I talked with Robin Schwartz, one of the founders and the Executive Director of the Aqua Foundation for Women based in Miami, Florida. The mission of the Aqua Foundation for Women is to serve as the funding catalyst for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. Their annual grant program awards organizations in a variety of areas including wellness, youth empowerment, therapeutic counseling, cultural enrichment, equality and more. AFW has targeted the unique health needs of LBT women by providing funding to the Pride Center to create an online directory of healthcare professionals who have passed a vetting process to determine that they treat LBT women with the respect they deserve. This initiative encourages LBT women to seek medical attention with greater frequency, comfort and ultimately save lives. I talked to Robin about Aqua Foundation for Women and issues facing our LGBT community.
When asked what her inspiration was for forming Aqua Foundation for Women, Schwartz stated: "Well, back in 2004 there was a group of us who felt that there were lots of pretty good organizations out there but they were mostly run by men and supported by men and therefore a lot of the work was for things that men thought were important. We agree with all that but we felt if there was an organization run by women and supported by women that we would be able to focus on some of the needs that were specific to women. So each year we put out grant programs for all different organizations to apply. This past year we gave funding to a university down here to do a study on transgender women's health and there's practically no statistics on that issue. We also gave money to PFLAG and other different youth groups in town. We also support a conference for the last few years called OUTlet which is put on by one of our local organizations and is really powerful. Not only do we give them funding but I also participate in panels. That one is centered around helping young women get job skills."
In May the annual Aqua Girl® event is held in South Beach which features something for every LBT woman with an array of pool and dance parties, comedy shows, film screenings, cocktail receptions and fitness workshops with the proceeds going to Aqua Foundation for Women. What began as a one-night breast cancer benefit in 1999 has grown into the largest charity women's week in the country, having raised more than $1.8 million dollars for Aqua Foundation for Women. Aqua Girl® has been attended by thousands of women, all with the focus of having a good time for a great cause.
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