The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Fund (originally named the YWCA Aurora Endowment Fund) was established in 1991 as a way for caring community members to help fund an impressive array of female-focused charitable programs benefitting the Aurora area.
The nonprofit foundation has served the Aurora community since 1893 when a group of forward-thinking Aurora women motivated to form an organization expressly for women, met in the Todd Building at 44 West Downer Place in Aurora. That first meeting led to the founding of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Aurora, Illinois in 1894, which years later became known as the Aurora YWCA.
Of particular note was that the organization’s first outreach program began in 1895 with a “noon rest for working girls” initiative. This outreach program helped to ensure that women working in area factories had one break each workday so they could eat something and use the washroom, something that was not offered at most businesses. The success of this first outreach program set in motion a series of focused activities on improving and enriching lives for Aurora women.
In 1906, the Aurora YWCA became a charter member of the YWCA of the USA and began decades of steady growth which included sponsored memberships for area youth to engage in special programs and camps designed to strengthen their life skills, leadership abilities, and employment opportunities.
Flash forward over a hundred years. When Aurora YWCA sold its building in 2018, the proceeds were used to form an endowment earmarked for the betterment of Aurora women and girls…and with that, Aurora YWCA transformed into the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF).
Today AWEF is an all-volunteer and board-run nonprofit that envisions a prosperous and vibrant Aurora that fully embraces and supports a reimagined women’s empowerment movement so that women and girls of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels feel respected and valued, and are nurtured to achieve their fullest potential.
AWEF’s mission is to elevate and empower Aurora-area women and future women by making grants to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofits engaged in meaningful, measurable work that helps women over the hurdles of inequity and exclusion, propelling them forward with life-changing programs and services.
The leading core values at the center of AWEF’s work are to:
- pay it forward so other women have the resources and are nurtured to grow into the fullest expressions of themselves
- engage, collaborate, and partner with results-focused, tax-exempt nonprofits who work to empower and elevate women and girls
- create diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities where women and girls feel that they belong
- conduct all work with integrity, transparency, fairness, and compassion WITH a strong bias towards saying “yes” to those submitting letters of intent (LOIs) and grant proposals
- serve as a catalyst for real and lasting change through funding programs that promote and engender the ethical, equitable treatment of women and girls now and in the future.