Rung for Women – Another Successful Connection

When Barbara Carswell, YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis CEO, became aware of Rung for Women a few years ago, she was impressed with the group’s mission and successes. As she learned more, she automatically began pondering a possible match to a YouthBridge fundholder.

The mission of Rung for Women is “Inspiring all women to climb the economic opportunity ladder.” According to Leslie Gill, President of Rung for Women, the organization was formed to help women make more money, but more than that, to assist women in living purposeful lives and feeling valued. Honoring YouthBridge’s partnership with Rung for Women is timely during Women’s History Month.

The year-long Rung for Women program is unique in that it is intentionally designed to address and remove barriers in a woman’s life. In addition to career development assistance – selecting a career pathway, connecting to training programs, updating resumes, and practicing interview skills – the program provides comprehensive support services.

Leslie explained that a wide array of services may be needed because the participant is a single mother or a caretaker for a loved one. “If they feel they can’t make it to class because of illness, they can get medical care at our campus. Or if they need to provide a meal for their family, they can get it here. Or perhaps they need childcare, or to unwind by participating in a yoga session.”

When Rung for Women began, its staff team tried to help with any career a woman was interested in. After three classes, the team paused for evaluation and realized that it was not practical to be all things to all people. They decided to focus on careers that: do not require a college degree, pay well with upward mobility, and have been historically male-dominated. They also researched anticipated growth of jobs in the St. Louis area, and as a result, focused on the technology and geospatial industries. Most recently, Rung for Women added advanced manufacturing to its career development offerings. The organization will soon begin its sixth class which will include its 500th woman participant!

Leslie shared that one of the biggest challenges faced by the organization is helping women understand that they can succeed in these types of jobs. The first obstacle is overcoming the mental block created by the traditional model that assumes women should have helping careers, while men should build things. Once this barrier is eliminated, the sky is the limit.

Leslie was surprised and tremendously pleased when she received word that a YouthBridge fundholder was gifting Rung for Women a significant unrestricted grant. She was unaware that Barbara had been watching Rung for Women, patiently waiting for the right time to propose them to the advisors of a fundholder with aligned goals. This relationship is just one example of what YouthBridge Community Foundation consistently seeks to do – connect resources and community needs! For the sake of the region’s women during Women’s History Month and beyond, Leslie hopes this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.

YouthBridge connects donors with community needs. If you are interested in learning more about how we can make charitable giving easier for you, please contact Michele Mosley.