Leadership Awards

A signature program of The Women’s Foundation, the Leadership Awards recognize local nonprofits demonstrating innovation or measurable success in their service of women and girls.  At the heart of this grassroots program is a commitment to rewarding outstanding—but undiscovered—organizations positively impacting women and girls, and engaging the donor community in substantive grantmaking and philanthropic learning.

The embodiment of “citizen philanthropy,” the Leadership Awards program engages more than 40 volunteers in every level of the selection of awardees – doing telephone interviews with key staff at the organizations, visiting the organizations to see their work in action, and evaluating all they have learned to select the final winners through deliberation and consensus. In addition, an online vote further opens up engagement opportunities to the rest of the community, allowing anyone to cast a vote for the organization of their choice to get an additional $5,000 award.

Grantmaking history

Since 1998, Washington Area Women’s Foundation has engaged hundreds of volunteers and thousands of community members and has awarded over $550,000 in Leadership Awards to more than 70 organizations in the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Price George’s counties in Maryland, and in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax counties in Virginia. 

In addition to financial support, Leadership Awardees benefit from the networking opportunities, training, and consulting available to all Grantee Partners of The Women's Foundation. 

In 1998, when the first Leadership Awards were made, each award was for $3,500 for a total of $17,500 awarded.  In 2010, The Women's Foundation made eight Leadership Awards of $10,000 each (plus one $5,000 award for the winner of an online vote), for a total of $105,000 in grantmaking. 

How it works


The Leadership Awards is a volunteer-driven program that recommends nonprofits--with staff support--for final approval by The Women's Foundation's board of directors.

For information on eligibility requirements for Leadership Awardees, click here. 

Leadership Awards volunteers:

  • Are current donors or make a gift to Washington Area Women’s Foundation during the Leadership Awards cycle.
  • Attend two meetings with the full committee, as well as 4-5 regional team meetings.
  • Participate in one of the four regional teams within the region (D.C., Northern Virginia, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County).
  • Participate in various stages of the selection process, including finding nominees, conducting phone interviews, attending site visits, selecting candidates and writing profiles. 
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest.  Committee members can nominate, but cannot review or vote for an organization with which they have a previous relationship.

To learn more or to volunteer, please contact:

Nicole Cozier
Philanthropic Education Officer
202.347.7737 ext. 203


Leadership Awardees since 1998

The theme of the 2010 Leadership Awards program was Between the Cracks & At the Intersections. Each of the following organizations received a $10,000 Leadership Award. MCC Medical Clinic received the Donna Callejon Online Leadership Award.

Beacon House (Young Women on the Rise Program)
Borromeo Housing, Inc.
City at Peace DC
DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (Domestic Violence Practice)
Education Strengthens Families Public Charter School
Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center
IMPACT Silver Spring
Mautner Project
Muslim Community Center Medical Clinic (Women's Health Services)
Thrive DC (Daily Bread/Daily Needs Dinner Program)

The 2009 Leadership Awards program focused on health and safety programs. Each of the following organizations received a $10,000 Leadership Award. 

Boat People S.O.S., Inc.
Calvary Women's Shelter
Daughter for the Day, Inc.
DC Trafficking Intervention Program (DC TIP) at Polaris Project
Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP)
Extended Day Program at the Washington Middle School for Girls
Family Preservation and Strengthening Services (Family PASS)
Friends of Guest House
Second Chance Employment Services
WIN WIN in Washington at Through the Kitchen Door

The 2007 Leadership Awards program focused on health and safety programs. Each of the following organizations received a $10,000 Leadership Award.  Fair Fund also won an additional $5,000 award for winning the first Leadership Awards Online Vote.   

Ascensions Community Service, Inc.
A Wider Circle
DC Abortion Fund
Divine Images Network, Inc.
Nueva Vida Support Network for Latinas with Cancer
Pregnancy Aid Centers, Inc.
The Women’s Collective

See a slideshow of the awards ceremony!

DC Redwings Youth Program Inc: GoGirlGo! Program
Child Center and Adult Services: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
Into Safe Arms of Northern Virginia
New Neighbors Education Center of Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia Coalition of Churches (NOVACO)
Polaris Project
Ramona’s Way
Virtuous Enterprises

Barrios Unidos: Girl Power
Computer C.O.R.E.
Digital Sisters
Empower Girls, Inc.
Facilitating Leadership in Youth (FLY)
Family Support Center, Inc: SISTERS
Tenants & Workers Support Committee: UNITY

African American Women’s Resource Center
Asian Women’s Self-Help Association (ASHA), Inc.
Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect: Morning Star Program
Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services (LARS)
Life Skills Workshop, Inc.
Silver Spring Interfaith Housing Coalition
Tahirih Justice Center

Alternative House: Girl Power
CASA of Maryland: Women’s Program
DC Employment Justice Center (EJC)
End Time Harvest Ministries, Inc.
Ophelia’s House
Our Place, DC

Chinatown Service Center
Friends of Guest House, Inc.
From Streets to Skills Social Services
Hope Abounds, Inc.
Institute for Family Development: Centro Familia
JHP, Inc: Living Wages Collaboration/Literacy Works
Lydia’s House
Potomac Healthcare Foundation: Avery House
Strategic Community Services, Inc: Teen Parents Rites of Passage

Community Bridges: Jump Start Girls! Adelante Ninas!
Crossway Community
Generations Closet
Northern Virginia Family Service: Training Futures
Rebecca Project for Human Rights (formerly Crossing the River)
Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE)
The Young Women’s Project

Capital Commitment, Inc.
Child and Family Network Centers (formerly Alexandria Community Network Preschool)
Community Ministry of Montgomery County: Friends in Action
Sister to Sister/ Hermana a Hermana
Women’s College Assistance Project