Archive for category: News Post

Women’s Giving Circle Initiates Membership Drive

Bradford, PA, Nov. 1, 2019:

Eighty-two women, committed to volunteerism and sharing, came together on October 10 to learn more about the new Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) of McKean County, a project of the McKean County Community Foundation.

“We are appreciative of the 58 women who joined our organization pledging more than $8,350 to support McKean County non-profit 501c3 organizations that implement programs focused on improving the lives of women and their families,” said Carol Duffy, co-chair of the organization.

“Any woman donating $100 or more is considered a voting member of the organization and will be a part of the grant selection process at our annual meeting next fall,” said Judy Bodamer, co-chair of the organization.  “But we need the help of more women in McKean County to reach or surpass our goal of 75 members,” she added.

The Annual Membership Year runs from October 1st to September 30th. Gifts can be made anytime within the Annual Giving Period from October 1st to June 1st. The grants that will be distributed in McKean County by the Women’s Giving Circle in the fall of 2020 will make a meaningful impact on women and their families.

To learn more about WGC or to become a member, go to or contact the McKean County Community Foundation at 844-238-2289.

PHOTO: Guest speaker at the inaugural Women’s Giving Circle event was St. Marys School teacher Ashley Kline.  Kline described two programs that were funded by the Elk County Women Who Care program, a similar program to the new McKean County Women’s Giving Circle:  Ruling Our Experiences empowerment program for girls that focuses on building healthy relationships, critical life skills and planning for a successful future; and the teacher-driven Food for Friends Backpack Program which provides food for weekend and holiday break meals to elementary school age children who would otherwise not have nutritious and adequate meals on non-school days.

WGC Committee Prepares for Event

The recently formed Women’s Giving Circle of McKean County (WGC) will hold a Membership Event from 7 – 9 p.m. on Oct. 10 at The Bradford Club, 32 Boylston St.  The Giving Circle was founded to strengthen the community by collectively addressing and supporting issues that are import-ant to women. The organization was established in January as a project of the McKean County Community Foundation.
The event is open to all women of McKean County who have an interest in joining the Women’s Giving Circle. Members may join with a commitment for any donor level. Those contributing at the $100 per year level or higher will be a voting member who may cast a ballot for an agency to be awarded the collective funds beginning in October 2020.
Paula Fritz Eddy, executive director of the McKean County Community Foundation believes giving circles go beyond individual “pet” charities to pool resources for a common goal with greater impact. “I believe that the success of this concept is that all members have a vote and input on where their pooled money will go,” explained Eddy.
“We are a diverse, dynamic and generous group of women engaged in an exciting venture of strategic philanthropy,” said Judy Bodamer, co-chair. “This is an ideal opportunity to make an impact by optimizing our time and targeting the resources of our members. We welcome members who are looking to become engaged in a purposeful way to help our communities.”
Donated funds will be awarded to a non-prof-it, municipality or religious organization within McKean County. Applications are avail-able online. Following submissions, the top organizations chosen will be submitted for a vote by the entire membership to make an annual award.
Those interested can RSVP by calling 814-834-2125 or emailing mccf@ Reservations are appreciated by Monday, so the group can plan accordingly.
Co-chairs for the group are Judy Bodamer of Port Allegany and Carol Duffy of Smethport, while the event chair is Angela Erway.  For more information, visit the Women’s Giving Circle page on the McKean County Foundation website at or call 1-814-834-2125.

Women’s Giving Circle of McKean County holds Kick off Meeting

Women’s Giving Circle of McKean County holds kick-off meeting

For local women, everything that goes around comes around through their giving circle – caring, community and philanthropy. A group of charter members has been meeting since January to bring The McKean County Women’s Giving Circle to life. Twelve women have met to initiate the planning, development and implementation of a giving circle and will have an open membership meeting on October 10 as a countywide initiative.

“The opportunity to be part of a Giving Circle epitomizes the philosophy that what you give, you receive,” said Judy Bodamer, committee co-chair. “Being part of this group of women is a great opportunity to make a significant impact our communities. Our aim is to unite women from all backgrounds in each part of the county to join this movement.”

Giving Circles have grown significantly in popularity since the early 2000s when traditional donors recognized the value of not only pooling donations to make one significant donation, but also the social engagement that came with belonging to a philanthropic group. Giving Circles are particularly popular with young adults and those who want to learn about local services.

