This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Bianca Zhang.
“AAUW promotes lifelong learning. I think that’s what’s happened to me. You start with one thing and want to find out more, which leads you to something else — all different experiences and all enriching. You hope, along the way, that you have made a difference.”
— Community Action Grantee Charlotte Crawford
Before engaging in a career as a self-proclaimed “professional volunteer,” Charlotte Crawford was a math teacher. She joined AAUW of Illinois after her daughters went off to school. Crawford began working on a Title IX compliance survey in her daughters’ school district, which led to a nine- year stint on the school board. It was then that she became very involved in community service and other AAUW issues and activities. Crawford received an AAUW Community Action Grant in 1997 to fund an AAUW of Illinois gender equity newsletter entitled What’s Working for Girls in Illinois. One AAUW project led to the next, and Crawford earned grants to create more newsletters, build middle and high school curricula, and co-found the AAUW Gender Equity Fund of Illinois.
Crawford then moved to Tennessee, where she joined the AAUW Maryville (TN) Branch and co-founded the Women’s Equity Foundation, where she worked on an array of projects, including writing and editing six books. If all of her volunteer work has taught her one thing, it is the importance of linking up with others. “Reach out to others in your community,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to try something when you have an idea. It all starts with someone saying ‘I think we ought to … ’”
Her most recent project exemplifies this creative and valiant attitude. Crawford and former AAUW of Tennessee President Ruth Johnson Smiley are collaborating on a book called the Tennessee Women Project, which recognizes Tennessee women and their contributions “from frontier days though the 20th century.” Created with the help of an advisory council and 20 authors, the book will profile 22 women. Crawford explains that the ultimate goal for the book, which is scheduled to be published next year, is not necessarily to generate profit but to acknowledge women who have had an impact, if even it’s just on a local level. All proceeds generated by the book will support its distribution and AAUW of Tennessee’s scholarship fund to send local college students to AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
Crawford and the Tennessee Women Project are certainly paying it forward and furthering the mission of AAUW to break through barriers for women and girls! It seems to me that Crawford, through her continuous advocacy for gender equity in education and volunteer work with AAUW, has made a truly positive difference.
The Community Action Grant that Charlotte Crawford received was sponsored by two Illinois Research and Projects Grants – the Eugenia Chapman Research and Projects Grant established in 1981 and the Mildred Freburg Berry Research and Projects Grant established in 1982.