Chapel Hill nonprofit works to fight sexual assault

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One in five women in the U.S. has been sexually assaulted or raped.

Yet, despite educational programs at their schools to promote safety and reduce sexual abuse, nearly 80 percent of students in all three high schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools say they do not know whether someone either in their school or the school district is responsible for handling complaints of sexual harassment or assault.

And 69 percent of students want more information at school on the issue, while 40 percent are not confident their teachers would know what to do if students disclosed harassment or assault, according to research by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in partnership with the School of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We know that sexual violence unfortunately happens quite frequently, yet most people don’t report sexual assault because of its stigma and the fear of victim-blaming,” says Alyson Culin, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center, which works to stop sexual violence by providing support, education and advocacy.

In recent years, however, in the face of a widening rash of news reports of sexual-assault accusations leveled against political and business leaders and other celebrities, public awareness of the problem is growing, Culin says.

In the past seven years, the Rape Crisis Center has seen a near doubling of clients, she says.

“Our role is simply to provide support, however, it is needed,” she says. “We start by believing and listening. Then, we can help you figure out which options, if any, you may want to pursue.”

Formed in 1974 and operating with an annual budget of $950,000, a staff of 12 full-time and four part-time employees, and 60 to 75 volunteers, the Rape Crisis Center hosts a 24-hour helpline, support groups, workshops, and therapy referrals.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, the Center served 676 clients, mainly through its helpline and follow-up support, and served 75 clients through 22 support groups and workshops.

It also reached nearly 17,000 individuals with over 1,000 safety-education and violence-prevention programs.

It offers free programs in all 17 elementary schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools, to seventh graders in all four Chapel Hill-Carrboro middle schools and all three Orange County middle schools, and to ninth graders in all three Chapel Hill-Carrboro high schools and one of the two Orange County high schools.

And, for a small fee, its offers programs in two elementary schools in the Durham Public Schools, and in a handful of independent schools in the Triangle.

In addition to its traditional support-group programs, which typically are organized around specific types of experiences of clients, such as survivors of sexual assault, or adult survivors of child abuse, the Rape Crisis Center in recent years has begun offering support groups around an activity, such as running, dance, yoga or arts and crafts.

“While some prefer traditional discussion settings, others can find it intimidating to talk with strangers about a very personal experience,” she says. “Many participants have felt more comfortable approaching the subject through an activity first.”

The activities are structured for self-reflection and to develop skills for coping with trauma, she says.

And with multi-year grants of $200,000 each from the Governor’s Crime Commission and the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, the Rape Crisis Center this month is launching an in-house therapy program with two therapists, one of them bilingual.

“Affordable trauma-informed therapy from an experienced provider — especially one who speaks Spanish — is very difficult to find, yet in extremely high demand,” she says.

The Center generates about half its annual income from state and federal grants, another fourth from private grants, United Way and local government, and the remainder from individual contributions and special events, including a holiday auction on December 3 at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel.

It also has raised about $500,000 to expand its programs in the silent phase of a campaign that began early this year and aims to raise another $1 million to buy a larger office adjacent to its current leased space.

“We need a larger space to accommodate more clients and a growing staff,” Culin says. “Of course, the ultimate goal is to stop sexual violence. We aim to support and empower survivors in their own healing process, and we also want to provide our community with knowledge and skills around preventing and responding to violence.”

Kay Yow Cancer Fund plays for life

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Since 2012, over 22,000 women in 17 North Carolina counties who otherwise would not have the opportunity have been screened for breast cancer, thanks to two mobile mammography units from UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh.

Financing the digital-imaging equipment for the units — at a cost of $115,000 each — has been the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

The Raleigh charity was founded in December 2007 by the late Kay Yow, who was head women’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University and died in 2009 after a 22-year intermittent battle with cancer.

Inspiring her to start the charity was a game, initially known as “Hoops 4 Hope,” that her team at N.C. State played on Feb. 19, 2006, with the University of Maryland.