Most Giving Circles pool their financial resources and award funding through grants to non-profits or community improvement projects. Often applicants will have the opportunity to present information about their services and needs of the organization, creating both education and networking.

The impact of Giving Circles on organizations is more than monetary. The selection process brings attention to each applicant during review of the organization seeking funding. Members have the opportunity to ask in depth questions about services, needs and impact, before the entire membership votes to choose a recipient of funds.

“As a strong supporter of building a community-minded network, this organization was a natural fit for me,” said Carol Duffy, committee co-chair. “This is a unique opportunity for me personally to give back to my community. As members we have the added benefit of learning about amazing charities, about each other, and, in the end, about ourselves.”

Any woman donating to the WGC fund is considered a member. Those contributing $100 over the giving year, will be a voting member who can cast their ballot for the agencies they would like to see receive the pool of dollars from the collective donations.

The Women’s Giving Circle will hold a social and organizational meeting two times per year. Funds will be awarded in October, with 95% of the funds donated going directly to annual grants. Five percent of incoming funds will help to cover administrative expenses.

The Women’s Giving Circle is a project of the McKean County Foundation and coordinated by Paula Fritz Eddy, Executive Director. The foundation will manage the donations, awards and financial matters for the group.

“We wanted to make an immediate impact on the community,” said Eddy, “so we will give 85% of all donations right away and put 10% into an endowment fund to build for the bright future for our sisters in McKean County.”

The WGC Fund program will award monies to eligible 501(c)3 non-profits, municipalities or religious organizations. Each applicant is required to be a non-profit eligible organization and donations to the program may be tax deductible. The fund is maintained by the McKean County Community Foundation to reduce administrative costs and increase grant awards.

Bodamer explained that targeted projects may include new programs or the expansion of an existing program which benefits women directly or those who lives are impacted by women. She also noted that individuals who join giving circles typically give more and give more strategically due to the planned nature of the giving and the concept that each member engages in a thoughtful education experience before voting.

Steering committee members include Lisa Bizzaro and Judy Bodamer of Port Allegany, Pam Burlingame and Carol Duffy of Smethport, Sally Claypool and Lori Freer of Eldred, Angela Erway and Kathy Jones of Bradford, Kathy Gibson and Veronica Swanson of Kane and Linda Meyer of Mt. Jewett.

The McKean County Women’s Giving Circle will be welcoming new members at an Inaugural Event on October 10, 2019 at The Bradford Club. For more information visit the Women’s Giving Circle page on the McKean County Foundation website at or call 1-814-834-2125.

Northwest Bank Supports Community Foundation

Northwest Bank presents a generous pledge of $5,000 per year for the next three years to help with the operational cost of the McKean County Community Foundation, which is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Northern Alleghenies.  As a young organization, it is growing, and the support of Northwest Bank is greatly appreciated. “We realize the Foundation is just starting and we feel confident that the Community Foundation will grow and support the community for years to come” said Julie Marasco.

Community foundations are unique, grant-making public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined geographic area. The McKean County Community Foundation is a collection of many charitable funds each reflecting the diverse ways that people choose to help their community and support the causes that matter to them. Currently they have 20 individuals, families and businesses that have created funds.   “We help match donor desires with community needs,” Paula Fritz Eddy remarked.  “We are so grateful that Northwest Bank understands and supports the work we do,” Eddy continued.

The McKean County Community Foundation’s leadership is Robert Esch, as Board President and Rick Esch as Treasurer, and community members who make up the eleven-member Board. “Since the beginning we have focused on having representation from as many areas of the county as possible – Smethport, Port Allegany, Bradford, Eldred, Kane, Mount Jewett,” Robert Esch emphasized.  In addition to Bob and Rick the board members include: Sara Eddy Furlong of Lewis Run, Secretary; Tim Asinger of Bradford, Lori Freer of Eldred, Joe DeMott of Port Allegany, David Krantz of Bradford, Judy Bodamer from Port Allegany, Roni Swanson of Kane, Paige LaBrozzi of Bradford and Jim Evans of Bradford.

The Community Foundation is a non-profit organization that strives to strengthen our region through development, stewardship and grant making as it works with donors to achieve their philanthropic goals. For more information, please call our office at 1-844-238-2289 or visit our website at

Pictured Left to Right are: Richard Esch, Julie Marasco, Paula Fritz Eddy, Robert Esch

Bradford Era Article: McKean County Community Foundation continues to grow

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but some extra funds can translate to extra peace of mind for students and nonprofits struggling with finances. And for more than two years, the McKean County Community Foundation has been there to help.

