The American Association of University Women Provides Scholarships and Resources to Help Young Women Follow Their Chosen Paths
By Hilary Dartt
Young women who lay the right groundwork have more opportunities to follow the path that works for them. Helping people lay that groundwork—through education and empowering community partnerships and programs—is the goal of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
The AAUW was founded in 1881, with the mission “to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy.”
The Prescott branch was established in 1949, and now includes about 175 members.
President Carol Dosse explained that AAUW takes a “very solidly non-partisan” approach to issues that affect all American women, regardless of their ideology. “AAUW advocates for legislation and programs to support its vision of equality for all.”
Past President Penny Briner Ewell pointed out that in America, there is still a pay disparity between genders; women earn significantly less than men. “There is absolutely no way we can close that gap without equal opportunities in education, healthcare, childcare, and eldercare.”
Through its scholarship programs and community partnerships and events, then, the Prescott AAUW branch strives to equip young local women with what they need to build foundations for a life full of opportunities.
Supporting girls and women in their educational pursuits is a main tenet of AAUW’s work.
“A [higher education] teaches you how to learn,” Carol said. “It’s okay not to have it connect directly to a profession. You change, the world changes, but when you earn a degree, you learned to be flexible on how to think, and how to adapt. Nothing you learn is wasted.”
Penny added, “From a practical standpoint, as the economy becomes more skill-based … education gives women opportunities to gather skills to enter the workforce, even in areas that are traditionally male-dominated. Women can be economically stable, without depending on anyone else.”
To open doors to higher education, Prescott’s AAUW branch offers two annual endowed scholarships through the Yavapai College Foundation.
The Mary Alice Moulton Scholarship pays for tuition at Yavapai College’s Del E. Webb Family Enrichment Center so a Yavapai College student’s child can receive on-campus childcare.
This particular scholarship moved Penny from finding AAUW interesting to knowing she wanted to get involved.
“My sister was a single mom of three, and she went back to college in her late twenties,” Penny said. “She didn’t have a support system in place for her kids and this scholarship would have helped her.”
The Centennial Scholarship is awarded to Yavapai College students who have attended at least a semester of college and earned a 3.0 grade-point average or higher.
Since the scholarships were established (in 2007 and 2012, respectively), AAUW’s Prescott branch has awarded $35,000.
AAUW raises money through various events, including this past year the Women’s Forum, which raised $10,000 for scholarships, gala celebrations, literary luncheons, and more. The organization also offers two self-guided tours, “A Stroll Through Victorian Prescott” and “Art: On and Off the Wall.”
The Prescott branch of AAUW has partnered with other organizations to offer events designed to educate and inspire young people, and equip them with the skills they need to follow the paths they want to follow.
AAUW worked with Yavapai College and the Prescott Unified School District to offer The Reality Store®, where students select a career, learn its monthly salary, and then “spend” their salary by making choices about food, housing, transportation, and entertainment they envision as part of their lifestyle.
In its nearly 75 years, AAUW has sponsored other outreach endeavors including Rocket Day at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Sister to Sister mentoring, which encourages girls to continue their education. The organization has provided community support in establishing Stepping Stones advocacy services and the Del E. Webb Family Enrichment Center, moving Bashford House to the Sharlot Hall Museum, and participating in the Yavapai Regional Medical Center/Dignity Health Council of Electors.
Community action also includes various AAUW sponsorships; for example, the organization donated to the Yavapai Free Library District so schools could purchase books, and sponsored three women from Yavapai College’s Law and Justice department to attend a Lessons of the Holocaust training in Washington, DC. Also, AAUW has fostered anti-bullying programs in schools and studied issues related to education; it has also performed clothing, food, and school supply drives.
Both Carol and Penny said the COVID-19 pandemic affected AAUW’s ability to offer the number and variety of community action programs they’d like to, and they look forward to working with other local organizations to expand those offerings. For more information or to explore a partnership with AAUW, use the contact form or mailing address on the website.
A Sense of Community
In addition to providing opportunities for young people to achieve their educational and professional goals, Prescott’s AAUW branch provides opportunities for its members to connect with others through interest groups such as book groups, photography groups, bridge groups, healthy living groups, singles group, travel discussion group, and more.
“I joined [AAUW] because of its support for women and education, and how much that meant to me,” Carol said. “The bonus is how much connection exists within the membership.”
Looking to the Future
Penny said the local women of AAUW look forward to expanding their membership and their programs. General meetings take place the second Saturday of each month, September to November, and January to May. Discussion topics include health, history, government, and education, with an emphasis on women and equity. Women can attend a few meetings without committing to membership.
Learn more about Prescott’s AAUW branch, including how to become a member, how to contact current members to discuss partnership opportunities, and current programming, at https://www.aauwprescott.net.