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Women's Educational Center

 46 Pleasant Street
 Cambridge, MA 02139
[P] (617) 354-6394
[F] --
Linda Pinkow
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 23-7131753

LAST UPDATED: 01/04/2019
Organization DBA Cambridge Women's Center
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No



Mission StatementMORE »

The mission of the Women's Center is:
* To provide women with the resources and support they need to deal with domestic violence, sexual abuse, homelessness, poverty, racism, discrimination, social isolation and degradation;
 *and to challenge and change attitudes, actions, and institutions that subjugate women.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Women's Center is:
* To provide women with the resources and support they need to deal with domestic violence, sexual abuse, homelessness, poverty, racism, discrimination, social isolation and degradation;
 *and to challenge and change attitudes, actions, and institutions that subjugate women.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $220,000.00
Projected Expense $220,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • 1. Crisis and Information Helpline
  • 2. Drop-in Center for Homeless Women and Children
  • 3. Computer/Internet Access and Literacy
  • 4. Moving On: Support for Abused Women
  • 5. Healing Empowerment through Arts Learning (HEAL)

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Women's Center is:
* To provide women with the resources and support they need to deal with domestic violence, sexual abuse, homelessness, poverty, racism, discrimination, social isolation and degradation;
 *and to challenge and change attitudes, actions, and institutions that subjugate women.

Background Statement

Founded in 1971, the Women's Educational Center, Inc. is the oldest continuously operating, community-based center for women in the United States. Located near Central Square, Cambridge, convenient to public transportation and handicapped-accessible, the Women's Center provides a wide array of support services and other resources to low-income, homeless and abused women. Our goal is to contribute to their healing, empowerment and self-sufficiency. Our community includes women and their children from throughout the Greater Boston area, including Cambridge, Boston, Somerville, Arlington, Watertown, and surrounding communities.
The Women's Center offers holistic services to help women struggling with poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, rape, harassment and discrimination. Our programs and services help women move from isolation and pain to a place of healing and personal growth.
The Women's Center has been instrumental in establishing and nurturing organizations and projects essential to helping oppressed women, such as the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Transition House--the first battered women's shelter in New England, Elizabeth Stone House--an innovative residential mental health program for women and their children, Incest Resources--the first U.S. organization created by and for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, Deaf Women's Counseling Project, Women's Community Cancer Project, Women of Action, Survivor Theatre Project, and Survivor Quilt Project.
All our services are free. Women are able to access a wide array of services six days a week, including computer use and training, support groups, skill-building workshops, peer counseling, childcare, and nutritious food from our communal kitchen. We also operate a crisis helpline, provide daytime refuge and support to homeless and other low-income women, and offer the area’s most comprehensive therapeutic programming for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Impact Statement


In 2017, the Women’s Center received 7,412 visits, including 3,201 visits to our Drop-In Program, and 4,211 visits to attend scheduled activities such as classes, workshops, support groups, and one-on-one coaching. We received 2,557 calls to our Helpline for emotional support and informational resources. The Women’s Center offered 84 different groups and workshops that met weekly, monthly or occasionally.

In 2017, approximately 80% of the women we served were low-income, 38% were women of color, 12% were immigrants, 23% were homeless or recently homeless, and over 60% were survivors of violence or sexual abuse.

We continue to keep our expenses low, thanks to our dedicated corps of volunteers, including pro bono professionals, college and high school interns, and diverse representatives of our community. Over the course of 2017, 211 volunteers and interns contributed their time and talents to the Center.

This year, the Women’s Center continues to meet the needs of women in Greater Boston by offering a crisis helpline, a drop-in center open 55 hours a week, two computer labs, a kitchen with nutritious donated food, support groups, peer counseling, arts therapy, and other educational programs and resources, all free of charge.

The Center will continue to provide a wide variety of support groups, educational workshops and other resources. Some examples of our current offerings include: Narcotics Anonymous, Managing Your Money, Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Drop-In Group, Feminist Book Club, Finding Your Voice, Gentle Yoga & Mindfulness, Meditation for Stress Management, Songwriting, Beading, Sewing, and Women’s Healing Circle.

