The Business Women’s Giving Circle Celebrates Girls, STEM and Opportunity

On Behalf of Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C. | Jan 27, 2020 | Community

Each year, the Business Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia awards grants to local non-profit organizations that provide instruction and enrichment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to girls and young women in Northern Virginia. OFP Shareholder Catherine Schott Murray serves as the BWGC’s chairperson for 2020, and we asked her to share key facts about the organization and its main goals.

Catherine Schott Murray, Esq.

What is the Business Women’s Giving Circle at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?
CSM: The Business Women’s Giving Circle (“BWGC”) brings together engaged women who support our mission to invest in innovative programs that empower girls and young women in Northern Virginia, connect meaningfully with members and grantees, and inspire others to join the power of collective philanthropy.

How does the BWGC benefit and empower girls and young women in the region?
CSM: Since BWGC was launched in 2014 by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, more than $300,000 has been awarded to organizations that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).  Such organizations typically also have some element of leadership, mentorship, entrepreneurship and the arts as part of their programs.  The impact of such grants has reached over 2,700 girls and young women in Northern Virginia.

As the new Chair of the BWGC, what are your priorities for 2020?
CSM: There is a national trend towards giving circles with the average size of a giving circle being 100 members that annually awards $100,000.  In 2020, the BWGC is focused on growth of the Circle to continue as one of the premier giving circles in the region.  Additionally, the BWGC wants to further promote engagement of its members with each other and our grantees.

How/when may an organization apply for a grant?
CSM: The request for proposals is sent out in late July through the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.  Applicants have until late September to apply.  Grant awards are announced in early December after the member driven grants process reviews and votes on the year’s list of grantees.

In addition to grant making, in what other ways does the BWGC support local girls and young women?
CSM: Members of the BWGC are given opportunities to volunteer with our grantees either as mentors, judges for a particular program or through board service, among other options.  Grantees also encourage BWGC members to attend their events and engage with the organization to further understand the needs of the community.

Does the BWGC accept donations?
CSM: Yes, general donations are accepted each year and allocated towards that year’s grant making pool.  Annual membership in the BWGC is $1,100 with $1,000 of each contribution allocated towards annual grant making.

How do I learn more about the BWGC?
CSM: For more information check out our website at, and follow us on Facebook  and LinkedIn.  Also, be sure to join us at our events!  Our next one is our Grantee Celebration to be held on January 30th.  More information can be found here.

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