The Fort Atkinson Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is seeking applicants for its newly created Grants for Gals Scholarship.
Each year, AAUW awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving local women who attend college, graduate school, and vocational and technical schools. The new Grants for Gals Scholarship offers women and girls, as young as 10 years of age, access to special scholarship funds for educational, cultural and philanthropic opportunities previously unavailable to them due to financial hardship or age.
“What makes the Grants for Gals program unique is that these funds do not have to be tied to a degree program,” said Grants Steering Committee co-chairperson Janine Fixmer of Fort Atkinson. “Creating lifelong learners starts with exposure to new things, finding joy in expanding horizons and capturing new knowledge. That is exactly what we hope to achieve by making funds available to area girls.”
The groundwork for the new scholarship started in 2017 while AAUW was planning a way to celebrate its 60th year in Fort Atkinson. A steering committee made up of Fixmer, Thea Reeves, Marianne Bardenwerper, Joan Jones, Marie Nelson and Lisa Tuttle-Woods planned the event, “Fashion Through the Decades,” and then worked to turn the proceeds into a new scholarship fund. More than $6,000 was raised in 2017, and by September 2018, additional fundraising efforts had brought in another $6,000.
At the 60th anniversary celebration in November 2017, one of the “Fashion Through the Decades” models was Angelina Nsibirwa, a 2013 graduate of Fort Atkinson High School and recent graduate of Madison Area Technical College. Tragically, Angelina was killed in a car accident on May 15, 2018. Through the generosity of her parents, Sira and Bridget Nsibirwa, and the donation they made in Angelina’s name, the fund reached the necessary balance level for being managed by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation.
“Angelina’s passion for service to others, and her commitment to learning will live on through the Grants for Gals program,” said Fixmer. “Her family’s generous gift is a beautiful way to help Angelina’s memory live on in our community.”
Area girls and women are welcome to apply for funds that will help them pursue interests and talents for enrichment, not necessarily advanced formal education.
“For instance, a girl may want to attend space camp to pursue her passion for math and science in a hands-on setting,” explained Fixmer. “She could apply for funds to help her pay for the camp. Someone else may want to attend a workshop or course on project management to hone her business skills, but doesn’t have the money to take the course. In both cases, these area residents would be eligible to apply for funds from Grants for Gals.”
Joan Jones has been a member of the Fort Atkinson Branch of AAUW for 54 years.
“AAUW has always been committed to helping women pursue advanced education, and now there is a way to begin that pursuit at an even younger age,” Jones said. “We want a community of women who are lifelong learners. This program is one way we can encourage girls to expand their horizons and realize their ultimate potential beginning at a young age.”
The AAUW Grants for Gals Committee set the first application cycle Aug. 1 through Sunday, Sept. 15.
Area girls and women interested in applying for Grants for Gals support may learn more at grantsforgals.org or contact AAUW at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone interested in donating funds for the Grants for Gals program may do so through the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation.
In addition, window decals of the organization’s logo are available for $5 to generate interest and support in Grants for Gals. They are available by contacting Janine Fixmer at Janine@agency-insurance.com or (920) 220-9252.