BWGC - for webMembers of the Business Women's Giving CircleNancy K. Eberhardt is a founding member of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia's Business Women's Giving Circle.

For two decades I have been frustrated about the pace of growth of young women as leaders in entrepreneurship, business, and the science, technology and math professions here in Northern Virginia. It was 20  years ago that I served on an Advisory Board at George Mason University attempting to accelerate the number of young women graduating with business, math, engineering and science degrees. Many other advocates, with greater commitment and more concentrated efforts, have been at work on this issue for a long time.

And still the trajectory is slow. In a region that should be doing better.

So, when Eileen Ellsworth and Sari Raskin of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia asked to meet and discuss this topic, I was eager to hear their thoughts. They were fresh with ideas to match the mission of the Community Foundation to really move the needle on these opportunities for young girls and women in our community.

While we thought this could be done with the traditional fund-raising model of obtaining major dollars from corporate and individual deep-pockets, it seemed to make more sense to use a Giving Circle model. In early 2014 the Northern Virginia Business Women’s Giving Circle was founded to support programs and organizations in our region that promote business innovation, entrepreneurship, and 21st century careers for women and girls.

Our inaugural grant cycle recently awarded $40,000 to support three STEM Education and Entrepreneurship programs for girls in Northern Virginia!NFTE12014 Business Women's Giving Circle Grantee, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship – To support the creation of a two-week Girls Entrepreneurship Camp in Northern Virginia during the summer of 2015 that will teach a range of business topics, offer field trips to local businesses, and culminate in a business plan competition.

Now 43 women strong, we welcome additional like-minded, collaborative members. We pool our money annually to fund meaningful programs run by knowledgeable champions for our cause. We are hopeful that our financial support fuels the organizations and programs that can finally make a real impact, supporting many more young girls and women growing into leaders for our business community.