Since then, mainly through games throughout the U.S. that later were known as “Think Pink,” then “Pink Zone,” and now “Play4Kay,” the Kay Yow Cancer Fund has raised $5.38 million and awarded grants of $1 million each to support research into cancers affecting women at four cancer centers, including UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill.

It also has made grants of $100,000 each to cancer centers in nine cities that have hosted the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament. And it works to serve underserved women by funding programs such as the UNC Rex mammography units.

The charity “was born through the sport of basketball,” says Stephanie Glance, the Fund’s executive director and former associate head coach at N.C. State under Yow. “She saw this as a way to unite coaches, players and communities of women’s basketball.”

Operating with an annual budget of about $600,000 and a staff of five full-time employees, the Fund raises $1 million to $1.5 million a year.

That includes $350,000 to $400,000 generated through 200 to 250 basketball games hosted by teams at colleges and schools throughout the U.S.

It also receives royalties from Nike’s retail sale of apparel and shoes branded with the the Kay Yow Fund’s “Y” logo, and generates revenue from a golf tournament, which will be held in September for the third straight year in Pinehurst, that last year netted $200,000.

And it gets revenue from events that third-parties organize, and in February hosted an inaugural run and walk on the N.C. State campus that netted $20,000.

Through a partnership, the scientific advisory committee at the V Foundation — which also raises money for cancer research and is named for Jim Valvano, the late coach of the N.C. State men’s basketball team — reviews and evaluates grant requests to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, then monitors grants the Fund approves.

And through another partnership, the Fund is the “charity of choice” of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, which encourages its members to support the Fund through an annual game on the schedule of each of their teams.

Now, as it prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary this December with a dinner, the Fund is planning to launch a 10 for 10″ campaign to raise $10,000 each from at least 50 donors. It also plans to create a local golf tournament in Raleigh.

And it aims to generate more revenue from its Play4Kay games, either by increasing the number of games each year to 350 or more, or by increasing the share of revenue it receives from each game.

To help do all that, Glance this spring is visiting nearly 20 Division I conference meetings.

The goal, she says, is to fund more research and provide more underserved women with access to cancer services.

“Every person has  been touched by cancer in some way,” she says. “The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is making a significant impact in the fight against all women’s cancers.”

Research tracks gender differences in giving

Differences in income among women and men shape overall giving by couples, as well as the causes they support, new research says.

An increase in a man’s income, for example, tends to make it more likely a couple will give to religious, youth, international and combined-purpose groups such as United Way, or give larger amounts to those causes, or both, says research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

An increase in a woman’s income makes it more likely a couple will give, and give a larger amount, to charities that provide for basic human needs, the research says.

The research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, included a review of interdisciplinary literature on women’s giving and philanthropic behavior.

It also included analysis of data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy, and Million Dollar List. Among the findings:

Marital status

* Single women are more likely than single men to give, and to give higher dollar amounts.

* Women who are divorced, separated, never married or widowed are more likely to give and to give higher dollar amounts than their male counterparts and among men overall.

* Single women are more likely than single men to give to nearly every charitable sector, except sports and recreation.

* Married couples tend to give more than single households headed by males or females.

* When men marry, they are more likely to give to charity and to give higher amounts.

Charitable decision-making

* Most married couples decide on charitable giving jointly.

* Households in which the male makes decisions on charitable giving make larger donations than couples in which those decisions are made by the female or jointly.

* For couples with one person making decisions on giving, the decision-making spouse is likely to have had more education, while in couples that make those decisions together, both individuals have high educational attainment.

Volunteering and giving circles

* Women are more likely than men to volunteer, and to volunteer more hours, with single women volunteering at nearly twice the rate of single men.

* Women represent the vast majority of participants in giving circles, more than half of giving circles in the U.S. involve only women, and issues that affect women and girls are the priority for many giving circles.

* Less than 10 percent of all foundation funding supports organizations run by and for women and girls.