The foundation helps people with philanthropic goals by establishing a fund and investing the donation. Then, the foundation helps to match those funds with recipients in the community.

The McKean County Community Foundation and the Elk County Community Foundation are affiliate organizations of the Community Foundation of the Northern Alleghenies.

As of Wednesday afternoon, McKean County Community Foundation had around 20 to 21 funds, but the possible addition of more is in the works, according to Executive Director Paula Fritz Eddy.

Eddy explained, “We’re here to help individuals give back to the community and help the community grow and be a better place to live.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Eddy had plans to meet with the Bradford Area School District to talk about the possibility of some of the scholarships being transferred to the foundation. She would be sharing the benefits the foundation can offer participants.

For one, “We are able to invest in things that the school districts cannot,” she said.

Also, students receiving scholarships from the foundation have a chance to see the award amount double, thanks to the foundation’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

PHEAA’s Partnerships for Access to Higher Education (PATH) program provides matching dollars to scholarship recipients who qualify. The foundation nominates all of its scholarship recipients for PATH funding.

The Elk County Community Foundation has been working with the program since 2004, too.

The McKean County Community Foundation was quite active in 2018, according to the recently released annual report.

In 2018, the organization created 10 new charitable funds, received nearly $67,000 in gifts, awarded 22 first-year scholarships totaling nearly $11,600 and garnered $1,525 in matching funds for scholarship recipients through the PATH program.

The foundation has awarded $44,000 in scholarships since its inception in 2017.

In fact, scholarships are “the most active part of our foundation right now,” Eddy noted.

Another current project of the McKean County Community Foundation is the Women’s Giving Circle, which will serve as a way to gather local women together to decide how funds they donate are dispersed through community grants.

On Wednesday night, organizers for the Women’s Giving Circle group were to begin sending invitations to women from all over McKean County who might be interested in attending the group’s inaugural event. It is not an invitation-only event, and local women are welcome to invite other women they think might be interested.

Eddy noted that, thanks to a donor, much of the event cost is covered, and there will be fundraisers like raffles to help cover any other costs. There will be a cash bar.

The Women’s Giving Circle will solicit nonprofits to apply for grants. At the end of the membership year, there will be a meeting, which will likely include short presentations by the applicants, where members will vote on who will receive grants.

Co-chairs for the steering committee are Carol Duffy and Judy Bodamer.

A similar organization is already established in Elk County, Eddy noted.

Among the new funds started in 2018 is the McKean County Fund for the Future, an endowment started by the community foundation.

While the fund is currently used for administrative costs of the foundation, Eddy explained the organization is “hoping that with time that will also become a general fund that we’ll be able to make grants out of when we grow it.”

Regarding a similar fund at the Elk County Community Foundation, Eddy said that organization was able to sustain itself without using the fund after six or seven years. The plan is that, in a few years, the McKean County Community Foundation will likewise be able to sustain itself without using the Fund for the Future for administrative costs.

“It will eventually be able to provide dollars back into the community,” she said.

Another new fund, the Early Childhood Development Fund started by an anonymous donor, was “designed to work with early childhood providers in the area,” Eddy said.

She explained the fund can serve as a scholarship to families experiencing unusual financial circumstances who are at risk of pulling their child out of early childhood programs due to financial issues.

Port Allegany Community Development Fund, started by a local family, was established to provide grants to organizations that serve the Port Allegany community. She explained they hope to grow the fund to $5,000 before they begin offering grants.

Endowment funds have been established to support CASA of McKean County and the McKean County Housing Coalition, and there are around 15 scholarships that are already established at the foundation.

Altogether, there are five types of funds through the foundation: unrestricted, designated, agency endowment, scholarship and donor advised.

People can go to the foundation website,, and make a donation there to any of the established funds.

Residents can start their own funds, too. Eddy said people do not need to be a millionaire to do so.

“If they want to start a fund, they can start with almost anything,” she said, though she added that the foundation encourages people to wait until a fund has at least $5,000 before making grants from it.

Over 64% of the funds at the foundation have less than $25,000.

“Most started small and grew over the years,” she said.

She noted that groups will often raise money for their funds by holding fundraisers or through memorial donations. Also, “We do invest the dollars and we help grow the dollars,” she added.

In addition to visiting the website,, people can learn more by emailing or calling 1-844-238-2289.



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