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Women Leaders Raise Over $39,000 for Local Organizations

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BISMARCK – Beginning in March, participants of the Center for Technology & Business Women’s Leadership Program participated in the program’s annual philanthropic challenge. Armed with $100 in seed money each, 37 women in Bismarck-Mandan and Minot were challenged to grow the funds in a philanthropic project of their choice for their local community. The participants broke into small teams and had eight weeks to find a cause and determine the best way to give back.

In May the groups ventured out to deliver their surprise donations to a variety of organizations. Recipients in the Minot area included Backpack Buddies, Junior Achievement, Independence Inc., 4her ND, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, and Dakota Hope Clinic. Recipients in the Bismarck/Mandan area included Tracy’s Sanctuary House, Theo Art School, Ronald McDonald House Care Mobile, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bismarck-Mandan, AARC, Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library, Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota, and Backpacks for Kids.

In total, the groups delivered $39,241.68 in cash donations and in-kind contributions to local organizations. From fundraising art classes to connecting with intern programs at the University of Mary, each team took a different approach and used their own unique methods to pay it forward.

Nancy Andersen, Kolette McDonald, and Shawna Myers decided the best strategy for them was to leverage their co-workers at IRET Properties; through Jeans Days and special lunches they were able to collect enough funds to provide 555 weekend meal packs for Backpack Buddies. The organization provides non-perishable food items to students grades K-5 who are at risk of missing meals on the weekends.

Cindy Arnold and Katie Fitzsimmons raised money to purchase discounted dental supplies for the Ronald McDonald House Care Mobile, the program delivers urgently needed dental care to underserved children in their own neighborhoods in western ND. The women compiled 563 complete dental kits - each containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, sticker, and bag. Hundreds more toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste and over $1400 in cash funds to meet future needs were also provided.

“This is my favorite part of the program and I’m always so impressed with what the women are able to do for their communities in such a short amount of time,” stated Deb Eslinger, executive director of Center for Technology & Business. “The participants of the Women’s Leadership Program have already proven to others that they are tremendous leaders and this project just gives them the opportunity to prove that to themselves. Sometimes we don’t realize how capable we are of making a big difference in the lives of others, kudos to these women for going above and beyond!”

The Women’s Leadership Program is a six month program dedicated to expanding the professional, personal, community and health leadership skills for women of all ages. Over the last four years, 118 women have graduated from the program and they have contributed $148,122.60 to their communities through the philanthropic challenge. The 2015 program will wrap up with a luncheon and graduation ceremony on June 11 in Minot and on June 18 in Bismarck with keynote speaker Missy Ohe, owner of The Ohepen Mind out of Grand Forks. Missy will explore the world of “possibilities” and potential during her keynote. The public is invited to attend and can purchase tickets to the luncheon at http://trainingnd.com/news/womens-leadership-program-graduations or call 701-223-0707.

Center for Technology & Business serves as the women’s business center for North Dakota and grows North Dakota’s economy by helping small business owners succeed through training, technology and business development. Their programming develops leaders, builds rural communities and mentors women business owners.