A new grant, with a goal of ensuring women who want to enter or advance in the finance industry succeed, has been made available by the Lucy Shair Foundation for Women in Finance. The $5,000 grant is meant to cover expenses such as office space, licensure, and continuing education.
The foundation is now accepting applications for the grant, with a submission deadline of October 15, 2022. The grant will be awarded by the end of the year, and then annually in subsequent years.
"Only 31% of financial advisors are women, and even fewer are women-owned and operated," said Corrie Puscas, Lucy Shair Foundation president. "By supporting financial advisors who are launching their own firms, the Lucy Shair Foundation (LSF) is providing crucial backing for women who can and will support other women in the future."
Lucy Shair, 43, of Grand Rapids, was a financial advisor who passed away on January 6, 2021 from a recurrence of breast cancer. Following her initial diagnosis and treatment through 2016, Shair entered remission and shifted her professional interests. She had a unique and unwavering passion for empowering others, especially women, and harnessed that passion into financial advising.
In 2018, Shair founded her own firm and prioritized the philosophy that financial knowledge leads to financial wellbeing. She worked to not only advise her clients but also educate and empower them to take charge of their financial futures. Shair's friends established the foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in June 2021 to ensure her passion for empowering women continues.
Applicants are asked to share their story, business vision and detailed discussion of how they will use the grant. The foundation's five founding board members—Puscas, Ellen Cherveny, Anne Petruzzi, Amber Brooks and Alisa Devlaeminck—will choose the grant recipient.
The grant is designed to offset expenses that pose barriers to entry or advancement, such as costs associated with business development opportunities, licensure, office space, professional fees and memberships, professional conferences and training, and other continuing education. Applicants do not need to currently be a certified financial advisor, but must have the active intent to work in the financial advising industry.
"We are looking for women who are dreaming boldly, pursuing their passion and making a difference in their communities," said Petruzzi, LSF secretary.
Memorial donations and a fundraising event raised over $65,000 last year, far surpassing the foundation's $35,000 goal. The board selected San Francisco-based Fairlight Advisors, an independent registered investment advisory organization certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), to invest a sizable portion of the funds raised.
Fairlight Advisors co-founders, Katharine Earhart and Maya Tussing, launched their investment advisory business to help nonprofit leaders fulfill their mission with high-touch, customized nonprofit financial planning and investment management.
"While many companies have recruiting strategies to attract female advisors, few organizations support women financially in launching their own businesses, which is why we are proud to partner with the Lucy Shair Foundation," said Earhart.
"The first 2-years are a critical time for new advisors and many women can use additional capital investment to accelerate their success," Tussing added.
"The Lucy Shair Foundation is filling a huge void in the financial planning profession," said Stephanie Traxler, founding CEO and financial advisor of Grand Rapids-based Golden Goose Wealth Planning, LLC. "Being a woman who started her own firm, it is an immense risk to start from ground zero. Grants from the LSF will help infuse capital at a critical time and allow more women to take the leap."
Linda Brunzell, chief marketing officer at Terryberry, a global employee recognition company, has been consulting with the working board.
"Lucy moved boldly in the world and left behind many women whose lives she touched both personally and professionally," Brunzell said. "I've had the privilege to work with the five founding board members to help them dream boldly and guide building the nonprofit's strategy and goals. Each individual is truly committed to continuing Lucy's work of empowering women in the financial profession."
Learn more about the Lucy Shair Foundation and applying for the grant by clicking here.
Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.