Founded in 1921, Soroptimist International of the Americas is an international organization for business and professional women who provide volunteer service to their communities. About 45,000 Soroptimists in 20 countries and territories contribute time and financial support to community-based and international projects benefiting women and girls. Soroptimist International of the Americas is part of Soroptimist International, which comprises almost 95,000 members in about 120 countries.
The name, Soroptimist, means ''best for women,'' and that''s what the organization strives to achieve. Soroptimists are women at their best working to help other women to be their best.
Soroptimist members belong to local clubs, which determine the focus of service to their communities. Club projects range from renovating domestic violence shelters, to providing mammograms to low-income women, to sponsoring self-esteem workshops for teenage girls. In addition, Soroptimists participate in organization-wide programs that include the Women''s Opportunity Awards, Soroptimist Club Grants for Women and Girls, the Soroptimist Workplace Campaign to End Domestic Violence, the Making a Difference for Women Award and the Violet Richardson Award. All projects seek to make life better for women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.
1.Women's Opportunity Awards: These awards improve the lives of women by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. Each year, more than 700 Soroptimist clubs in 19 countries and territories assist women in overcoming personal difficulties and improving their lives by gaining education and skills training. The women, who provide the primary source of financial support for their families, may use the cash award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education, including books, childcare and transportation. Club recipients become eligible for additional cash awards at other levels of the organization, including three $10,000 finalist awards.
2. Soroptimist Club Grants for Women and Girls: Often the abilities and ambitions of local Soroptimist clubs exceed their financial resources. To help clubs meet community need, Soroptimist introduced the Soroptimist Club Grants for Women and Girls in 1997 to assist with community service projects that improve the lives of women and girls. The Soroptimist organization funds about $175,000 each year in Soroptimist Club Grants. Recent projects include providing resources for immigrant women fleeing domestic violence; funding a micro-enterprise artisan project for low-income women; providing reproductive health services for women in poverty; and teaching marketable job skills to girls with disabilities.
3. Violet Richardson Award: This award honors girls who are making a difference through volunteer service. Each year, Soroptimist clubs honor girls who donate their time and energy to causes that make the community and world a better place, such as working to end discrimination and poverty, assisting women and children who are victims of domestic violence, or mentoring young girls. The program begins on the Soroptimist club level, with club recipients becoming eligible for additional awards at other levels of the organization. One winner is chosen to receive a finalist award, which includes a contribution of $2,500 to the charitable organization of the recipient's choice.