Women's Leadership Network



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In February 2012 the United Way of Delaware County officially launched the Women's Leadership Network (WLN) with the guidance from 10 Delaware County women. These 10 women began meeting in 2011 to layout the vision and direction for this new affinity group. In 2012 WLN raised $33,000 and invested in 4 programs. Since then, the WLN has raised and invested over $1,000,000 in community programs that empower individuals and families to succeed. The Women's Leadership Network is one of the largest funders of social change in Delaware County. 100% of financial gifts flow directly to organizations they support. Along the way, WLN intentionally shines light on problems that few want to publicly talk about – like the heroin epidemic, domestic violence and human trafficking – contributing early to what have become state and national conversations. The Women’s Leadership Network is a strong advocate for families and children living with violence and constant crisis by ensuring their voices are heard and needs are addressed. Great strides have been made to provide children with school supplies and personal care items, so they can focus on learning – perhaps giving each child the opportunity to change their future circumstances. The WLN invested over $500,000 to a domestic violence shelter in Delaware County which opened in early 2019. Their leadership and early support was critical to this project. Moving forward the group has pledged $250,000 to the Strengthening Families initiative which promotes opportunities for children and families to learn, grow and thrive.

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Our WLN Priorities - Changing The Odds

The WLN has aligned with United Way of Delaware County to “Change the Odds” for individuals and families in our community. Our priorities include investing time and financial gifts to:

Mission: To empower Delaware County residents through lifelong learning using a collective approach.
Vision: The Strengthening Families Initiative enhances the lives of Delaware County residents through comprehensive programming and collaborations.
Tag Line: Families Learn, Grow and Thrive

  • Provided $16,000 to establish 8 Born Learning Trails throughout Delaware County.
  • Provide operational support for the Willis Education Center hub which provides a one stop service location for families and children. Learn more at DelawareCountyFamilies.org
    • Programs include:
    • Toy Lending Library for children birth to seven years old
    • Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy Assessments and Play Groups
    • Wellness Room (Mental Health Drop In and Appointment Based Counseling Services)
    • Afterschool Teen Room and Programming for Middle School Students
    • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Education
    • The Shop (Offering clothing, toiletries and basic needs)
    • Parenting Enrichment Education
    • Child Care Provider Roundtable and Education
    • Family Resource Center
    • Emergency Food Pantry
    • Monthly free medical and prescription clinic
    • Pathways to Hope Crisis Fund
    • Diaper Bank
  • Serve as a mentor to a Willis Innovation Learning Lab student. These are high school aged students working on credits to graduate in a non-traditional format. Mentors encourage and walk beside students often navigating multiple barriers and challenges.
  • Serve as a Strengthening Families volunteer.
  • Sponsor a child(ren) through the holiday wish program.
  • In-kind collection drives: Clothing for The Shop, Diaper Bank, etc.

Founded by WLN in 2013, this annual back to school event serves nearly 2,500 Delaware County children by providing the tools and resources that prepare kids for learning and success. Learn more at Supplies for Scholars.

  • WLN is the presenting sponsor for one large event in Delaware and community distribution sites in every school district throughout Delaware County. WLN funding supports the purchase of back to school supplies, backpacks and personal care items. Approximately $45,000+ is needed to support this event each year.
  • Volunteer at the main event held annually in July. Volunteers serve as shoppers, assist with overall logistics and interact with children and families who attend the event each year,
  • Sponsor a collection drive for school supplies and/or toiletry items.

    Established in 2017 and facilitated by a WLN Scholarship Committee.

    The WLN works in partnership with the Delaware Area Career Center (DACC) to identify students who have career goals but maybe limited with financial resources to complete coursework at DACC. This scholarship program seeks to remove barriers allowing students to successfully complete academic courses leading to employment and long-term stability.

    The WLN sets aside funding each year to support academic needs for students at DACC. Applications are reviewed by the WLN Scholarship Committee and approved by the WLN Steering Committee. As of 12/1/20: Over $15,000 awarded to 31 students.

    Financial Goal

    Since 2012, the WLN has raised over $1,200,000. 100% of the funding is invested back in Delaware County programs. WLN has committed $250,000 to Strengthening Families over a 3-year period (2019-2022); continued support for the Changing the Odds Scholarship Fund and Supplies for Scholars; along with coordinating meaningful, hands-on opportunities related to top priorities.

    The WLN works in conjunction with our community to replace barriers with opportunities, to change lives for the better, and provide new paths to brighter futures. In 2021, we celebrate 10 years of being a unified voice for our Delaware County neighbors. WLN has been an integral part of opening a hub of community services through Strengthening Families, establishing a domestic violence shelter and offering scholarships, school supplies and mentoring opportunities so students can pursue their educational and career goals.

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    WLN Advocate

    • Contribute a minimum gift of $25 or more annually to WLN. Giving year is April 1st-March 31st each year.
    • Receive monthly updates via eblast and social media

    Select Women's Leadership Network from the United Way initiative dropdown below.

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    “One thing we can do is tell the people who value our opinion the things we care about. That’s why we share the mission of Strengthening Families and the need in our community. We are excited to impact one child at a time, one family at a time through holistic services. The changes we can make in people’s lives will be amazing!”

    ~ Karen Baesman, WLN Advocate and Strengthening Families Game Changers Co-Chair


    "I serve on the WLN Steering Committee. I really enjoy volunteering at Supplies for Scholars each year. We help more than 2500 children receive free book bags, and other required school supplies AND free family activities, haircuts, and many other free resources are a part of the day. A favorite memory from volunteering was receiving the biggest hug from a second grade girl, when we found the Mermaid book bag she had wanted for a couple of years. I’m reminded of a favorite quote – 'service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.' " 

    ~ Angela Bretz, WLN Steering Committee


    “The work that we did, starting with brainstorming around the dining room table and pixie dust meetings discussing the important issues that were impacting our county, all came to fruition. Because when you come together with a vision and you invite people to give of their time, talents and treasures the possibilities are endless.” 

    ~ Marilyn McClure-Demers, WLN Founding Member and First WLN Chair


    "Volunteering for Girls on the Run was amazing. Inspiring young women actually was empowering for me. What I took away from the experience was that if you want to volunteer don’t wait! Make the time for it now.”

    ~ Erika Panovsky, WLN Advocate and Strengthening Families Volunteer


    “The WLN gave us our very first gift and we bought our property. From there we never looked back. Because of the WLN and community support you did it, we did it! We have a shelter! You made it happen! This is truly the most generous county. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every man, woman and child who is going to be sheltered there."

    ~ Paula Roller, Executive Director Turning Point


    “We sponsored a Born Learning Trail. Having twin grandsons we wanted to do something to dedicate to them. These trails promote active play and learning between parents, kids and families and are all over the county. What a great initiative.”

    ~ Judd Scott, United Way of Delaware County Board


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