Research has shown that a woman with a college degree will earn 75 percent more than a woman possessing solely a high school diploma. But beyond this simple earnings statistic, the University of Toledo's Catherine S. Eberly Center for Women developed its program, Project Succeed, to help women in transition achieve economic self-sufficiency and personal development.
When the Center proposed a need to expand Project Succeed in 2009, the Foundation awarded a $43,702 grant allowing the Center to reach 150 more women.
According to the Center’s program manager, Angela Spoerl, different forms of Project Succeed have existed through the Center since 1983. This most recent incarnation of Project Succeed came about due to needs expressed by other community centers also dedicated to helping women in transition.
Angela explains, "The YWCA Battered Women's Shelter, Ella P. Stewart Elementary School and Lucas County Metropolitan Housing Authority all expressed a need to partner with Project Succeed in order to bring our program to women they were helping. We developed modified versions of our 10-week Women's Success Series program, adapting our services to fit the needs of each of our new partners without duplicating services and worked with women on-site at the three locations."
Project Succeed's programming focused on personal, professional and educational development.
Angela notes, "We helped the women identify their goals and then counseled them on how to reach those goals. It was amazing to see the change take place: women who hadn't thought that higher education would be a possible path to take in their lives realized that it was attainable."
The Foundation was able to support the entire Project Succeed expansion, including the program coordinator and the supplies and equipment necessary to conduct the program on-site at various locations. According to Angela, at the completion of the year-long program expansion, all three community partners were interested in continuing the program.
"The impact of the program was remarkable," she explains, "Sixty-five women attended cohort groups after their program participation was complete, 25 women decided to come to the Eberly Center for individual counseling appointments about pursuing college educations or finishing their GEDs, others continued to connect with us through advocacy work and our workshops for Jobs of the Future - healthcare and green economy positions."
Sharon is just one of the women impacted by the outreach. She is a 50-year-old resident of Toledo who worked 26 years at GM, but retired early due to several health concerns. After retiring Sharon felt a sense of loss as to what was next for her, but she had an interest in designing clothes.
She heard about Project Succeed through a friend and attended the LMHA outreach program. Because of her age, Sharon had been worried she would be unable to find anyone to help her further her education and pursue her dreams, but through the program Sharon found exactly what she had been looking for.
Sharon said Project Succeed helped her find her own inner strength, and has shown her how to focus on her goals. After the outreach experience, she attended the Success Series at the Eberly Center. She has a new focus on personal health and fitness, the ability to use technology on her own, specifically to conduct online research for her new business, and the confidence she needed to begin college.
Sharon will enroll at The University of Toledo to obtain a bachelor of arts in business management with a minor in visual arts, and continues to work hard to develop her clothing design business, "Rose of Sharon Fashions."
Angela notes that Sharon's story is not unusual for Project Succeed participants. The women the Center reaches out to include women dealing with job loss, domestic violence survivors, single mothers and women beginning new chapters in their lives.
"A lot of the women we help are going through some sort of crisis in their lives. People sometimes find it challenging to navigate through difficult situations, but the Eberly Center and Project Succeed help women see new opportunities and options,” she adds.
The Foundation proudly supports Eberly Center's Project Succeed and the success of today's women and generations of women yet to come.