Pilot Program Tackles Generational Poverty

In collaboration with Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and Evergreen Retirement Community, the Women’s Fund is working to end generational poverty – one family at a time. We understand that the cycle of poverty will forever continue if the first generation does not get to a place of self – sufficiency.


The pilot program RISE 2.0 is a transitional living program, working with single mothers and their families to provide services and programs to help achieve their self-sufficiency goal within a 36-month period. Families are required to contribute to program fees and basic utilities depending on their adjusted gross income. The mothers are also required to attend weekly educational trainings, including money management, parenting skills and one-on-one meetings with Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services staff.

Currently the program has two family homes located on the Evergreen Retirement Community property. The first family moved in this past February and the second family moved in July. We are excited and hopeful that this program will give these mothers and their families the support they need to become self-sufficient. Follow us as we work to help eliminate poverty – one family at a time.

Why is this new program necessary?

Ten years ago, the first Status of Women in Northeast Wisconsin report was published and revealed startling information regarding women and poverty. In 2017, the report was updated and the statistics regarding women and poverty only worsened. It was evident to the Women’s Fund that something needed to be done to end generational poverty and help single mothers. The following statistics are the reason RISE 2.0 was created. Page Pilot House Slide


Grant Provides Education for Protective Boundaries

Last year, Reach Counseling received a grant from the Women’s Fund for their program: Sexual Prevention Education and Advocacy Program – Protective Boundaries. 36 elementary schools in Menasha, Neenah and Oshkosh received the 3-day educational training focused on safety, sexual abuse and harassment, dating violence, stalking, sexting, gender violence, relationships and oppression.

Elizabeth VanAbel, Prevention Educator from Reach Counseling, recently presented to 49 Perry Tipler Middle School students, ages 12 to 17 on the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, the cycle of violence, and internet media safety. The education is especially important since research shows the average 8-18 year old spends 44.5 hours a week on media.

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Elizabeth VanAbel from Reach Counseling presents to Perry Tipler Middle schoolers

This program has had great success in helping students learn the importance of protective boundaries. As a result of this immersive education:

  • 98% of students had a better understanding of how to find help
  • 98% of students recognize and name four warning signs of an unhealthy relationship
  • 100% of students are more confident in their ability to recognize abusive talk and behavior.

View the slideshow below with statistics on the importance of this program. Pre and Post education surveys were completed by each student. Success was defined when students reported No Knowledge to  Limited Knowledge on the pre-survey and Basic to Full Understanding on the post-survey.

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Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation Supports a Lifetime of Success through Girl Scouting

Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes (GSNWGL) is providing the girls of Oshkosh with life-changing programming because of our friends at the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Their generous support is helping us in so many ways. Our new STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and Outdoor badges and Journeys, the life-changing Girl Scout Cooking Program, and so many incredible girl-led activities in troops are the direct result of the investments from organizations like the Women’s Fund of Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Girl Scouts know that the future will be filled with opportunities and careers in STEM and yet only 1 in 7 women with a degree in STEM actually work in that area.* In response, Girl Scouts launched new badges and Journeys in engineering, computer science, robotics, environmental science, and beyond. These badges and Journeys have girls working together to solve problems, build machines, and find role models for their future. These programs are making a difference – 77% of girls say that, because of Girl Scouts, they are considering a career in technology.


Many women can trace their love of the outdoors back to Girl Scouting. Whether they camped as a troop, went on hikes, or just got outside around their meeting place – Girl Scouts and the outdoors have a special bond. Because of Girl Scouts 71% of girls tried an outdoor activity for the first time. Our new outdoor badges offer troops the groundwork and make getting outside simple – camping, outdoor art, horseback riding, paddling, and more are all offered via a robust catalog of age appropriate badges and Journeys.