We will continue to increase our one-on-one computer support and Internet training for visitors to our computer labs. Women with very little knowledge about computers appreciate this assistance. We will also continue to allow women to print up to five pages per day for free   .

Needs Statement

Funding for programs and services including overhead and administrative costs
New volunteers
New board members
Social work interns
Repairs to front steps of building

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
We primarily serve women residing in Cambridge and Greater Boston, but women from across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and other states call our helpline and attend some of our unique support groups and trainings because they cannot find similar services in their area.

Organization Categories

  1. Human Services - Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations
  2. Mental Health & Crisis Intervention - Hot Lines & Crisis Intervention
  3. Human Services - Victims' Services

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



1. Crisis and Information Helpline

The Women's Center operates a 55-hour per week helpline that is staffed by trained volunteers. Abused women struggling with painful memories, anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings are able to call for counseling, crisis support, or resource information. Center staff and volunteers speak 13 languages and are able to communicate with women from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Each year, thousands of women make calls to our helpline.
Budget  $20,000.00
Category  Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Peer Counseling
Population Served Females Victims Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success  90% of women who call our helpline will feel that their concerns were heard and that they are welcome to call at any time to use it as a resource to talk through situations that they're facing.
Program Long-Term Success  Through receiving supportive listening, peer counseling and information referrals, 70% of women who call the helpline over time will feel less isolated, anxious and depressed. They will feel supported, gain greater self-esteem and feel empowered to address their circumstances. 60% will decide to use other Women's Center programs and resources, such as attend a support group or workshop to get more assistance, information and support and to engage with other women facing similar circumstances.
Program Success Monitored By  Call logs keep a record of callers, times that they call, issues that they call about, and any results of the call.
Examples of Program Success  The best indicator of our helpline's success is that women who have used it as a resource have returned to the Center and trained to volunteer as helpline counselors. About 15% of current helpline volunteers are former callers.

2. Drop-in Center for Homeless Women and Children

During daytime hours when shelters are closed, homeless women come to the Center to use phones, computers, attend workshops, and to use our communal kitchen stocked with free, healthy food. Staff and volunteers are available to provide women with assistance securing emergency shelter, housing, counseling services and other resources.
Budget  $20,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Services for the Homeless
Population Served Females Homeless Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success    
Program Long-Term Success    
Program Success Monitored By    
Examples of Program Success    

3. Computer/Internet Access and Literacy

The Center has two computer labs that are open 55 hours a week and accessible on a drop-in basis. We offer specialized computer training twice a week and one-to-one assistance with job searching and resume writing. Individualized instruction can be requested and we also provide self-paced tutorials. Women regularly use our labs to conduct housing searches, complete job applications, do school work, research and more. They have free access to the Internet and printing.
Budget  $25,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other Information & Referral
Population Served Females Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent Adults
Program Short-Term Success    
Program Long-Term Success    
Program Success Monitored By    
Examples of Program Success    

4. Moving On: Support for Abused Women

Moving On is a comprehensive, specialized recovery program that meets the emotional, health and general life skills needs of women who have experienced domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, rape, trafficking and other forms of violence. Participants receive crisis counseling, peer support, health and wellness services, and employment and housing assistance. The program uniquely uses expressive arts therapy to address deep psychic trauma. Participants are able to join our Survivor Quilt and Survivor Theatre Projects. As they heal and recover, they are also encouraged to engage in public awareness campaigns to end the cycle of abuse. Moving On program activities are led by pro bono counseling professionals, educators, health practitioners, art therapists and trained volunteers.
Budget  $104,000.00
Category  Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Specialized Counseling
Population Served Females Victims Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
75% of Moving On program participants will attend sessions regularly and become part of a community of survivors through support groups.
60% of Moving On participants will engage in expressive arts therapy and use creative practices to address their personal healing and to inform the public about the problem of violence against women and children.
Program Long-Term Success 
70% of abused women will move out of abusive situations.
40% of women who have participated in Moving On will engage in advocacy and public education to help other women dealing with abuse and to help end the cycle of abuse for future generations.
20% of participants will return to the Center to lead support groups and other activities for women dealing with abuse.
Program Success Monitored By  The program is evaluated by surveys and evaluation forms that are filled out by participants and program leaders. Program facilitators track number of attendees and document progress made in sessions. Through journaling, women are able to express repressed feelings.
Examples of Program Success 
We regularly receive feedback from women who have found that the program has dramatically shifted their perspectives and helped to change their lives.
"I have so much hope for the future. I now realize that I don't have to be treated badly or be beaten ever again. My kids don't ever need to see it again." --Moving On Participant
Women who have participated in Moving On have come back to the Center to develop and lead activities for women who are currently facing issues of abuse.

