Share this story

Despite the Pandemic, the Women’s Giving Circle Continues on Giving

By Jennifer Georgis, the executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation

Despite the Pandemic, the Women’s Giving Circle Continues on Giving


Last March, when the world began to shut down due to the pandemic, the members of the Women’s Giving Circle navigated the new “virtual” world and continued its mission of advancing Catholic education.

Founded in 2019, the Women’s Giving Circle was created to promote philanthropy though the power of collective giving, collaboration, and shared Catholic faith. With a focus on providing personal involvement in the philanthropic decision-making process, the members traditionally hosted in-person events and gatherings. When the pandemic forced the world to adopt new ways of staying connected, the members of the Women’s Giving Circle embraced the challenge and learned to create connection through technology.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the organization was in middle of its pinnacle event, the awarding of annual classroom grants. Throughout 2019 and 2020, it raised funds through membership dues and charitable contributions to fund grant proposals submitted by the schools for programs and projects that tuition traditionally cannot subsidize.

As Catholic schools pivoted to remote learning, the leaders of the organization made it clear that they would continue to support Catholic education. The grant review committee learned how to “Zoom” and met over video conferencing to vote on the grant finalists. Instead of a spring luncheon, the grant finalists were invited to submit a video presentation of their proposals. Members received the videos over email and cast their votes for the winning submissions.

When the schools returned to the classrooms last fall, the Women’s Giving Circle awarded $12,500 in grants to three diocesan schools from more than 20 impressive applications.

“We are proud to have dedicated and creative teachers in our Catholic Schools to inspire our students and guide them as they explore and expand their minds, hearts, and souls,” said Beth Sennett, a member of the Women’s Giving Circle. “These teachers and school communities should certainly be proud of this achievement.”

The group also continue its commitment to create connections of faith between its members. This past March, the women hosted a diocesan-wide virtual Lenten reflection. The event also served as a kick-off to the “Treat-a-Teacher” initiative.

Recognizing, the extraordinary efforts of our Catholic school teachers this year, the Women’s Giving Circle raised funds to purchase breakfast or lunch for all 40 diocesan grade schools. During Teacher Appreciation Week in May, the members traveled to each school and delivered meals to celebrate the incredible dedication teachers showed this year to keep schools open and thriving.

The organization will be continuing its mission throughout the summer, as it opens its 2021 grant cycle, once again funding opportunities for Catholic educators within the Diocese of Joliet to enhance their teaching through support of projects that may otherwise go unfunded.

The Women’s Giving Circle seeks to promote philanthropy that empowers women, compels action, advances Catholic education, and glorifies God through collective giving, collaboration, and shared faith. To learn more about the group and how you can join, visit’s-Giving-Circle or contact Jennifer Georgis, the executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, at 815-221-6131.

Despite the Pandemic, the Women’s Giving Circle Continues on Giving 2