Breaking Barriers, Building Women: Economic Empowerment Program focuses on higher education and asset building for low-income women in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. Initial funding for the program allowed AWF to award a total of $1 million over two years to eight local nonprofit organizations.

economic empowerment

AWF applies a Collective Impact Approach to its grantmaking. Through this approach AWF brings together our grantees in order to do the most good for the largest number of women and girls. As the backbone organization, AWF guides the vision and strategy of the project, maintains communication, ensures all data is collected and measured in the same way, and provides supportive activities like annual convenings.
Program components include cohort multi-year funding; facilitated discussions to foster a safe environment for peer sharing; program evaluation technical assistance; individualized one-on-one consultation; workshops and trainings; and interactive convenings that allow nonprofits an opportunity to share their work and explore collaboration.
Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, funding for year three of the program will shift to meet the developing needs of AWF grantees and their clients.

AWF is grateful to The Coca-Cola Foundation and the Truist Foundation for their funding in support of a third year of the Breaking Barriers, Building Women: Economic Empowerment Program.

coca cola

Behind Every Number is a Woman...

After her domestic partner left, Shari* found herself in a difficult financial situation without stable employment or stable housing. Raising her three-year old alone, Shari struggled to keep a job while providing adequate childcare.

After saving some money by working several odd jobs, Shari decided to go back to school, and found a fast track bachelors and master's program in social work at Georgia State University. Having to reduce her work hours to finish school and needing help with rent payments, her professor suggested she reach out to AWF grantee partner H.O.P.E. Inc.

Shari participated in H.O.P.E. Inc.'s Hope for Low-Income Single Parents (H-LISP) program for thirteen months. The H-LISP Program offers financial assistance, financial training, and counseling support services to improve the likelihood that they will complete their coursework and graduate successfully. Thank to H.O.P.E. Inc's assistance, Shari graduated from GSU with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and eventually a Master's degree in Social Work.

After earning her Master's degree, Shari worked as a social worker at a local nursing home. She plans to open her own practice now that she is a licensed clinical social worker. Interested in social work research, Shari would like to pursue a Ph.D.

"If not for H.O.P.E. Inc., and AWF, I'm not sure where I'd be, or where my daughter would be. I always had the drive; I just needed the support system to help me believe in myself. I am in awe of the opportunities I've been afforded, and grateful to those who helped make my dreams a reality," said Shari.

*pseudonym used to protect grantee client

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Project Outcomes 2018-2022

Numbers represent women living at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.


Gained access to the Breaking Barriers, Building Women: Economic Empowerment Program combination of services.


Completed financial literacy training.


Enrolled in an undergraduate or technical school program within 4 months of entering the program.


Attained a degree or certification.


Received scholarships and/or free childcare.


Gained full-time employment in their career fields, earning incomes 250% above poverty level.

2023-2024 Grantees

(Click each row to expand.)