Selecting charitable causes

* Women tend to spread their giving across more organizations, while men tend to concentrate their giving.

* Among high net worth individuals — those with $250,000 or more in income, or $1 million or more in assets not including their principal residence, or both — single women are more likely than single men to give, and give more to arts and the environment, while high net worth single men are more likely to give, and give more to combination organizations such as United Way.

* “Female-deciding” households are more likely to give to youth and family, health and international causes, while “male-deciding” households are more likely to give to religion, education and other causes.

* High net worth female-deciding households are more likely to give to youth and family services and religious causes, while male-deciding households are less likely to give to basic-needs organizations, and give lower amounts to those organizations.

* Single women spread out their giving more than do single men, although high net worth single women and men are similar in the concentration of their giving.

* Single women are more likely than single men to make women’s rights a priority, and less likely to make the economy and veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to couples that are “joint deciders,” a couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the arts a priority as a social issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make animal welfare a priority and less likely to make veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to joint deciders, a high net worth couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the economy a key issue and less likely to make poverty a key issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make human rights a priority.

Motivations for giving

* Single women are more likely than single men to cite their political or philosophical beliefs, and serving on a board or volunteering, as motivations for giving.

* In couples with the wife as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is more likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by spontaneously responding to a need, believing their gift makes a difference, and as a result of their political and philosophical beliefs, and less likely to be motivated by religious beliefs.

* In couples with the husband as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is less likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by setting an example for future generations, religious beliefs and the personal satisfaction of giving.

* For million-dollar donors’ gifts, individual women tend to mention “scholarship and “student” more than men do, reflecting a focus on the people their philanthropy can affect.

* Women are the only type of donor to have the term “unrestricted” appear in their top keywords.

* As women’s income rises, they become more likely than their male counterparts to give to charity.

Giving to secular and religious causes

* For the top 60 percent of income earners, women are more likely than their male counterparts to give to secular causes, and to give more.

* Millennial, Boomer and older women are more likely than their male counterparts to give in general and to secular causes.

* High net worth single women and single men do not differ significantly in their incidence of giving or the amount they give, either in total giving or in giving to religious or secular causes.

* A married person is more likely to give and to give more than a person who is not married.

* Single females are most likely to give to secular causes, and give more than do single men, married men and married women.

* Among high net worth households, being married does not increase the likelihood of giving, although married couples tend to give higher amounts overall and to secular causes than do single men and women.

* For giving to religious causes, households in which the husband is the sole decision-maker on giving are most likely to give.

* Compared to joint deciders, households in which the wife is the sole decision-maker on giving, and those with separate deciders, give less to to religious causes.

* Female-deciding households and and joint-deciding households are more likely to give to secular causes.

* Compared to joint-deciding households, only households in which men and women make giving decisions separately are statistically more likely to give higher amounts to secular causes.

* When either a wife or husband is a sole decision-maker, the amount of giving for religious purposes is lower than in jointly-deciding households.

Donors’ income and education levels

* A households in which the husband has unearned income from trusts or investments is significantly more likely to give to charity, while a household in which the wife has unearned income has no significant impact on whether the household will give to charity.

* An increase in men’s income tends to increase the likelihood and amount of giving to nearly every charitable subsector, while an increase in women’s income tends to increase the likelihood of giving to education, the environment, and organizations that address basic needs.

* The respective income of a husband or wife does not affect whether high income households give.

* The income of a high net worth husband is related to the amount of giving from the household, both overall and to secular giving.

* Education within a household generally does not affect the incidence or amount of giving for either the general population or high net worth households.

Todd Cohen

C Foundation works to assist breast-cancer survivors

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In October 2012, during a 10-month period when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Christie Lee of Greensboro attended Pink in the Park, an event to raise awareness of breast cancer that was sponsored by The Breast Center of Greensboro Imaging.

At the event, visiting a vendor table for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nonprofit that works to fight breast cancer, she was invited to apply to be Komen’s Face of Breast Cancer for Guilford County.

