Virtually Celebrating Real-World Success


An event celebrating women leaders.

Michigan Women’s Forward (MWF), formerly Michigan Women’s Foundation, was founded in 1986 at a time when only 3% of philanthropic dollars went to programs for women and girls in the United States. It is the only public, statewide foundation devoted to the economic and personal well-being of Michigan women and girls. Now its programs focus on funding women-owned small businesses, empowering middle and high school age girls, and seeing that justice is carried out for sexual assault survivors.

WomanUP & Celebrate, Woman of Achievement and Courage Awards is their largest annual fundraising event that is typically replicated in Grand Rapids and Detroit.  On June 25 at 12:30 p.m., MWF will live stream their first virtual, state-wide event. This year’s event will not only look different, but will celebrate and fundraise for the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund, which helps small businesses in geographically disadvantaged areas survive the current viral outbreak and support recovery efforts.

The initial $1.5 million in grants and loans for the program was funded through a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Administration, Consumers Energy Foundation and others. That may seem like a substantial amount (and it is!), but it will only be able to help 250 businesses get back up and running. Since opening applications on May 12, MWF awarded 49 grants totaling $215,000 and has given out 14 loans. Donations made during the June 25 event will go towards continuing this work to support small businesses in our communities.

The event will also honor four Woman of Achievement and Courage Honorees. This year’s winners are Joan Budden, president of Priority Health; Kim Trent, deputy director for prosperity for the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity; and Meg Miller Willit, philanthropist and community advocate for Sister Survivors of MSU, USAG and USOC. You can watch the live stream here to view the events.

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