A Missoula women’s group awarded a $10,000 grant Tuesday to the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center for a program focused on engaging women who have lived in poverty.
The Women’s Giving Circle awarded the grant to the food bank program Lived Experience Voices and Leaders, or LEVL. The program is led by women who have experienced poverty and encourages them to find solutions to hunger based on that experience.
“Missoula Food Bank and Community Center - a lot of our work is direct nutrition assistance. It’s very much responding to an immediate need. And LEVL is deliberately upstream of that. It is hoping to change the reasons that people need emergency food assistance. And I think that is what was compelling to the Women’s Giving Circle,” says Jessica Allred, who works at the Missoula Food Bank and facilitates LEVL.
The Women’s Giving Circle formed in June, with the intention of bringing women together to make charitable donations to local organizations. Over 80 women donated money to create the grant to be awarded to a Missoula nonprofit that focused on improving the lives of women and children.
Over 30 local nonprofits applied for the grant announced in September. The Giving Circle chose three finalists - the Missoula Food Bank, the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project and YWCA Missoula. LEVL won the popular vote amongst the Giving Circle’s members.
Meredith Printz is the executive director of the Missoula Community Foundation, which sponsors the Giving Circle along with the Women’s Foundation of Montana. Printz says LEVL accomplished the Giving Circle’s intent.
“I think it really embodies the spirit of the Women’s Giving Circle. The idea of developing leadership skills - not just giving a handout but a hand-up. This LEVL program is women coming together to solve problems and I think what this Women’s Giving Circle is also a group of women who are coming together to use philanthropy to try and make an impact on our community and make it a better place.”
LEVL will use the grant to support program costs like funding stipends for program participants.
Both the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project and YWCA Missoula received $1,000 for being finalists. Printz says the Women’s Giving Circle hopes to award another grant next June.