She was selected for 2013, and in that role began to receive product donations from companies. So in May 2013, she formed the C Foundation, which provides donated products, financial assistance, discussion groups and information for breast-cancer survivors.

In the past two years, the Foundation has received donations worth $15,000 to $20,000 from over 30 vendors and served at least 3,000 patients, says Lee, who is senior technical team lead at AT&T and works on a volunteer basis as founder and director of operations for the Foundation.

“We are trying to eradicate the financial responsibility” to pay for medical costs, daily living and needs such as prostheses, she says.

The C Foundation has landed two official product sponsors, including K-Y and Priscilla McCall’s, and provides patients with donated products ranging from those related to female libido to makeup, footwear, exercise apparel and books.

The Foundation, which counts on 10 volunteers plus Lee, also sponsors Let’s Talk, a bimonthly forum that meets at Greensboro restaurants, beauty spas, community centers and hotels, and typically attracts 20 to 30 people.

“We discuss common side effects that are being experienced by most of the survivors,” Lee says. “We then give them products to help assist.”

The next forum, which will focus on skin and hair care, is scheduled for June 20 at the Double Tree on High Point Road.

C Foundation is expanding beyond North Carolina, and has begun introducing itself in Virginia and in New Orleans, says Lee, who devotes about 15 hours a week, during the evening, to the charity.

It will hold a fundraising events in October at a restaurant in Alexandria, Va., and in November at the same jewelry store in Woodbridge, Va., where it held an event last year that raised $1,000.

And in April, Lee and two other volunteers visited New Orleans to talk to breast-cancer centers and to vendors.

She also hopes to begin working with hospitals that have treatment centers for breast cancer, along with support groups for patients and survivors.

Lee, whose treatment included chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiation, and ended in December 2012, says she now is considered cancer-free.

“The experiences from one survivor to another are unique,” Lee says. “We aim to ensure that we broadly help all those involved.”

Girls on the Run running faster

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Juliellen Simpson-Vos did not start running until after college, and while she is not fast, she “can put in the miles, go the distance,” she says, and has learned through training for several marathons that “you have to have multiple strategies to approach the challenge, but can be successful, which isn’t measured by winning but by how you approach it.”

That philosophy helps drive Girls on the Run of the Triangle, a Durham nonprofit Simpson-Vos heads that uses physical activity and running as tools to help girls throughout the region build character and courage.

“Our society is constantly hurling new facts, new ideas, new concepts, new challenges, and our girls need to be able to have a resource and a core they can go back to so they have an approach to handling it and feel confident in addressing it, with support systems, and understand why they approach it the way they do,” she says.

Founded in 2000, the nonprofit is an independent council of Girls on the Run International, which grew out of a nonprofit formed in Charlotte in 1996.

Counting on over 55,000 volunteers, Girls on the Run programs now serve over 130,000 girls in more than 200 cities in North America each year.

Girls on the Run of the Triangle operates with an annual budget of $450,000, a staff of three full-time and three part-time employees, and roughly 600 volunteers, and will serve 1,600 girls in grades three through five this year, three times the total it served four years ago.

Two-thirds of the girls are from Wake County and the others are split roughly evenly between Durham and Orange counties.

Girls participate in a 24-course program offered over 12 weeks in the fall and again in the spring, and hosted at public and private schools, after-school youth programs, and churches. Each program culminates with a 5K event.

While girls train for the 5K, they also learn about and practice strategies and skills such as goal-setting, communication and teamwork to build their confidence and self-esteem and address problems such as conflicts, bullying and peer pressure.

A group of four girls might be given a scenario, for example, in which a boy seated behind them in class is copying their work. Each girl then would be asked, while running a lap, to compose a phrase to respond to the boy. On completing the lap, the girls would share their responses, and then would be given a new scenario for their next lap.

“They’re thinking and doing something while running,” Simpson-Vos says.

