Congratulations to our 2023-24 Grant Recipients! 

Building Friendships Through Philanthropy

August, 2023


Board Chair  Nikki Carmody Ream

Past Board Chair  Susan Hoehn

Historian  Candise Holmlund

Grants Co-Chairs  Cathy Burch and Kathy Sage

Incoming Grants Co-Chairs  Maritia Walper and Sara Bennett

Past Grant Co-Chairs  Mara Buchholz and Nikki Carmody Ream

Membership Co-Chairs Cheryl Salmen and Melissa D’Amour

Finance Co-Chairs  Beth Terrana and Diane Solomon

Program Co-Chairs  Kirstjen Nielsen and Muffy Walker

Publicity Chair  Elia Surran

Social Chair  Kelly Stroud

Social Media Chair  Hazel Bentinck

Technology Chair  Mara Buchholz

Volunteer Co-Chairs  Ellie Cunningham and Amy Hobart

Members-at-Large — Cynthia Hudson, Donna Vance, Mary Consalvi, Sandra Coufal and Vivian Hardage

 A Letter from Our Board Chair

A person smiling at the camera Description automatically generatedLadies, 


Now that summer is coming to a close, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and continue to make a positive impact on our community.  I am proud to represent such an illustrious group of hard-working and generous women, and we have an exciting year ahead as we launch our 20th year of building friendships through philanthropy.  To date, the Women’s Fund has supported 154 different community projects with over $5.2 million dollars in grants, I commend you for a job well done!   


Our first general membership meeting, The Fall Kickoff from 5-7 pm on September 12th will be a wine and lite bites event held in a beautiful private home and will feature Dr. Ben Maxwell who will speak with us about our youth and their mental health. This is a terrific time to bring friends and neighbors to learn about our efforts and meet our membership.  


Annual contribution invoices will be going out shortly and I ask you to please remit your dues promptly.  The Grant Committees devote a large amount of time and energy to vetting the many organizations interested in our funding.  We can support their efforts by giving them early indications of the amount in our grant pool. If you are able to participate in the Above & Beyond Campaign, we are so grateful for the capacity to help even more organizations. Our application process opened August 1, and we already have some meaningful programs ready for the Grant Groups to review.   


We have some interesting speakers, a private pre-opening Steak 48 benefit dinner, a festive 20th Anniversary Celebration, and, of course, our Bubbles Celebration to look forward to this year. Please join us making our 20th Grant Cycle the most impactful ever.


                                             Gratefully, Nikki

Survey Says…

The Board is grateful for your direction! Our annual survey was answered by a good cross-section of membership. We feel confident we are on the right track regarding membership involvement and sustainability.

An impressive 98% of the respondents indicated one of their Primary Reasons for Joining the Women’s Fund was the Impact of Pooled/Combined giving, which supports our core mission. Other top reasons were Spending Time with and Meeting New Friends (85%) and the Ability to Learn More About San Diego/North County Non-profit Organizations (68.3%). We are indeed “Building Friendships through Philanthropy.”  

Favorite Speaker Event Topics were Health & Science (71%), Inspiring Leaders/Events (63.3%), and Current Events (60%). So, our Speakers’ Committee has included a talk on Youth Mental Health and one on Responses to Targeted Violence.

Regarding Outreach for both Current Members and Potential New Members, all four options (Social Events, Bring Potential New Members to Meetings, Pair Existing Members with New Members, and Create Volunteer Opportunities) received more than 55% of the votes.  In response, the Membership Committee will be holding neighborhood-specific, informational recruitment events, planning additional smaller Meet & Mingles, and working with the Social and Programs Chairs to schedule additional membership gatherings.  Additionally, Amy Hobart has joined the board as Philanthropic Co-Chair to solicit, plan and execute small group volunteer opportunities with our past grantees for our members.

Administratively, the results relating to How We Vote for Our Focus Areas were split 50/50 when asked whether to Remove Current Topics from Consideration or To Vote Every 2 Years, Staggering the Options) leaving our current method in place. In addition, 71% indicated they were Not in Favor of Paying an Additional Amount Upfront to Avoid Paying Separately for Membership Events.

Finally, when asked whether to Increase the Annual Minimum Contribution for the first time since 2010, 55% of Members indicated they would favor an increase to $2,500, and 11.7% indicated they would favor increasing it to $3,000 With our administrative and event costs increasing significantly over the last few years, we need to consider raising our minimum contribution to protect the sustainability of the Fund. This proper process will be further explored for implementation for the 2024-2025 Grant Cycle.

