The Greater Houston Women's Foundation (GHWF) was established in 1990 by a group of Houston women who were concerned that only four to five percent of nationwide charitable donations were allocated to help women and girls. Consequently, the Greater Houston Women's Foundation was created to focus specifically on the needs of women and girls in Houston. The mission of the Greater Houston Women's Foundation is to provide funding for projects and programs that benefit women and girls. Through grants, the Foundation gives back to the community seventy-five percent of the money donated.
Each year, the Greater Houston Women's Foundation awards grants to agencies and programs that are devoted to women and girls. The Grants Committee reviews proposals and makes its recommendations to the Board of Trustees, who then finalize the selection. The Foundation typically awards grants to seven to twelve agencies per year, at its annual Grants luncheon. The Foundation strives to award grants to a diversity of programs. Recent recipients include the Chinese Community Center, the Women's Home and the Women's Resource and Crisis Center in Galveston, Project Row Houses, Chinquapin School, ESCAPE Family Resource Center, the Houston READ Commission, and the San Jacinto Girl Scouts.
Education is another important component of the Greater Houston Women's Foundation. The Foundation sponsors a number of educational seminars and conferences, many of which feature prominent Houston women who address issues such as career enhancement and the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem for women and girls. The main focus of the Foundation's educational efforts is, however, financial planning and money management.
The Greater Houston Women's Foundation and several institutions of higher learning in the Houston area, including the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and Houston Community College, have worked together on research projects which examine current issues relevant to women. These studies have focused on topics such as the "glass ceiling" in the workplace, childcare and benefits, and girls and gangs. Copies of the completed research projects can be found in the Houston Public Library and its branches, and they are also distributed to elected officials. Based upon the findings of the research project, each year the Greater Houston Women's Foundation presents its Excellence awards to local businesses in recognition of their progressive policies. Recent recipients of the Excellence awards include Shell Oil Company, Mir Fox and Rodriquez, PanEnergy Corporation, and Browning-Ferris Industries.
Although no items relating to it are included in the collection, in 1992 the Greater Houston Women's Foundation, in conjunction with PBS station KUHT, developed and produced a television series entitled "Focus on Success." The Greater Houston Women's Foundation also participates in programs such as the national "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." Many prominent women have been involved in some manner with the Greater Houston Women's Foundation, including Oprah Winfrey, Nellie Connally, Elizabeth Rockwell, former Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin, former United States Ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt, and local celebrities Jan Carson and Shara Fryer.