities cost more than the seed grant of $500 we provided.
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.
In 90% of grant applications we saw last year, we could not deny that a change was necessary. Therefore, as part of our new strategic plan, the Ann Bancroft Foundation is increasing grant awards to up to $1,000. 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.
A $1,000 grant can encourage a girl to attend a science camp, go on a trip with their Scouts troop, play youth sports, publish a book, start a business, attend a leadership program, and other endless possibilities. A $1,000 investment is building up the next generation of leaders, scientists, athletes, authors, and doctors to be change-makers in their communities. We are taking this bold step to say to our youth that in a constantly changing world, we are still here, and we believe in your dreams!
About the Author: Lauren Skar is the Program Coordinator, developing and supporting the program efforts of the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Lauren was previously a program intern for the organization and a Fall 2018 Dare to Dream Trailblazer who used her grant to pursue her dream of playing volleyball at the collegiate level.