Girl Power Grants Give Generously

Local Student Spearheads Grant Effort

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CCPS student Morgan Rhudy founded Girl Power Grants. She loves to help people and has done more than 650 hours of service a year, including her work with GPG. She has worked with over 30 different organizations in her lifetime. The creation of this non-profit has answered a dream she has possessed for many years. Girl Power Grants promote the idea of working to create true change in the world. GPG is a community involvement concept founded by girls, led by girls, with the goal to get girls involved. Over the years, the organization has raised money to support various non-profit organizations, including: Home Again Richmond, the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, Stay Strong Virginia, and American Red Cross. GPG sponsors include: Cowan Gates, Rhudy & Co., and Robins School of Business.

GPG started with two committees: grants and memberships, and six leadership team members. Since 2015, they have expanded to six committees: grants, memberships, service and fundraising, events, finance, and ambassadors with twelve leadership team members, fifteen ambassadors, and ten committee members. With a joining fee of $100, each girl puts forth a considerable amount to help offer grants to organizations like these.  They choose which organization will receive their biggest grant by popular vote. Every member who raises $100 towards their grant has the opportunity to participate in a process called grants review. When they receive the grant applications from nonprofits, they the grants committee summarizes them, which initiates deep discussions surrounding these major questions: How many people will this project serve? Why does this issue matter to me? How will we be able to get involved with this organization? Will this organization be a good partner in philanthropy? Next, based on a popular vote, they select the top three finalists to present live at the Big Give, pitching their project proposals to the members and other attendees. Members again have the opportunity to select their favorite based on that criteria, and the organization with the most votes becomes the “grantee” for the year!

Currently, the organization has over one hundred girls among their ranks, along with clubs stationed at James River High School, Midlothian Middle School, St. Edwards (Kindergarten through 8th grade), Clover Hill High School, and Douglas S. Freeman High School and are currently in the process of expanding their outreach to even more schools. According to Rhudy, seventy-five girls have been with the program since its first year of operation. Girl Power Grants has been featured on Star 100.9Virginia This Morning, NBC12, CBS6, Robious Corridor, Richmond Times Dispatch, Richmond Family Magazine, Henrico Citizen, Chesterfield Observer, and WRIC Channel 8. In addition to raising money for many worthy non-profits, they also have hosted a Big Kick, a Big Learn and a Big Give meeting for the past three years, which are the three biggest meetings throughout the year, but members also come together throughout the year for club chapters, parties, and get-togethers. All meetings and events are optional, and involvement is up to each individual member. The Big Kick begins the new volunteer year and gains new members. In November, The Big Learn is an opportunity for members to learn about the biggest needs in the area. The Big Give occurs in March every year, when the organization awards the $10,000 grant. 

At its 3rd Annual Big Give on March 14, Girl Power Grants awarded a $10,000 grant to Home Again, a Richmond shelter for families facing homelessness that provides tools and resources homeless families need to find a home and get back on their feet again. The non-profit also awarded $1,000 to each of their two finalists: the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation and Stay Strong Virginia. In 2016, Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation received the first $10,000 grant. In 2017, Young Lives Metro Richmond received the girls’ second $10,000 grant. The next meeting will be on Saturday, April 28th, when all of the new grantees, Home Again, Stay Strong VA, and ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, will attend and receive their grant money. Rhudy feels excited about the future prospects of the organization.

How did you find the inspiration for such an organization? 

Girl Power Grants was inspired by an organization for women, Impact 100. Working with the same premise, each of their adult members gives $1,000 a year to fund a $100,000 grant. My mom was a founding member of the organization, so I grew up with the idea in mind that THIS is what giving looks like. We had a lot of support from a few members of Impact in our first year, learning how to get things done, and are eternally grateful for those individual’s support. Since founded in 2015, we’ve grown and changed, and our mission has developed into ways we never would have imagined.

Have you always been interested charity?

Honestly, yes. I care deeply about the needs of our community, and I know there are so many girls out there like me who do too. There is no feeling more rewarding than the feeling that comes from helping others, and no act of service or kindness is too small. GPG gives girls the opportunity to use their voices, advocate, and amplify the harsh realities of how much need there is in our area.

Is there any particular reason you created an organization just for girls, and have you ever thought of also creating one for boys?

There are no other community programs in our area created for girls, by girls, and led entirely by girls. We are all about providing leadership opportunities for young women in our area, while teaching the important values of giving. This unique opportunity has opened doors for many of our members and inspired them to go on and make change as advocates for the issues they care most about. GPG is a new way to give and to serve, and there is no other program like it for girls in our area. We love being game-changers.

What organization have you made donations to in the past?

Since 2015, GPG has given $34,500 back to six local nonprofits:

  • $10,000 to the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, helping teens with mental illness
  • $10,000 to YoungLives, serving teen moms
  • $500 to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief
  • $10,000 to HomeAgain, a shelter serving homeless teens and their families
  • $2,000 to ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, helping pediatric cancer patients
  • $2,000 to Stay Strong Virginia, providing support to teens with eating disorders

Have you worked or would you like to work with any animal shelters or rescue facilities?

We have not yet worked with any animal shelters or rescue facilities, but are completely opened to the idea! Our grants are typically geared toward organizations serving different demographics of youth in need, but we see great value in investing in programs such as those.

How many emergency grants have you given?

So far, we have given one emergency grant to the American Red Cross. We gave this grant last fall to help hurricane victims across the country. We raised this money through bake sales, lemonade stands, and online fundraising, and successfully gave $550 to the local chapter.

When is the next fundraiser?

In October, we do all of our fundraising in the fall. Follow us on Instagram @girlpowergrants.va to stay up-to-date on our local fundraisers. All money from our fundraisers goes to our scholarship program and event costs.

How long have you partnered with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation?

We’ve been working with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation since they were awarded our grant back in 2016!. Since, we’ve continued that partnership by being ambassadors for teenage mental health awareness and participating/promoting their many local events.

Will GPG support the Out of Darkness Walk/Depression Awareness Walk in April?

We hope to! Because of our partnership with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation, many of our members continue to advocate for mental health programs and awareness in schools in our area (myself included).  We participate in many walks/runs for organizations in the area, and would love to have a presence at this event.

For more information,  visit the organization’s website: http://girlpowergrants.org