5. Healing Empowerment through Arts Learning (HEAL)

Free arts and crafts classes are held four days a week, specifically targeting homeless and low-income women. HEAL participants gain artistic skills, learn to express themselves creatively, and participate in a process that offers stress relief, healing and recovery. In a safe and supportive, they learn from volunteer artists, arts educators and arts therapists. Daily a different form of 2- and 3-dimensional art making is explored, Beading (Monday), Drawing and Painting (Tuesday), Sewing (Wednesday), and Crochet and Knitting (Thursday). In collaboration with Art Collectives for Homeless and Low-Income Women and City HeART Show and Sale, participants are able to exhibit and sell their work, earning much needed income.
Budget  $45,000.00
Category  Human Services, General/Other
Population Served At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success      
Program Long-Term Success    
Program Success Monitored By      
Examples of Program Success      

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Judy Norris
CEO Term Start Dec 2015
CEO Email
CEO Experience --
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Ms. Kendra Thomas Sept 2006 Feb 2007
Ms. Martina Bouey Jan 2002 Aug 2006

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Jessye Kass Director of Programs --
Linda Pinkow Development Coordinator --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Adbar Ethiopian Women’s Alliance, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge College, Cambridge Community Center, Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge Community Television, Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge Human Services Programs, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge Multi-Service Center, Cambridge Neighborhood Apartment Housing, Cambridge Peace Commission, Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge Public Library (Central Square), Cambridge Senior Volunteer Clearinghouse, Cambridge Women’s Commission, Casa Myrna Vazquez, CASPAR, Inc., Central Square Theater, Chipotle, Community Conversations, Community Cooks, Community Works, Elizabeth Stone House, Emerson College, Fenway Community Health Center, Food for Free, Girls Scouts of the USA, Harvard University, Harvest Coop, Health Care for the Homeless, Jose Mateo Ballet Theater, Lesley University, Loving Spoonful, Margaret Fuller House, MA Commission Against Discrimination, MA Friends of Midwives, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Matahari Eye of the Day, Northeastern University, On The Rise, Old South Church, Panera Bread, Pine Street Inn, RESOLVE New England, Revels, Inc., R.O.A.D. (Reaching Out About Depression), Rosie’s Place, Ruby Rogers Center, Simmons College, Starbucks, Start Money Smart, St Francis House, Stonehill College, Teen Life, Trader Joe’s, Transition House, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Whole Foods Market, and YWCA

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 140
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 50%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 2
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Ms Judy Norris
Board Chair Company Affiliation Women's Center
Board Chair Term Apr 2018 - Mar 2019
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term Jan - Dec

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Tamar Hoffman Paralegal Advocate, Harvard Law School Legal Services Center Voting
Meredith Humphrey AVP Risk and Compliance Manager, State Street Global Advisors Voting
Karen B. Montagno Director of Congregational Resources and Training, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Voting
Judy Norris Founder and Full-time Volunteer Voting
Cara Okopny Professorial Lecturer, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, American University --
Neha Srivastava Associate Consultant, L.E.K. Consulting Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 6
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 95%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Governance and Policy
  • Personnel

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $220,000.00
Projected Expense $220,000.00
Form 990s

2016 Form 990

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

2011 Form 990

2010 Form 990

2009 Form 990

2008 Form 990

Audit Documents

2016 Review

2015 Review

2014 Review

2013 Review

2012 Review

2011 Review

2010 Review

2009 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $175,689 $227,559 $183,484
Total Expenses $209,249 $145,213 $143,773

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $175,306 $227,193 $183,077
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $383 $366 $407
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $142,214 $116,404 $97,785
Administration Expense $11,137 $11,850 $20,722
Fundraising Expense $55,898 $16,959 $25,266
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.84 1.57 1.28
Program Expense/Total Expenses 68% 80% 68%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 32% 7% 14%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $325,585 $364,728 $295,329
Current Assets $255,591 $288,463 $227,503
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $18,202
Current Liabilities $3,730 $8,447 $3,920
Total Net Assets $321,855 $356,281 $273,207

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 6.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 68.52 34.15 58.04

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 6%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available. 


