Women Helping Women Fund (WHWF) was founded in 1992 by six pioneering women passionate about developing a philanthropic fund focused on improving the lives of women and children in Spokane County. Their legacy continues today with a board of directors and staff who bring their collective experience and enthusiasm together to drive change for our region’s most vulnerable citizens.
This report signifies a shift in focus for our organization. We have always taken our responsibilities to our donors very seriously and read diligently over grant applications, conduct robust site visits and ask a million questions. But while doing so, we kept asking ourselves, “Are we making a difference? How can we know where we can make the most difference? Where should we focus our attention to make a lasting and deep impact on issues facing women and children?”
It became quickly apparent that we had access to health, economic and non-profit data from many, many different organizations. We asked — what if we synthesized that data through a lens focused on women and children? Not only would we be able to see where the greatest need was and adjust our funding to strategically and proactively tackle issues, we could also track need over time to see if we were helping to actually make a difference. In addition, we could share this information with non-profit agencies, city and county officials, and other organizations to help focus on areas that the data indicated were gaps and needed attention.
In 2016, WHWF established a Community Needs Working Group and partnered with Spokane Regional Health District’s Data Center to develop a report and data visualization dashboard focused on those indicators that most clearly impacted women and children. A Steering Committee was assembled to leverage the expertise of stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors. Steering Committee members included representatives from WHWF, Spokane Regional Health District, Innovia Foundation, MultiCare Health System, Providence Health Care, and Eastern Washington University.
This project is bounded by optimism, focused on Spokane’s many attributes that can positively contribute to a better future for all children and women who live here. The county boasts an engaged business community and a municipal government that is investing in infrastructure and affordable housing. The area features multiple Spokane-based universities and institutes of higher education that collaborate with decision-makers on innovative community-based partnerships. A group of generous local philanthropists continue to demonstrate their commitment to investing in the well-being of all Spokane’s citizens. Last but not least, there are many non-profit organizations and initiatives focused on improving the lives of women and children here.
This project was truly a collaboration across a multitude of talented and skilled team members from Spokane Regional Health District, Innovia Foundation, MultiCare Health System, Providence Health Care, and Eastern Washington University. It is with profound gratitude that we thank every one of you. Your contributions were critical and we could never have gotten to this point without your support.
Finally, we offer this report to the community of Spokane in the hope that this will shine a light on data that will drive informed decision-making in regards to the situation of women and children. This report is not the end. This is only the beginning. We will continue to update the indicators and report annually on areas where we know we can make a difference.
And as the report shows, we have a lot of work to do. But we know that we can do it together.
Hamlin Executive Director, WHWF