As the Women's Leadership Council advances its mission of preparing the Quad-Cities' children for the future, it will do so with the added voices, ideas and efforts of more young professional women.

A $100,000 Transformation Grant, awarded to the leadership council by Community Foundation of the Great River Bend not only expands the region's Born Learning Academies but also will enable more younger women to join the council. 

To become a member of the leadership council, which is part of the United Way of the Quad-Cities Area, charter members make a one-time $2,500 donation. With the grant, another 80 young professional women — age 40 and under — will receive financial assistance to become charter members. The grant will match the young professionals' $1,250 donation.

Every dollar of their donation then will support the council's Born Learning Academies' initiative. The six-week program supports early childhood development by engaging parents with their children and schools.

Kelly Thompson, vice president of grant-making and initiatives for the Community Foundation, said the focus on recruiting young women will help sustain the Women's Leadership Council's efforts in the community. In the future, she said, "The Women's Leadership Council will be able to count on those donors and not only their money but their ideas."

"Some young women might feel that giving $2,500, based on where they are at financially, might not be affordable," said Rosie Barton, co-chair of the leadership council. 

Recognizing the shortage of younger members, the council worked with the foundation to provide financial assistance.

When the council was founded, the original goal was 100 charter members, which took a few years to reach, Barton said.

"A year ago, we kicked off (a goal) to get to the next 100," she said.

Membership now stands at 149 charter members. With the addition of 80 new members, she said it will surpass its goal.

With improving early learning for all as the leadership council's mission, Barton said, "Who better to get ideas from than these young women who are beginning to raise families of their own."

The Transformation Grant is the largest single grant awarded through the foundation's Community Impact Endowment.

"The Council is a group of passionate, focused women who have honed in on an important issues in our community, purposefully working to make it better," said Sherry Ristau, the community foundation's president and CEO. "There is no doubt that hundreds of families and young lives will be touched by this work."

The Women's Leadership Council has been the driving force behind many improvements in the community's early learning. Its first capital campaign raised $2.5 million for the construction of the new Scott County Family Y's new Early Learning Center at 624 E. 4th St., Davenport.