Chesco foundation empowers girls to do grant-making

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Bess Neiblum, Emory Chiappa and Michelle Legaspi Sanchez of the Chester County Fund for Women & Girls speak with Dave Heller at WHYY studios

Bess Neiblum, Emory Chiappa and Michelle Legaspi Sanchez of the Chester County Fund for Women & Girls speak with Dave Heller at WHYY studios. (Maeve Kelly)

As the calendar year draws to a close, charitable giving is on many minds more than usual. In fact, nearly one-third of donations to nonprofits are made in the month of December.

The Girls Advisory Board, a project of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, has also completed its grant-making for the year. The members are high school girls from across the county with a keen interest in philanthropy that betters the lives of women and girls in their communities.

“It was really interesting to me, to learn about all the difficulties many women and girls in our community face,” said Emory Chiappa, a junior at Downingtown STEM Academy. “We discuss issues, then go to nonprofits and give out grants to them.”

Each year, the group chooses a list of priorities for their grant-making.

“The priority areas are driven by the girls themselves. It really reflects what they are seeing in their communities,” said Michelle Legaspi Sanchez, executive director of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls.

“This year, we’re focusing on access to sexual and reproductive health care and education, support for single mothers to increase financial security, and support for women affected by violence,” said Bess Neiblum, a junior at Henderson High School in West Chester.

Sanchez said the program pays dividends beyond the grant money.

“A lot of change can be made by influencing young women and girls. Thinking about all the issues we face, it gives hope for future generations by knowing these girls are equipped and empowered to take on those challenges.”

The three women visited WHYY and discussed their program with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. Click the play button above to listen to their conversation.

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