Letter from the Past President

Christine Avey
Past President

It has been my sincere honor to serve as President of IWCF these last two years alongside an absolutely incredible board of directors. Throughout the pandemic, I have been reminded of the strength of our membership, the passion of our leaders, and the depth with which you all care for our community. I am so proud of the impact we have made and continue to make in our region and beyond. I look forward to gathering with you all in person this year at our upcoming events and meeting our newest members.

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Mikel Ward as your next President. She is the ideal person to lead IWCF into this 20th Anniversary year with her big heart, broad community leadership experience, and vision for growing IWCF’s philanthropic impact.

Thank you for your support these last two years!



Letter from the President

Mikel Ward

What an amazing, challenging, and fulfilling last year and a half. We have not only survived but have also surpassed all our expectations!

We just completed our second largest grant giving year in the history of IWCF. We distributed over $220,000 to local nonprofits which included the funding of seven grants and a $5000 award to each of our ballot runner-ups. Since we were unable to celebrate in person, we enabled our grantees to create videos about their projects. They were shared at the Annual Meeting and will live forever on our website—a tradition I hope will not end when we can meet again in person. Since 2001, through the power of collective giving, IWCF has distributed $2,716,472 in pooled-fund grants to nonprofits in southwestern Idaho and $2,499,450 to our members’ individually designated nonprofits—a total of $5,215,922. Thank you to Jennifer Sampson, and all those who have served in the grants chair role before her, for their leadership and dedication to our mission.

We reached a milestone of 400+ members and held a significant number of educational, enriching, and socially engaging membership events all during the worst pandemic our world has experienced in over 100 years. How many of you even knew Zoom existed before 2020? How many of you continue to find it saves commuting time and don’t want or plan to give it up?

We are also very proud of the work our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee began, even before the tragic events that occurred in our nation this past year. We will continue to look for opportunities to incorporate that work and seek new voices in our committees in 2021 and beyond.

I look forward to celebrating our 20th Anniversary on September 12th (outside and in-person!) at the beautiful Idaho Botanical Garden while being entertained by a Boise Philharmonic string quartet. This will be one of their first in-person events as well. Watch for your Save the Date email later this month and your invitation in the mail in August. I hope you will all join us to celebrate our truly remarkable accomplishments over the last 20 years.  

As we make the return to in-person meetings and events, would you consider joining a committee? Over my many years with IWCF, I’ve only found there to be a richer value and positive benefit from becoming more involved. Whether you’d like to dig into grant applications, help spread the word about IWCF and its accomplishments, enjoy social media and content creation, or plan our many educational or social events, there is a place for you. Please consider taking your membership to the next level this year. You can visit the volunteer section of our website or you’re always welcome to reach out to me directly at Currently, both our Education and Communications & Marketing Committees are actively seeking additional volunteers. If you would like more information on these two committees, the chairs would be happy to answer any questions you have.

I am so grateful to all of you for your support, commitment, and belief in the power of collective giving and how our collaboration can truly transform the nonprofits in our communities. I am so excited for the opportunity to serve as your President for the next two years.

Mikel Ward


IWCF Members Continue to Make a Major Impact Through Collective Giving

By Beth Schattin, Marketing Committee & Pam Briggs, Grants Storytelling

Once again, IWCF members have joined forces to make a huge difference in our community. This year, we will be investing over $220,000 back into nonprofits throughout southwest Idaho. That’s the second largest amount in the history of IWCF! Seven grants will be funded in our six Interest Areas—Cultural Arts, Education, Environment, Health, Financial Stability, and Rural Communities—in addition to awarding a $5,000 contribution to each of the ballot runner-ups. 

Ada Soil & Water Conservation District: Treasure Valley Pollinator Project ($20,000)
The Treasure Valley Pollinator Project, led by the Ada Soil & Water Conservation District, seeks to promote pollinator education to the community. “This project will bring the passion of pollinators into their own backyards,” said Jessica Harrold, Programs and Administrative Coordinator with Ada Soil & Water Conservation District. Pollinators are important and in decline, and the community can play an active role in maintaining healthy habitat for the native insects, pollinator species, and beneficial insects that are cornerstones in our environment and crucial to our ability to produce food and seeds.

