Generating Collective Impact

Giving collectively is powerful. When individuals or organizations pool their resources to support a cause, they can make a much more significant impact than giving on their own. One way the Community Foundation of Utah facilitates this type of collective giving is through Giving Circles. A Giving Circle is a way for like-minded community members to combine donations, allowing their giving to make a bigger difference. Through small, recurring donations, members collaborate to grant funds to local nonprofits moving the needle on important issues.

The Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle, based in southwestern Utah, is a group of passionate women dedicated to bettering the lives of women and girls in their region. In 2019 and 2020, the Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle partnered with the Assistance League of Southern Utah®, a local chapter of the national organization focused on providing clothing and shoes to needy, including homeless, children.

Their program Operation School Bell® provides clothes to disadvantaged school children. Once recommended to the program by a guidance counselor, kids attend local shopping trip events with their guardians - selecting $100 in brand-new clothes. Roberta Robinson, Fund Development Vice President at Assistance League, shared that the guardians are nearly as excited as the kids. Often, these families are facing economic hardship and could not purchase clothing for the new school year.

What impact do new clothes have on children? “Nobody does new clothes.” Roberta said. She believes this is part of what makes their programs so impactful. “We hear from guidance counselors all the time. They see these kids have more positive behavior, more self-confidence, and are more likely to engage with peers and school activities.” For some kids, it is the first time they have ever owned new clothes. 

One young boy told his counselor, “This is the first time I’ve ever had new clothes. I took all the price tags off and taped them on my wall.” For other kids, these shopping trips open doors. One girl picked out athletic shoes that made joining the volleyball team possible. 

Through grants from the Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle, Assistance League expanded their programming to outfit young women graduating from high school. Similar to Operation School Bell, this grant focused on girls in need. In 2019, Assistance League provided $200 each for graduating senior girls from Water Canyon High School in Hildale, a small religious community along the Utah-Arizona border. Many of the girls are leaving the community and need their first professional attire. Assistance League renewed the grant in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the shopping trips, 16 girls from Hildale have participated so far, and Assistance League will use remaining funds to sponsor additional girls from the Youth Futures Homeless Shelter. Armed with a new wardrobe, these girls will be prepared to tackle the next stage of their lives with confidence.

Giving Tips:

Make your giving go farther by joining a Giving Circle or pooling donations with friends. When we work together, we can achieve a greater impact in our communities. 

Interested in supporting the Assistance League of Southern Utah®? Sponsor a child, volunteer to help at a shopping trip, or reach out to learn more about other projects such as knitting hats or sewing masks.

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