Girls on the Run generates 65 percent of its revenue through fees and the rest through contributions. Participation in the 12-week program costs $200, and one-third of the girls receive a scholarship. Top sponsors include Quintiles and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

The nonprofit aims to be serving nearly 2,200 girls a year in 2017, and to expand the program to include older girls and women, beginning with a pilot this fall that will add one middle school each in Wake, Durham and Orange counties, and adding another 10 to 12 middle schools the following spring.

Eventually, Girls on the Run will expand to include high-school girls as “junior coaches,” more college girls as coaches, as well as mothers who serve as coaches or encourage their daughters to participate.’

“The idea is to provide programming that serves the entire life cycle of a girl and a continuum of these ideas and values,” Simpson-Vos says.

“The thing we’re doing is building strong, courageous girls,” she says. “Having the ability to understand who you are and what you’re made of and what your values are is the foundation for courage.”

Center serves victims of domestic and sexual violence

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Every year, over 157,000 adult North Carolinians are victims of domestic violence, costing the state nearly $307.9 million, or $32.26 per resident, excluding the cost of emergency shelters, according to a study last year at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Helping to address the needs of women and children in Durham County who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault is the Durham Crisis Response Center, which focuses on advocacy, education, prevention and support.

The Center, which was created in February 2001 through the merger of Rape Crisis of Durham and the Orange-Durham Coalition for Battered Women, has served over 20,000 women and children, including 237 women and children who stayed at its 18-bed shelter and another 3,800 who called its crisis line.

“There’s no wrong door where a victim can come to us,” says Aurelia Sands-Bell, the Center’s executive director.

Since she joined the Center in July 2006, its annual operating budget has doubled to just over $1 million, it has trained its staff of 8 full-time and 12 part-time employees, and its volunteers, to handle clients with a range of needs, languages and cultural backgrounds, and it has expanded its services and its collaboration with partner agencies.

In addition to its shelter and 24-hour, confidential crisis line, services include accompanying clients to the hospital and court; legal clinics with local lawyers; support groups; counseling; and referrals for job training, housing, child care, and other community services.

The Center also offers workshops and training for service providers, churches, schools, police, hospitals, civic groups and other community members.

The Center has added Spanish-speaking staff to field calls on its crisis line; expanded its counseling for individuals and groups; added legal advocates and a sexual assault investigator; and is working more collaboratively with law-enforcement and criminal-justice officials, schools, and the Durham County departments of public health and social services.

Law-enforcement officials and Duke Medical Center have been strong partners of the Center, she says.

It also is partnering with schools, faith-based communities and youth organizations to provide a six-to-eight-week pilot program to help 80 students in middle school and high school see the link between alcohol and sexual violence.

The Center counts on government and United Way grants for half its funds; contributions for 20 percent; events, including a spring golf classic, for 10 percent; and a thrift store at 2715 Chapel Hill Blvd. for 20 percent.

One of every four women in the U.S. is the victim of violence at the hands of an intimate partner during her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the number of clients the Center serves has increased by roughly 25 percent since she joined the organization, Sands-Bell says.

The Center is in the planning phase of an effort to expand its shelter.

Sexual violence is “far more widespread than people want to think or believe” and is tied to other community problems, she says. Many women are homeless, for example, as a result of domestic or sexual violence, she says.

More victims are seeking assistance from the Center and other agencies because of increased awareness about the problem of domestic and sexual violence and a greater sense of “being believed and knowing they can get help,” she says.

It also is important to “have honest conversations with our young people about sexual assault and violence and really address the impact of violence on the lives of children,” Sands-Bell says.

Yet it can be tough for communities to talk about domestic or sexual violence or support efforts to address the needs of victims because the issue is “taboo” for many people, with victims often feeling a “sense of shame, of not being believed,” and perpetrators not wanting to “own up to this problem,” Sands-Bell says.

“We have to look at domestic violence and sexual assault as a community issue, a societal issue,” she says, “not simply as a women’s issue.”