When you buy a box of delicious Girl Scout Cookies, you help power new, unique and amazing experiences for every awesome G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) in your community who sells these purpose-filled treats. When girls participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, they get more than life-changing experiences and adventure. They also develop essential life skills – goal setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, and business ethics – all while soaring in confidence and practicing leadership the Girl Scout way to lift one another up and change the world, together. Your favorite sweet treats, including the Girl Scout S’mores cookie, will return January 19.

The investment the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation made in GSNWGL is truly changing the lives of girls. Girl Scouts here in Oshkosh are having fun, building confidence, and taking adult supported risks – learning what they need to know to take on challenges, right wrongs, pursue their dreams, and so much more. Your support means everything to us.

*Brookings Institute, Breaking the STEM ceiling for girls, March 7, 2017.

-Story provided by Girl Scouts of Northwestern Great Lakes

Body Language Says It All

You may not realize it, but the majority of what you say isn’t coming out of your mouth. It’s being said with your body.

Kristin Bock, a certified body language trainer and coach, presented a “Self esteem/Self imaging” program to a group of 6th grade students at Perry Tipler Middle School on Tuesday, March 8.  Each sixth grader participated with an eighth grade mentor.  She spoke about the many ways that students can portray a stronger, more confident version of themselves.

Bock started by asking the students to form a line at the front of the room next to a microphone. Each student was required to read a question on a card they were given out loud. Some of them had questions such as “what is your favorite ice cream flavor?” or “if you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?” They recited their answer to the group and quickly found their seat again. When everyone had gone, Bock explained that it wasn’t the question or the answer that was important. It was the manner in which they spoke (loud or quiet, fast or slow), the way they were standing (slouched, hands in their pockets) or how they looked at the audience (if at all) that mattered most.

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Students present their question and answers to the class.

After a lively presentation on how to strike an “own your ground” pose, give a confident handshake, and look people in the eye when talking, the students were asked to recite their question and answer once again to the group.

As you could probably guess, some students still refused to look up at the crowd, speak into the microphone or take their hands out of their pockets. But, the majority of the students (mostly the boys) made significant improvements! They spoke up, stood straight and fidgeted a lot

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The sixth grader (left) and her eighth grade mentor (right) practice eye contact.

less. The girls on the other hand were still shy, quiet and some even refused to answer their questions, giving answers such as “I don’t know” or “I don’t have a favorite sports team.”

We know that a girl’s self-esteem plummets during puberty. You see boys gaining confidence, while girls tend to shrink into the shadows. Bock’s interest in engaging these students connects with the Women’s Fund’s desire to inspire young women to be more confident, assertive and lively!

If you’d like to connect with Kristin Bock for a presentation to your organization, group or classroom, visit her website at bodylanguageblueprints.com.

Prepping for the Tank

As we inch closer to the Student Think Tank competition on April 27 (see last blog post) the students participating have begun to flesh out their ideas and start their business plans with help from college mentors. Colleen Merrill, executive director of Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and director of the Small Business Development Center at UW Oshkosh, has helped students go from having a simple idea to actually selling products in local stores. We asked her to share with us more about this process and what to expect on April 27.

WF: What are you most excited about with this round of students leading up to April 27? We have spent some time in each of the three high schools (West, North, and Lourdes) and have seen the students come alive with ideas! Having them not only understand the process of validating a business idea, but more importantly, believe they can, excites me the most. We are at a 24 year low of young entrepreneurs owning a small business. By providing resources, mentors, access to seed funding, and a community that fosters the entrepreneurial ecosystem – we can change our region and have a major impact on our economy. That is the reason we created the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In only three short years we have launched over 25 businesses, expanded to high school, and will be teaching a seed accelerator in Fond du Lac for the Fox Valley region.


WF: How do you prepare the kids for such a professional presentation that they’ve maybe never done before? We gave them all the tools they need to present the key content items the judges will be looking for as well as resources on the internet to watch successful 90 second presentations. During our kick off meetings at each high school, we brought in two college teams that presented their 90 second pitch and answered any questions the students had. At this point, a faculty champion at each school will be working with the students to prepare for their contest.