Spotlight on a Past Grantee

North Coast Repertory Theater received $15,000 from the RSF Women’s Fund in May, 2022. Their Theatre School offers classes, productions, and summer camps to approximately 2,000 North County students,

ages 4-19, annually. 100% of the requested $15,000 went towards their Theatre School Scholarship program, which waives the cost of class/camp tuition and production fees for students coming from marginalized backgrounds. The scholarships provide access to arts education that is not provided due to budgetary restraints in public schools or financial barriers at home. The initial goal for the project was to serve at least 25 students with the program, assuming an average scholarship cost of $200. 

This past year, mainly due to the grant received from the RSF Women’s Fund, NCRT was able to grow their scholarship program to the largest it has ever been. They awarded $30,737.75 in scholarships to 131 deserving students. Recipients were able to take advantage of any of the classes, camps, and productions that North Coast Theatre School offered. . [AND INCLUDE NEXT SENTENCE AS PART OF THIS PARAGRAPH]NCRT partners with several local organizations to increase the reach of their scholarship program, including Casa de Amistad, Bilingual Specialists at Solana Beach Public School District, and TERI, to name a few.

Based on feedback from the community liaison at the Solana Beach School District, the theater classes and camps at The North Coast Repertory Theatre have positively impacted the academic performance and the social skills of those students who have benefitted from a scholarship. Academically, parents have noticed improvements in English language skills and increased memorization, focus, and confidence. Socially, the students are more outgoing and confident when interacting with people after their participation in the camps.

They have a lot to be proud of, and we helped to make it happen!

To read more stories like this, please CLICK HERE to access the Our Impact section of our website.  By scrolling to the bottom of that page, you can read summaries of the Evaluation Reports submitted by our previous grantees.

Membership Renewal

The deadline for renewing your membership is September 15th. You should receive your renewal notice via email this week. 

Last year, because of YOUR collective contributions, we were able to give away $442,446, including over $41,000 raised though our Above & Beyond Campaign! That is an entire grant to one organization!! Please continue to support this collective grant making effort.  

With the launch of our new website last November, you are now able to renew your membership online.  To access the form, please click here and select the Returning Member option.  Here, you may make any changes to your profile information and will find instructions for the various payment options. If you choose to pay by check, we encourage you to bring your contribution to the September Kick-off Meeting on September 12th. 

For any New RSF Women‘s Fund Members who joined after March 31, 2023, your contribution will be applied to the 2023-24 Grant Cycle and no funds are currently due. Of course, we would love for you to consider additional Above & Beyond funding, if able. 

We hope you will renew today to ensure we continue to help those in our area who are less fortunate. 

Fall Kick-off Meeting

It’s that time of year again! A new Grant Season is about to begin. We have organizations who are busy completing our Letter of Intent forms in hopes of being considered for the 2023-24 Grant Cycle.  Please mark your calendars to join us for our Annual Fall Kick-off Meeting.

This year, we are so excited to have Dr. Benjamin Maxwell as our guest speaker.  He is the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at US San Diego and the Uma Davis Chair of Behavioral Health at Rady Children’s Hospital.  His topic will be “addressing Youth Mental Health”. You won’t want to miss this exciting talk! 

Holiday Bazaar

A white and green invitation with red and pink text

Description automatically generatedDid you know we have quite a few entrepreneurs amongst us? These talented and generous women are coming together on December 6th to provide us with an afternoon of shopping fun, and a percentage of sales will benefit our grant pool! Plan on getting your holiday shopping done while supporting our hard-working members. 

If you are interested in being a vendor at this event, please contact RSFWF Member Muffy Walker at


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, September 12th                  RSFWF Annual Kick-off Meeting
5:00-7:00 PM

Monday, September 18th                 Monday Grant Committee Meetings Begin. Committees will meet for 5 consecutive Mondays to
12:15-1:45 PM                                       review those organizations that applied under the Women’s Services Focus Area.  For more
                                                                information, contact Kathy Sage. Note: New time to accommodate school pick-up. 

Tuesday, September 19th                 Tuesday Grant Committee Meetings Begin.  Committees will meet for 5 consecutive Tuesdays to 
12:15-1:45                                             review those organizations that applied under the Social Services Focus Area. For more
                                                               information, contact Cathy Burch.  Note: New time to accommodate school pick-up.

October,                                                    Steak 48 Event
Date & Time TBD

October,                                                    Mix & Mingle Event
Date and Time TBD 

Wednesday, November 15th             RSFWF General Membership Meeting
11:30-1:30 PM                                       Location TBD

Wednesday, December 6th               Holiday Bazaar
11:00-2:00 PM                                      Come check those holiday gifts off your list while supporting businesses owned and operated by generous
                                                               RSFWF Members who will be donating a percentage of sales back to our Grant Pool!