The Women’s Opportunity Awards program is Soroptimist’s major project. Through the program, clubs in 19 countries and territories assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. Each year, more than $1.5 million is disbursed through cash awards at various levels of the organization. Recipients, many of whom have overcome enormous obstacles including poverty, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse, may use the awards to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education, such as books, childcare and transportation.
Eligible applicants must be women who provide the primary financial support for their families, and who are enrolled in or have been accepted to a vocational/skills training program or an undergraduate degree program. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Only residents of Soroptimist International of the Americas’ 19 member countries and territories are eligible to apply.
Since the Women’s Opportunity Awards program began in 1972, about $25 million has been disbursed to help tens of thousands of women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. In 2007, the Women’s Opportunity Awards received the Associations Advance America Summit Award—ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership’s highest level of recognition.
Named for the president of the first Soroptimist club, the Soroptimist Violet Richardson Award honors girls who are making a difference through volunteer service. Each year, Soroptimist clubs honor girls who donate their time and energy to causes that make the community and world a better place—such as working to end discrimination and poverty, assisting women and children who are victims of domestic violence, or mentoring young girls.
The program begins on the Soroptimist club level, with club recipients becoming eligible for additional awards at other levels of the organization. One winner is chosen to receive a finalist award, which includes a contribution of $2,500 to the charitable organization of the recipient’s choice.