Network Building

The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee has a unique approach to network building and grant making. Our regional Strong Women Strong Futures collaboration of like-minded non-profit partners works together to develop solutions around key issues impacting low-income women and girls in our 25 county service area. This year, those agencies wishing to apply for the two-year cycle of grant funding will submit applications from March 1 through March 31, highlighting program needs in the areas of post-secondary education and staffing for programs in this interest field. Strategic network convenings will occur periodically through the two-year cycle, with a focus on collectively pooling resources, conducting research and collaborating to help remove barriers to education for low-income women and girls. Grants will be awarded in July during each year, after a thorough vetting process.


The recently renewed Women’s Fund strategy for granting funds to non-profit partners will include the SWSF network outlined above, as well as a new, independent, one-time source of funding for agencies in our service area having emergency or operational needs that will ultimately have an impact on the self-sustainability of women and girls. Applications for these grants will be open in September each year, and awarded by December. These agencies will not be required to participate in the SWSF network, but will benefit from the growing resources the Women’s Fund manages.


In late 2015, the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee (WFET) conducted an evaluation of its grant making and reached the conclusion that the WFET could be more strategic with its philanthropic investments by:

1) Sharpening its focus

2) Finding a niche within a specific area of need

3) Building a network of agencies working to address that need.

After conducting a series of focus groups in 25 counties, the WFET found that a major barrier to post-secondary education in the region is a cultural and familial attitude discouraging women and girls from furthering their education beyond high school.

Consequently, the WFET made a three-year commitment to focus on this issue.


We believe that this investment will produce the following outcomes:

– A higher number of young women entering post-secondary education in communities served by the WFET

– Coordination of resources and communications among network organizations

– Lessons that can and will be shared

– Attention to public policy for women and girls around education in Tennessee

– Determine goals and activities for the next phase of work


COVID-19 effects on post-secondary education as reported by SCORE

Join us in celebrating Our 2023 Network Grantees!

The WFET carefully selects organizations that work to change the current pervasive and discouraging narrative that serves as a barrier to education for women and girls into a cultural mindset that every woman and girl deserves to make the most of herself by taking advantage of opportunities to further her education. After a thorough review, it was determined that the following organizations have extensive experience, deep passion, and are providing exemplary services throughout our region. These organizations have strong infrastructure in place, serve many populations, provide multi-county outreach, and demonstrate a clear commitment to the community.