An event at the McPherson Opera House Thursday will kickoff a new fund that features women.

An event at the McPherson Opera House Thursday will kickoff a new fund that features women.

WOMAN, which will be run through the McPherson County Community Foundation, stands for Women of McPherson (County) Answering Need. It will provide grants for projects affecting women, children and families in the county. Only women can be voting members, and are given votes to cast in support of causes they deem deserving.

The informative event will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the ballroom of the Opera House. Reservations through the Community Foundation are requested but not required. Attendees will learn of how WOMAN began, how women can get involved, and how the process will work.

“Whenever you bring a collective group together, it will make it so they will have an even bigger impact on the community,” Becky Goss, Foundation president, said. “It’s another way to leverage resources for local people to build a fund that will help increase the quality of life in McPherson County.”

The fund will aim to award grants for entrepreneurial start ups, continuing education, building community initiatives, healthy living and leadership development.

Awareness of need may come through various avenues. Members will be researching projects that are focused on the funds’ mission and address local issues. Interested individuals also may contact the Community Foundation and submit a narrative of their project.

Those projects that have a timely need, competent leadership and a workable plan with measurable outcomes will be considered.

Grants will not be processed formally. Instead, applicants will be asked to write a short summary of their needs. Awardees will be decided by a simple majority vote of members, who will submit their recommendations to the Community Foundation Board for approval.

To be a voting member, a woman must contribute $300. This counts as one vote. Women also may form a group membership to collectively give $300, which will also count as one vote.

Men may donate to the fund, but may not vote.

The all-volunteer organization is coordinated by a steering team comprised of the chairwomen of committees to address all aspects of WOMAN.

WOMAN must obtain $3,000 before they begin awarding grants. Organizers hope grants will eventually be awarded year-round.

Twenty-five percent of money obtained will go toward endowments, while 75 percent will go to the projects.

“The amount that we will give and how often they award grants will continue to increase as we have people participate,” Goss said.

WOMAN began when a speaker from Women of Wichita came to McPherson. The Wichita group, better known as WOW, uses the collective force of philanthropy to positively affect their community as females.

Carla Barber of McPherson was listening to the speaker and was inspired.

“I was so enthralled with the idea of women empowering women in their community in that way,” Barber said. “That idea could certainly work on a smaller scale.”

Barber then approached Goss at the Community Foundation, who had recently been attending workshops on similar ideas. The two began recruiting other women in the area and were pleased to see a large response.

“There are several women’s funds across the country. Community Foundations have done a lot with women’s funds because they realize that women are a pretty strong force in your community,” Goss said. “Typically, if you empower women in this way, it’s amazing what they’ll do and accomplish by getting in the proper avenue to do it.”