On December 3 at 5:30 pm on ZOOM, the Fund for Women and Girls hosted our Annual Meeting, Lifting Each Other Up: A Celebration of Women and Philanthropy. We celebrated our multi-year Grantee Partners, revealed our 2020 Grant Awards and learned from two distinguished community leaders how we, as citizens and neighbors, can address the needs of our community. “When you lift up women, you lift humanity,” writes Melinda Gates in The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, the book chosen for distribution at our December 3rd celebration.

“The Fund for Women and Girls believes we can lift each other up by listening to the voices of those living in poverty, educating ourselves about expressed needs, and collaborating with others to address these needs through advocacy and aggressive funding.” said Karen Collias, Fund Co-Chair. “We want to celebrate our philanthropy as part of the important work going on in our community.”

Eleanor Horne, a member of the Fund’s leadership team and a trustee at the Princeton Area Community Foundation, has been a longtime champion of understanding the needs of vulnerable women and children. Eleanor’s devotion to our community and her role in creating innovative programs and support mechanisms for nonprofits inspire us. Her contributions underline the power of inclusion and diversity to move people from the margins to the mainstream.

Marygrace Billek, director of Mercer County Human Services, is an expert on local nonprofit organizations and the impact of COVID-19 on their priorities and day-to-day functions.

Together, Eleanor and Marygrace helped us understand the work of community nonprofits in addressing problems brought about by increasing food insecurity, housing instability, and poor health outcomes, providing up-to-date information on initiatives focused on our tiniest tots, our teens, women in the workforce, and mothers and babies.

In addition to supporting the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief and Recovery program earlier in the year, the Fund presented additional grant awards to six local nonprofits during the celebration:

  • CASA of Mercer and Burlington Counties. The grant provides training for CASA volunteers, who are appointed by the Family Court, to advocate for young children ages 0-5 who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
  • The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ. The grant will fund CHS’ Community Doula Program, which trains bilingual doulas to support dozens of pregnant and post-partum low-income Latina women and their babies.
  • HomeWorks provides support for female Trenton high school scholars to attend virtual school in HomeWorks’ safe and nurturing facility; transportation, daily meals, tutoring and social-emotional programming, which also supports the scholars’ 50+ family members.
  • KinderSmile Foundation, Trenton, NJ. The grant will support the newly opened Community Oral Health Center with capacity development, community mobilization, reach, and workforce, while providing access to oral health care to at-risk families with income between 100-150% of the Federal Poverty Level ($26,200 annual income for a family of four).
  • Puerto Rican Community Center Preschool is the only high quality, culturally competent bilingual preschool program in Trenton. This grant will provide funds to purchase a device, training and a school-year-long WiFi hotspot for the 90 preschoolers participating in the Center’s Creative Curriculum to alleviate the disadvantage experienced by these students and their families.
  • Community Action Service Center dba RISE, Hightstown, NJ. This grant will provide operating support to sustain and strengthen programs that have evolved during the pandemic to safely meet the steadily growing need for critical services. RISE caseworkers have realized a 300% increase in Rise Food Pantry usage and the challenges of safely distributing products to marginalized families.

“As women and philanthropists, we can learn from Eleanor and Marygrace ,” said Cathy Schaeder Batterman, Fund Co-Chair. “Through education, collaboration, and investing together, we can reach goals we could not reach as individual donors to provide long-term support and, ultimately, recovery from this pandemic.”


The Fund for Women and Girls, a field-of-interest fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation founded in 1998, is a diverse group of community members who together invest in nonprofit organizations that improve the lives of economically vulnerable women and children in greater Mercer County. For more information, click here.