W.I.L.L wins a $20K grant

For the second year in a row, the Women in Learning and Leadership (W.I.L.L.) program at the College received a grant of $20,000 from the Bunbury Company, a private foundation supporting charitable organizations from the central New Jersey area.

The W.I.L.L. program is in its sixth year at the College and combines an academic program with a student organization for its nearly 100 members. According to Mary Lynn Hopps, program director of W.I.L.L., the main focus of the program is for members to obtain the components of leadership skills, including public speaking and conflict resolution and to form a deeper understanding of women’s roles in society. It is the only four-year program of its kind in the state.

Last year, the first $20,000 grant that was given to W.I.L.L. by the Bunbury Company was used for conducting leadership workshops as well as the sponsoring and co-sponsoring lecturers on women’s activism, Hopps said.

She said the majority of the grant was used to send several students to Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) seminars in Washington D.C. One student was also able to attend a competitive leadership conference at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

“Before we received the grant, I was only able to send one or two of the students to these seminars” Hopps said. “Now with this new budget, I’m able to send a greater number of the members.”

The women speakers at these seminars have included Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Lifetime: Television for Women vice president for public affairs Mary Dixon and numerous senators and congresswomen.

According to the PLEN Web site, it is the only national organization whose sole mission is preparing women for public leadership. Besides offering many seminars, PLEN also offers internships that one student from the College was able to participate in last year.

Jen Braverman, sophomore art/education major, said she attended PLEN’s Women, Law and Public Policy last year and found it “really empowering.” “It had nothing to do with my major, but still the program was so interesting,” she said.

While W.I.L.L. is not completely clear on where every penny of this year’s grant will go, Hopps said a part of the grant will also be going toward sending two W.I.L.L members to an international leadership conference in Prague.

The funds from the awarded grant were also used to pay for supplies for W.I.L.L.’s academic capstone course. The course emphasizes women’s leadership in order to bring about social change.

In the past years, the students of the class were able to reach out to the local community and address problems of the trafficking of women as well as women in poverty.

Currently W.I.L.L. is working on raising awareness around campus on the “many faces of domestic violence,” a display that can be seen in Bliss Hall.