President's Message

Simplify in Order to Amplify  

This is an unprecedented year for the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund! In support of our theme of elevation, SOS analyzed the results from our recent member survey and conducted a grantee focus group – both of which were intended to help us understand what we are doing right and where we might make improvements. After reviewing the results of both, the SOS Board of Directors discussed solutions that would address the top action items and we are in the process of seeking member input, with a final Board vote in November, on these proposed changes:  

Adopting a two-year grant cycle – Moving from a one-year to a two-year grant cycle will address the top priorities and concerns of both our members and grantees.

Shortening our granting cycle – Grantees have told us that the time between submitting Letters of Inquiry in September to getting a check the following May is too long, and the timeframe makes it difficult for them to budget appropriately. By streamlining parts of our process, we believe we can shorten our grant cycle. And by moving the cycle to a more favorable time of year – May to November – we can better align our grants with the calendar-based fiscal year of most non-profits.

Enhancing grantee and community engagement – In order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, we purposely limit interactions with any non-profits seeking funding during an active grant cycle. With the change to a two-year and shorter grant cycle, we greatly expand the time we will be able to engage with our grantees and deepen our community involvement.

These changes represent a significant new step as we work to keep SOS vital, relevant and responsive to our members, grantees and the community at large. My sincere appreciation and admiration go to all those involved who had a hand in the extensive research, analysis, discussion and decision-making. Your efforts have elevated our future and I couldn’t be more excited for the work ahead!

For more information about the changes described above, please read this comprehensive Q&A

Questions or input? Please feel free to reach out to me or one of our Board members, or email your questions or comments to The Board will be voting on these proposed changes at our November 21 meeting.

Ally Melvin
SOS President

By the Numbers: Check Out Our 2022-2023 Dashboard

Over the past year, through the generosity of our dedicated members, we continued our mission to engage in informed collective giving and grant making. View our 2022-2023 dashboard to see how we are supporting the work of vital nonprofits to make positive changes in our communities.

View Dashboard

Holocaust Museum Tour and Discussion

Sunday, Nov. 12, 12:30-4:30 pm

Join us for this special four-hour visit to the St Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, which begins with an insightful 90-minute museum tour followed by the Impact Lab experience and group discussion. This experience seeks to empower visitors to explore the complexities of genocide, hate crimes, and prejudice from perspectives of both historical and contemporary moments so as to become better equipped to help create a more compassionate world.

This event is for members only due to the limited number of participants. Advance registration with prepayment is required. Learn more and register here.

Why We Give:
St. Louis HELP

Imagine coming home from the hospital and needing a basic piece of home health equipment such as a wheelchair or walker to continue your recovery. For many people, access to this equipment is mired in red tape, including delays or denials by insurers and high rental costs or co-pays.

For 15 years, St. Louis Health Equipment Lending Program – known as STL HELP – has filled this need. STL HELP provides free recycled medical equipment to anyone in need, quickly and easily. This kind of access is so important, says one of their board members, because “any day in recovery that you aren’t moving, you’re losing.”

View Full Story

Meet the Board: Sarah Woodburn, Membership Chair

When asked how she came to join SOS in 2019, Sarah Woodburn is quick to reply. “It was 100% because of a fantastic article I read about SOS in the Post Dispatch,” she says. “I didn’t know a soul, but I clicked on the green ‘Join’ button and never looked back.”

A Metro East native who started her finance career at the St. Louis Fed, Sarah spent most of her adult life in Chicago, where she worked for Fortune 500 companies, raised three daughters, provided support to aging parents, and became a community volunteer.

“I loved co-chairing a committee on the North Shore that funded Chicago area non-profits, so when my husband and I moved back to St. Louis, SOS was a great fit,” she says. She especially enjoys sharing her SOS experience with her adult daughters. “We each study the ballot, discuss, and cast a group vote, so it has been a great way to teach them the art and science of philanthropy.”

Sarah initially supported SOS’s grant process, helping to review Letters of Inquiry and serving on site visit teams. As part of the Membership Committee, she served a term as Vice Chair before becoming Chair this past July. Besides their focus on attracting and retaining members, in the coming year the committee will help to support the proposed change to a two-year grant cycle by creating new ways to strengthen member relations and community connections.

“Sarah’s connection to the community along with her vast knowledge of the non-profit world makes her an excellent person to lead Membership during this expected transition,” says Ally Melvin, SOS president and past Membership chair. “She’s committed to our members’ experience as we engage in philanthropy together.”

In addition to her SOS involvement, Sarah volunteers with the International Mentoring Program and is currently looking for her next professional adventure.

Having joined SOS in a somewhat unconventional way, Sarah is eager to encourage others to consider membership. “It’s a welcoming organization that does such good work, and there are so many ways to be involved,” she says. “I’m really glad I clicked that green button.”  

Interested in Becoming a Member?

You’d be joining more than 200 like-minded women in our efforts to build a stronger community. Your level of involvement is up to you, and might include volunteering for non-profit organizations funded by SOS, educational and networking events, and serving on a committee or as part of a grant review or site visit team. Depending on your time and availability, you also might choose to simply be part of our funding efforts. Find out more about membership here.

Were You There?

Fall Kick-Off Event

More than 50 SOS members gathered at Delmar Divine on Sept. 26 for a networking and educational event. The program featured three leaders from our 2023 group of grantees: Patrice Shumate, board member, Books for Newborns; Katie Houck, executive director, Urban Harvest STL; and LaKricia Cox, executive director, Girls in the Know. The panel discussion provided a thoughtful and fascinating look at how these organizations are contributing individually and collaboratively to creating positive childhood outcomes from birth through adolescence.

Pop-Up Social

A big hand to SOS member Crista Carr-Shatz, who hosted a “pop-up” social event at her home on July 27. The no-agenda outing was the perfect place for members to catch up during the heat of summer.

Volunteering at Eye Thrive

Thanks to SOS members who volunteered at Eye Thrive, one of our grantees, on August 21. The group sorted and cleaned more than 1,000 eyeglass frames for use onboard the mobile vision clinic bus.

Read more about Eye Thrive

Volunteering at Welcome Neighbor

Thanks to several SOS members who helped with a volunteer event at one of our new grantees, Welcome Neighbor, on Sept. 6. The group helped prepare a newsletter mailing.

Read more about Welcome Neighbor

Meet Up at the Fall Mixer

SOS members and their guests are invited to a Fall Mixer at the home of Joan Gallagher on Thursday, October 26, at 5 p.m. Grab a friend and spend an evening getting better acquainted with other SOS members! See details and register here.

SOS Grantee Featured in Ladue News

Saint Louis Story Stitchers, past recipient of a three-year grant from SOS, is featured in the August 4 of the Ladue News. The article focuses on the organization’s new headquarters, The Center, at Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s Grandel Square facility.

Welcome, New Members

Please welcome these recent new members to SOS.

Marian Dorna

Amy Eidelman

Marilyn Miles

Renai Lowry

Roberta Shapiro

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