Women’s Legacy Circle with Carle Center for Philanthropy


Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

In 2009, Carle Center for Philanthropy created the Women’s Legacy Circle, which gives women the opportunity to combine their resources to fund and expand extraordinary healthcare services at Carle.

Today we are going to learn about a philanthropic group of women who support Carle through charitable donations to fund extraordinary healthcare projects and services. Most recently, the group provided its largest single grant in support of Community Health Initiatives. Welcome to Meredith Mills, former chair of the Carle Women’s Legacy Circle, and Kathy Aquino, chair-elect of the Carle Women’s Legacy Circle.

Can you tell us about the mission of the Women’s Legacy Circle and its origin?

  • Started in 2009 when a group of community women came together to inspire, educate and empower women who want to make a difference and change lives.
  • To offer women a unique opportunity to combine their resources to fund and expand extraordinary healthcare services at Carle.
  • Today there are about 200 members

Where does WLC gets it funding?

Each member donates $500 annually to support grants to Carle. The funds provided by each member are pooled together to allow greater impact than one member could make alone. All members have an equal opportunity to vote on which grants are awarded each year and we play an active role in selecting important initiatives that will have a significant impact at Carle and in our community.

How much are grants usually and what types of donations have been provided?

The maximum grant to a specific project is $12,000 and the WLC has provided more than 100 grants since it began. The annual donations have increased from $35,000 in 2010 to more than $86,000 in 2020.

I understand the group provided its largest single donation ever. Can you share what that is and how it will benefit the communities Carle serves?

For the last several years, the giving circle set aside small amounts of the donations enabling the group to provide its largest single donation – $75,000 – to support the Community Health Initiatives program at Carle. Community Health Initiatives works with community partners to help children and their families have the healthiest lives possible regardless of life circumstances. You may have seen the mobile clinic or the mobile market in the area and those are examples of the work being done through the Community Health Initiatives program.

The $75,000 was used to purchase a new transport van and eight 10-foot-by-10-foot tents to support a wide range of activities such as health screenings, vaccination clinics, health fairs and other community events.
o Tents may be used individually or connected together to add space needed for events.
o Tents can be converted to exam rooms that include heating/cooling units, portable treatment tables, stools, basic equipment and hand-washing station.
o The support vehicle is used to transport and distribute seasonal items such as clothing, books, school supplies, food boxes and more.
o The support vehicle also may be used by itself for various events and tasks.

Why did the members believe the $75,000 donation was the best way to use the funds?

  • The donation helps Carle to meets its mission and helps us be in our communities providing assistance where needed.
  • It was important for us to be active in the community and help our frontline workers during this pandemic year. We are pleased to be able to support the work of Carle since the WLC was formed in 2009.

We are pleased we could move forward with our work during the pandemic year.

How do women join the Women’s Legacy Circle?

Any women interested in learning more about the Women’s Legacy Circle may send an email to WLC@carle.com or call 217-383-3021.

Members are encouraged to attend as many events as possible, but it isn’t a requirement of being a member. The grants proposal and voting event is very rewarding and exciting. We also sponsor an annual keynote address by a local influential woman with our Women to Know event. This year, on April 27, Justice Rita Garman will be present virtually to share her thoughts on the importance of having a personal mentor in your life.

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