There is a movement of radical generosity building in South Florida and it’s being led by women. By pooling their resources together, women have found they can make a greater impact in meeting the needs of our community, and they’re doing it through a giving circle called StrikeForce421.
StrikeForce421 was founded by a group of four women as part of a larger generosity movement happening in the South Florida community. JoAnne Daudt, Esq. and former NCF South Florida Relationship Manager, is the President of StrikeForce 421 and invited the others to form the organization. It is now 300 women strong and collectively, they have given away more than half a million dollars in grants to 14 local charities. These include Urban Youth Impact, South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary, Inc., Living Water Christian Counseling Center, Hope Women’s Centers, Ema Ministries, Caring For Miami, Heart2Heart Senior Outreach of South Florida, Taylor’s Closet, First Care Women’s Clinic, Live the Life South Florida, Renew South Florida, Firewall Centers, Trees of Hope and The Well of Sychar.
Each woman contributes $1000 or more a year as a pledge partner then all of the funds are pooled together and given away each year to ministries that proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as part of what they do. Their objective is to promote radical, life-changing generosity that gives joy to both the giver and the receiver while operating costs are covered by the board of directors.
This has great impact on the life of a ministry, noted Board Member Emily Kreisel. “Most people will just give $100 bucks here and $100 bucks there, but when you pull together larger donations that has a big impact on a ministry,” she said.
The other impact has been on the women personally, added Board Member Laurie Farquhar. “They are experiencing the joy of giving in a whole new way and many times it’s not just their $1000 or more, it’s their heart, it’s their hands. They’re volunteering at the ministry and it’s transformed their lives as well as the ministries they’re benefitting,” said Farquhar. “There’s also a sense of community. Women like to give together.”
Creating that sense of community, StrikeForce421 holds two major events a year. “We showcase semi-finalist ministries in the fall and in the spring is our celebration event where we give all the money away,” said Daudt.
Nonprofits seeking funding complete a rigorous review process, which includes submission of an online application in which they supply their bylaws, board, 501C(3), tax returns, operating budget and projected budget along with what they are seeking the grant for. Applicants are interviewed by the Board and “after much prayer and asking for the Lord’s direction,” semi-finalists are introduced to the Strikeforce421 women and their guests during a showcase breakfast. In the months that follow, the board and pledge partners, conduct site visits to each of the charities to get a better understanding of their needs and what they do. Pledge partners who attend can complete a survey to give their feedback. “And we really take a hard look at those surveys because we want to go by what our women want,” said Daudt.
The finalists are selected by the board and announced at their spring celebration where every penny of the money collected by StrikeForce421 is given away, and the results are astounding! When selecting grant recipients, Farquhar said, “Our heart is to take the ministry to a new level. Their objectives have to be definable, measurable and they have to make an impact.”
Linda Giambattista, executive director of Taylor’s Closet, received a grant in 2016 that helped create a very innovative way to move their ministry from a clothing store to a mobile store. “When God presented the idea of buying a bus and making it into a mobile store, the biggest challenge was the cost to purchase an old bus and renovate it. StrikeForce421’s grant made that possible. Now the Bloom Bus drives up on the high school campus where girls who participate in our afterschool Bloom program can shop for free. We went from seeing 125 girls a month to seeing 200 girls at Fort Lauderdale High School, and we are now beginning with Piper High School and Stranahan High School in 2021,” Gaimbattista said.
Live the Life, a ministry that strengthens marriages and families, received a $19,000 grant that helped them bring their REAL Essentials student program into more schools. Originally operating in one high school, they now reach teens in 27 schools, teaching biblically-based concepts on relationships and family. They were also able to hire a marriage director with a gift received at the last StrikeForce421 breakfast. In addition to the funding, Lisa May, executive director, said, “Receiving a grant from StrikeForce421 was a public endorsement and allowed us to stand on their shoulders.”
Trees of Hope, a ministry that provides healing from sexual abuse and prevention, was operated by volunteers when they received one of the first StrikeForce421 grants of $49,000 in 2014. “The grant really put us on the map and spotlighted sexual abuse,” said Dee Proietto, Trees of Hope founder. “People never really realized the epidemic: one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday and usually for girls it starts before age 7. It was a great benefit that we were able to even tell the audience who we are and what we do. That alone brought people to us and then, honestly, I think the money lasted us more than a year, so we really could fast forward and start writing our own curriculum, get girls groups and do more things… I am a huge fan of strikeForce421.”
According to a study published by Women Doing Well, an organization that helps women find their purpose and passion, women now own over 50 percent of the investment wealth in the United States and control over 80 percent of home purchasing decisions.
By giving together, women can substantially impact their communities and new giving circles are springing up all over the country including locally in Miami and West Palm Beach, according to Farquhar.
On April 24th, StrikeForce 421 will celebrate its sixth year of radical giving by giving away 100% of the funds collected to one or more of the following well-vetted Grant Semi-finalist ministries:
- 4KIDS of South Florida serves children and young adults rescued from abuse, abandonment and neglect. Grant request: $36,000
- Firewall Centers provides daily, school based tutoring and mentoring services. Grant request: $60,083
- First Priority connects the Church to reach the Campus for Christ. Grant request: $48,150
- Taylor’s Closet helps girls understand their value, know their worth, and realize their God-given destiny. Grant request: $56,954
- Saints International Sports Ministry shares the love of Jesus Christ through the platform of sports. Grant request: $33,500
There is still time to become a StrikeForce421 pledge partner and help meet the needs of all the semi-finalist ministries. All are welcome to join. While it’s a women’s giving circle, men are welcome to support, and one of the ways they can do that is with a Legacy gift in honor of a loved one.
To find out more, visit strikeforce421.org