Hunger, homelessness and food insecurity are just a handful of needs the Moscow Women’s Giving Circle raises funds for in support of local nonprofits and their efforts.

The group was founded about 14 years ago, according to co-leader Dulce Kersting-Lark, with the intent of bringing philanthropic-minded women together in Latah County to pool money for local nonprofits. She said each year a different theme is designated. This year, the focus is women and girls.

“Every year I get to learn about new nonprofits in the area and ways that needs in the community are being filled,” said Kersting-Lark, a five-year member of the group. “I get to learn about all of the wonderful work that’s being done in the community, like a summer camp for girls interested in STEM careers.”

Kersting-Lark, the executive director of Latah County Historical Society and also a recently declared candidate for a House seat in the Idaho Legislature, said originally each woman contributed $365 to represent one dollar for every day of the year, but the giving requirement has been adjusted to encourage more involvement. Some women give slightly more and some less depending on their ability, to raise an average of $20,000-$25,000 per year, she said.

Kersting-Lark said because the Giving Circle is not a nonprofit itself, all donations and funds are handled by the Latah County Community Foundation. With about 30 nonprofit requests to sort through, she said the final grant amounts fluctuate slightly, averaging $2,500.

“Our goal is to have 100 women donate this year in honor of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, but we are still a few dozen away,” Kersting-Lark said. “Over the years, there have been more than 200 women involved, as some participate for a while and cycle through to pursue other philanthropic endeavors, and some stay year after year.”

The giving period begins in the fall and continues through the end of February. Gifts can be made at moscowgivingcircle.org, she said.

The group’s other co-leader, Jaime Jovanovich-Walker, heard about the circle about five years ago through her previous boss at Palouse Land Trust, a local nonprofit. She said the circle has allowed her to see nonprofits in a different light by understanding the deep needs being served in the community.

“There was an opening to become one of the co-leaders, and I filled the need because this is by far my favorite philanthropic thing I do here in the community, and I want to be as committed as I can be,” Jovanovich-Walker said.

She said the general commitment for members is to get together three or four times a year, but there is no requirement for attendance. Members can self-select how involved they want to be, including spending more time and energy with the Grants Committee responsible for reviewing and narrowing all nonprofit applications.

She said the circle typically grants money to 8-12 nonprofits every year, rather than giving one large lump sum amount to one organization. She said grants are awarded by the end of April. In addition to nonprofits, Jovanovich-Walker said the group of women also support the Moscow School District with needs and projects.

“From the beginning and still to this day, I didn’t realize how many amazing organizations were doing good work in our community,” Jovanovich-Walker said. “It’s that discovering and learning more about really passionate people that just want to make our community a better place that truly is the best part.”

Allison Spain is a journalism student at the University of Idaho. She’s writing feature stories for the Daily News this spring. Send Allison story ideas to editor@dnews.com.

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