As the Treasure Valley grows from farms and natural habitat into smaller suburban lots, the responsibility of pollinator habitats, especially for the native insects, transfers to smaller landowners. Commercial and residential plantings are often maintained by chemicals and flowering/fruiting plants are discouraged. The dirt that once provided homes and habitat for ground-dwelling bees and insect larvae is paved and very little of the ground is designed with deliberate consideration for pollinators and beneficial insect habitat.

The project includes several activities:

  • Planting 64,000 flowering species specifically chosen for encouraging pollinators
  • Education that includes a contracted part time entomologist to provide field day education, assist in pollinator identification on social media and help with citizen science engagement
  • Development of educational materials and event promotion

Boise Contemporary Theater: Boise Idaho Playwright of Color (BIPOC) Play Readers Festival ($30,000)
Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) will host an annual summer play reading festival focused on the work of BIPOC (Boise Idaho Playwright of Color) artists. The plays will be selected from BIPOC playwrights through a nationwide call for new plays. The festival will bring playwrights, actors, and directors from across the country to Boise to share new voices and new stories with our community. The IWCF grant will fund the first year of this annual event (2021/2022) and will cover playwright and theater salaries, the rental of the Morrison Center, and travel and housing for artists.

In alignment with the mission and vision of BCT, the hope is that this event will “inspire our community to examine our perspectives and better ourselves, each other, and the world around us through exposure to thought-provoking stories of the human experience.” 

As Boise grows with unprecedented speed, the city’s demographics are expanding and growing with it. The vast majority of arts and cultural offerings here do not reflect these changes. Both here, and nationally, there has been a reckoning in the arts world to amplify and support the voices and stories of underrepresented people in order to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. “The beauty and importance of theater is that it not only holds a mirror up to its audience to examine our perspective but … also provides a window into human experiences that may look very different from one’s own,” said Benjamin Burdick, Producing Artistic Director. BCT would like to bring artists of color to Boise,  not only to entertain and inspire the usual theater-goers and arts lovers but to entertain and inspire those people who may not have previously seen themselves reflected on a stage or through live storytelling. 

Boise Public Schools Education Foundation: Boise Community Schools Expansion ($30,000)
Boise Public Community Schools brings together partners to offer a range of support and opportunities to children, youth, families, and communities for an integrated focus on academics, health, and social services. Similar resources are established in other public schools, but the Boise Community School Expansion is the first one located in a traditional high school.

The grant supports the Community School Expansion at Capital High School. Per school quarter, the program estimates health, basic needs, and social services will support up to 400 students, and youth and community development activities will support up to 300 students. Family engagement in English, parenting, and job training will support up to 200 students and parents annually.

“The programming…allows our kids to have all of those resources that they need to keep them in school and focus on their academics,” said Stacy Roth, Administrator of Student Programs for Boise School District. “It also allows kids to minimize the loss from their time outside the classroom. By having the services on site we are able to keep the kids in their classroom for more academic time, which is essential to their success.” 

Family Health Services: Expanding Health Services in Frontier Camas County ($30,000)
The stress and uncertainties of living during a pandemic have greatly increased the need for access to mental and behavioral health services. Family Health Services (FHS) is the sole provider in Fairfield, a remote town with access limited by its mountain location. The expanded health services enable access to affordable mental health and behavioral health care as well as access to affordable and efficient dental imaging services. 

The grant funding for the FHS project supports new health and counseling services from a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. “Providing behavioral health counseling, I strongly believe, will save lives in Camas County and the surrounding counties,” said Aaron Houston, CEO of Family Health Services. In an area where no mental health providers currently practice, the grant will support 400 patient visits. In addition, the purchase of a new dental sensor will result in better reliability and image resolution. These services will identify and address issues early to effectively promote improved health outcomes in the community.

Idaho Humane Society: Providing Access to Medical Care at Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee County ($30,000)
People living in underserved communities characterized by systemic poverty and structural inequity face barriers to affordable veterinary and pet wellness services. The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is an isolated community located in the vast high desert, with no on-site veterinary services. The Idaho Humane Society (IHS) project provides this care by transporting dogs and cats between the Shoshone Paiute Duck Valley Indian Reservation and the IHS Veterinary Medical Center and Adoption Center (Center). 