WF: How does this program affect our community as a whole as far as expanding the minds of our high school students? From my experience running the UWO program, this process completely empowers and transforms individuals. Our goal is to use the 90 second pitch contest as a stepping stone, an entry point, which allows students to gain confidence. The 10 week accelerator program is where their lives change. They learn interview skills, personality types so they are able to communicate clearly with different types of people, refined presentation skills, critical thinking and the ability to feel comfortable making mistakes—all while learning how to validate their idea. By engaging students in high school, they are ready to explore at a deeper level once they graduate. Our mission is to engage these students, help them develop a sound business strategy, and provide the resources so they build and grow their business in North East Wisconsin. This ecosystem is critical to the growth of the region and will certainly take a village to raise.

Student Think Tank will take place on April 27, is free and open to the public. We anticipate a large turnout, so we’re encouraging everyone to reserve their seats by calling 920-426-3993 or going online to http://oshkoshareacf.org/event_detail.cfm?EventID=50.

*Watch the Women’s Fund website, Women.OshkoshAreaCF.Org, for more information on the presentations that will take place on May 19 with Lori Greiner.

Send your student to Lori Greiner!

It’s that time of year when we make New Year’s resolutions.  Here’s one for you: act on something you’ve been thinking about or wanting to do.  It may be an idea or an innovative concept that you’ve been tossing around. Think of Lori Greiner, our speaker for this year’s Power of the Purse Luncheon.  She realized a need, formulated an idea which evolved into her famous jewelry armoire that ultimately transformed her into the multi-million dollar mogul she is today!

If you know of a high school student with an idea for a product or business, send them our way! The Women’s Fund will be sponsoring a student competition for budding entrepreneurs, critical thinkers and out-of-the-box dreamers on May 19 (the day of the luncheon). This fun event will be judged by Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner, the “queen of QVC.” Lori will listen to the students as they pitch their ideas, rank them, and then the top students will receive the largest scholarship amount. (which means no one walks away empty handed!)

To be considered as a finalist in the student competition, we will need to meet the students ahead of time and they’ll be expected to present their ideas to our panel of judges. If you know a student or group of students that would be interested, please call us at 920-426-3993.

As Lori would say, “this one’s a hero!” So for that reason…


We’ve Got Ourselves a Shark!

Lori_official picOur 2016 Power of the Purse Luncheon speaker is Lori Greiner of Shark Tank! If you’re wondering why we chose her- it was easy-she’s a strong woman who knows how to persevere and that makes her a perfect fit for us!
As one of the female “sharks” on the ABC show, this “Queen of QVC” is a tenacious businesswomen and highly successful entrepreneur. She started out with an idea for an earring holder in 1997 and 400 inventions & 120 patents later, she’s still at it.

I’ll share one story with you but I have to save the rest for the luncheon. The first time Lori met with a patent attorney, her husband came along and sat off to the side for support. Within minutes she realized that the attorney was only talking to her husband and wasn’t directing any of the conversation to her! She interrupted him and asked to speak with a female partner in the firm. That lawyer, Natalie Kadievitch, is still her attorney today. This sort of thing has happened to most of us at some point in our lives. My experience was when I was a young mother shopping for a new car. The salesman directed the entire conversation to my husband, showing him how he could fit his hunting equipment in the trunk. I stopped him and said, “It’s going to be MY car. So you need to talk to me; I need to know how groceries and kids’ stuff will fit in the trunk!” He obviously lost the sale.

If you haven’t signed up for the luncheon, do it before we sell out. Bring a friend, a relative or a neighbor- it’s going to be a great event! http://women.oshkoshareacf.org/Power-of-the-Purse/the-power-of-the-purse-luncheon

Have a wonderful holiday!



Cherri Vierthaler
Vice-President of the Oshkosh Women’s Fund



Your success will have everything to do with how you perceive yourself, because how you perceive yourself is how others will perceive you, too.“-Lori Greiner