Center for Women closes doors, transfers flagship programs to YWCA
Charleston, SC - The Center for Women officially ceased operations on May 31, 2019, after nearly three decades of service to the greater Charleston community. The center has focused on educating and advocating for women since 1990. Before closing its doors, the Center for Women provided programs within the areas of personal empowerment, youth empowerment, professional development and entrepreneurship. The center was also well known for hosting an annual women’s conference that over the years attracted high-profile speakers and hundreds of attendees.
“After much thoughtful consideration, deep exploration and strategic planning by the Center for Women board of directors, the decision has been made to dissolve,” said Sonya Wyatt, the center’s board president. “We are honored to transition our current membership and some of our mission-focused programs to another wonderful Lowcountry organization whose values are in alignment with our own.”
“On behalf of the entire board, we would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the center over the years and who has been a part of the impact that the center has had in our communities.”
The board states that the competition for ongoing financial support has grown over the past several years, making it impossible to sustain operations.
“Despite having to close our doors, the legacy of the Center for Women will live on through the transfer of membership to the YWCA Greater Charleston and the thousands of testimonials from women and their loved ones about the center’s positive impact across the Lowcountry,” said Wyatt.
The YWCA Greater Charleston is currently exploring opportunities to extend some of the center’s most successful programs, such as SheStrong, a program that provides opportunities for young high school-aged women of diverse backgrounds to convene for skill-building, community service, and learning programs to equip them with the tools to begin advocating for themselves.
YWCA Greater Charleston is also reviewing, Connect the Dots, a monthly lunch and learn series that features local speakers and covers a variety of topics related to personal growth, professional development, and community engagement with an emphasis on networking.
Members of the Center for Women will have their membership transferred to the YWCA Greater Charleston through the end of 2019.
“We are sorry to see the Center for Women, whom we have long considered a partner in our mission to empower women, end its three decades of service to the Charleston community,” said LaVanda Brown, executive director for YWCA Greater Charleston. “At the same time, we are glad to see this exemplary organization complete its many years of service on a strong note. We look forward to continuing the Center for Women’s legacy, and hope that both its members and the community know that in us they still have a safe, strong, and welcoming place to come support the cause of women’s empowerment.”
The Center for Women was founded in 1990 as The Center for Women in Transition and became a registered nonprofit in 1992. Established initially as a counseling center, the organization aimed to help women develop personal growth, productiveness and general well-being. In 1996, the center’s program offerings expanded to accommodate women’s changing roles and needs.
In the following years, under the leadership of executive director, Jennet Robinson Alterman, the organization further developed as a hub for women. The center began offering networking event, information sessions and referral services. Alterman led the center until 2013.
Over the decades, some of the center’s highlights include when Gloria Steinem spoke at the annual Community Recognition Dinner in 1997 and when Oprah Winfrey recognized the center for outstanding programming and gave the nonprofit a $25,000 grant from Oprah’s Angel Network in 2006.
In 2015, the center published the “Charting the Course for Change” report in conjunction with a statewide task force and the Riley Center for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston. The report provided a comprehensive look into four areas, including leadership, health and safety, education and economic security as it relates women throughout the state of South Carolina.
Last November, the center held the C4W NEW conference featuring special guest, Elizabeth Gilbert, a New York Times best-selling author. Gilbert spoke to more than 200 women. The 2018 conference will serve as the center’s last major initiative.