“The grant is so important right now because there are so many animals needing our help,” said Nadia Novick, Chief Operating Officer. “We have already helped over 500 animals and are quite sure there are at least that many needing services.” The grant funding directly supports the Center’s services, where the animals will receive spay and neuter surgeries, basic vaccinations, and necessary wellness care. IHS returns the owned animals that have been sterilized and treated back to owners on the reservation, and re-homes surplus animals originating from the reservation through adoptions. These services directly address the issue of free-roaming and unsocialized animals, as well as ensuring the health of companion animals. The project benefits the entire estimated 1,300 resident population of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

Jesse Tree: Funding New Security Deposit Program ($30,000)
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasure Valley was facing a housing crisis in which longtime residents were being priced out of their homes or apartments, leaving many to find new housing in a shrinking rental market. Jesse Tree is the only organization in the Treasure Valley focused on providing wrap-around support and services with preventive financial assistance to these renters. The Security Deposit Assistance (SDA) program will quickly connect people experiencing a financial crisis and at risk of homelessness to housing through the creation of relationships with landlords and property managers in the community as well as security deposit assistance.

“The Treasure Valley is experiencing a serious housing crisis right now. We saw the highest increase in rent in the entire United States last year. This grant will ensure tenants…can find a place to live and don’t fall into homelessness,” said Ali Rabe, Executive Director. Funds support case management and housing navigation services through the hire of two housing navigation coordinators, employee training, the purchase of computer and DocuSign equipment, and preparation and mailing of marketing materials. 

The SDA program is unique in that it connects people directly to housing by offering security deposit and housing navigation support. It provides case managers as well as access to additional partnerships, equipment, and materials for clients who are in crisis while looking for housing. The program will be implemented for the first time this year and is expected to serve households in 2021.

Lutheran Community Services Northwest: “Safe Families for Children” in Treasure Valley ($25,000)
COVID-19 has exposed the critical need for programs such as Safe Families for Children to lessen the pressure on an overburdened child welfare system and to reduce the likelihood of childhood trauma and maltreatment. People struggling with poverty are at an even greater risk of being pushed to the brink by pandemic-related stresses. Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW) developed this program to serve distressed, isolated families in crisis situations.

The grant funding for Safe Families for Children provides concrete support to vulnerable families at critical times such as job loss, domestic violence, and medical emergencies which can seriously undermine a parent’s ability to be a dependable caregiver. Parents can temporarily place their children in the care of another loving family while they are given the support and resources from LCSNW. Safe Families will serve two to five families in crisis, or an estimated 20 individuals.

“We lift people up where they are. We surround each other with support and hold each other up,” said Jessica Ruehrwein, Boise District Director.



2021-2022 Board of Directors

Thank You!

The Leadership Development Committee wishes to extend sincere thanks to those leaving the Board of Directors for their outstanding dedication and service.

IWCF’s 2021 Member Survey

Administered by the DEI Committee

By Nicole Patterson, DEI  Chair

In 2019, IWCF sponsored our first IWCF Member “Climate” Survey. A few of the resulting actions by the IWCF Board and Committees included:

  • Offering a payment plan for annual dues, of which 25 members have taken advantage.
  • Piloting an alternative annual membership at $625 (without the IGD), in which 53 members have enrolled.
  • Sponsoring the virtual book discussion of Melinda Gates’s book, The Moment of Lift, with guest speaker IWCF member Laura Barton, who previously worked for the Gates Foundation. The event resulted in great discussions around impactful philanthropy and, since it was virtual, enabled us to include members of the Women’s Gift Alliance (Kootenai County) and Wood River Women’s Foundation, two other Idaho-based collective giving organizations. 
  • Creating the IWCF “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee” and adding DEI leadership to our Board of Directors.
  • Integrating additional concepts in our grants’ training, utilizing closed captioning for some of our virtual events, and offering an Unconscious Bias workshop for our members.

We recently conducted our second member survey to ask for member input. The survey feedback will again help the IWCF board and committees:

  • Learn more about our members’ vision for IWCF and collect input for future IWCF planning and decision-making.
  • Understand how we are living our value of inclusiveness: Do members feel accepted, valued, and affirmed in our IWCF community?
  • Gather demographic data to better understand who our members are. 

Members’ responses were once again anonymous and will be analyzed, summarized, and shared with members later this summer. 

We’re also excited by the strong 2021 Members Survey response rate: 

  • 168 members responded (42%), up from a 34% response rate to our 2019 survey. 
  • The ages of survey respondents ranged from age 13 to 87. We actually had two 13-year-old members respond! 
  • We generally had a good distribution of responses from members of all “tenures” (years as an IWCF member). The highest number of responses came from “three-year” members (12% of responses).

The response rate helps us feel confident that the results are representative of our overall membership and will be helpful in the next phase of deeper data analysis.

Although we will compile a summary of all data later this summer, we wanted to share one initial item related to the core of our philanthropic mission. 94% of our members feel confident that their IWCF pooled-fund grant contribution makes a positive impact in our Southwest Idaho Community.

Thanks to all 168 of you who completed the survey—for taking the time to share your IWCF membership experience, your input, and to guide our future decision making and activities.

Welcome to IWCF!
IWCF is excited to welcome Breanna Vanstrom as a new Blue Ribbon member. Thank you for joining our mission!



Collaborative Philanthropy: Catalyzing the END of Neglected Tropical Diseases

By Molly Harder, Education Chair

Mark your calendar for our September education event titled Collaborative Philanthropy: Catalyzing the END of Neglected Tropical Diseases with Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including more than 1 billion children. The END Fund’s mission is to ensure people at risk of NTDs can live healthy and prosperous lives and is currently the only private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the most common NTDs.

This virtual event is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Longtime IWCF member Marti Agler will be introducing her daughter. A special “thank you” to them both for donating their time to this very informative event. 

Watch your email for more details on registering for this event as well as our October Education event which will focus on domestic violence in the COVID-19 era.

If you would like to help plan our education events, or have connections to local speakers in our Interest Areas, the Education Committee is looking for a few members to join our fun group! Please contact Molly Harder, Education Committee Chair, via email at for more info.



Annual Meeting and Grants Presentation

By Jennifer Dunmire, Marketing Chair and Mikel Ward, President

A long library bookshelf divides the large room of cozy plush couches, multiple activity desks, chairs, and art or school supplies. We see a closet filled with clothing, hygiene products, toiletries, a complete kitchen and food pantry, a full bathroom with showers一anything a kid could need to help them feel stable. Jennifer Henderson, Executive Director of the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation, is guiding us through the Frank Church Community School, an existing community school similar to the one they will be building at Capital High School using funds from their new IWCF grant. It almost feels like we are really there taking a tour in person!

Despite the May 11 Annual Meeting and Grants Presentation being virtual, the videos from each of the seven pooled-fund grantees engaged IWCF members and guests in a personal way as they shared their spaces and projects. In fact, the grantee videos were so impactful, we hope to include them in future in-person annual meetings!  

Along with grantee videos, we described the past, present and future of IWCF. Out-going president, Christine Avey, shared our Year in Covid and how IWCF surpassed all our goals in numbers from membership to grants to event involvement (all those Zoom presentations!). Grants Chair, Jennifer Vroman Sampson, recapped the grants season. We are distributing over $220,000 to 12 organizations—we were able to give each of our runner ups $5,000—representing eight Idaho counties and over 20,000 households. She reminded us of the huge impact we are making in our state. We should all be very proud of what we are doing.

Mikel Ward, incoming president, ended the meeting with her goals for getting back as soon as possible to in-person events, introducing a new IWCF website this summer, and the upcoming 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Idaho Botanical Garden on September 12th.

Thank you to the 65 members who tuned in live for the event and to the dedication and work of IWCF committee members! If you were unable to attend the Annual Meeting & Grants Presentation, you can still watch a recorded version online.

Mark Your Calendars


IWCF 20th Anniversary Celebration
Sunday, Sept. 12; 11 a.m.
Idaho Botanical Garden

Collaborative Philanthropy: Catalyzing the END of Neglected Tropical Diseases
Thursday, Sept. 16; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
via Zoom


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