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

The Women's Center supports, educates and empowers women. Our goal is to help women overcome profound challenges in their lives. We especially focus on meeting the needs of marginalized women who are low income, homeless, women of color, immigrants, survivors of abuse and sexual violence, struggling with mental illness or physical disabilities, facing gender or sexual discrimination, or experiencing other forms of oppression. We provide all our programs and services confidentially, free of charge, and without the bureaucratic barriers that can deter vulnerable women from seeking help.

The Center provides an integrated program of social support services, including material assistance (donated food and clothing, free computer access, and a safe daytime refuge), informational support (advice on health, housing, employment, legal and other services), and emotional support (a space for women to share their stories and express their needs). These three types of social support have all been shown to improve women’s physical and mental health. The women who visit our Center are able to access integrated services under one roof, which makes it easier for them to find what they need and gives them a better chance to heal. For many of our visitors, access to a safe and warm space, a hot meal, a variety of opportunities to learn new skills, and a supportive community are profoundly valuable and life-changing opportunities.
For more than 45 years, the Women's Center has been achieving the following goals:

- Visitors to the Center find a wide range of support services, educational programs, and social activities that help enrich their lives.

- Trauma survivors engage in multi-session, therapeutic processes that help them heal.

- Low-income women acquire new skills and knowledge to obtain adequate housing, meaningful jobs, healthcare and other critical services. They learn to manage their finances and become more economically self-sufficient.

- Abused women are empowered to move out of violent relationships and protect themselves from harm.

- Program participants feel less isolated, anxious or depressed. They gain greater self-awareness and develop confidence to make needed changes in their lives.

- Program participants lead public education campaigns related to gender-based violence, promoting dialogue and empathy that lead to change.

- Former program participants will mentor and support women who are currently facing similar problems.

We define the long-term success of our organization as our continuing ability to bring lasting, meaningful change to the lives of women and their children in Greater Boston.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

The Women’s Center meets its goals through the following programs and services:

- A drop-in center, open Mondays through Saturdays, 55 hours per week, where women and their children can find daytime refuge, meals and snacks, computers with internet access, and other basic resources.

- A 55-hour-per-week helpline, staffed by trained volunteers, which provides callers with peer counseling, crisis support and resources to address their problems.

- Information, resources and emotional support to help low-income women attain food, housing, shelter, health care, mental health services and other basic needs.

- A daily schedule of self-help activities including support groups, skill-building workshops, trainings, counseling, and resource and referral information.

- The Moving On program, a unique set of programs and services geared toward survivors of violence and other traumas, which provides healing resources and also helps survivors become advocates who educate the public about issues affecting women and children in order to promote social change.

- Healing Empowerment through Arts Learning (HEAL), an art therapy program that provides participants with relief and restoration from trauma while encouraging them to develop creative skills.

- A spacious, bright and cheerful Children’s Room with toys, games, puzzles, art supplies and multicultural books, and we offer childcare for mothers attending Center activities.

- A lending library with books on women’s health, domestic violence, sexual abuse, self-help and recovery, as well as poetry, biographies, fiction and other non-fiction written by women.

- Regularly scheduled community luncheons and breakfasts, as well as special community meals for holidays, thanks to food donations from allied community organizations.

The Women's Center provides all programs and services free of charge, so that any woman can receive help regardless of economic circumstances. We value multiculturalism and provide all services with sensitivity to cultural differences. We also value our collaborations with local agencies and allied organizations, which allow us to increase the quantity and quality of services that are available to women in need.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The Women’s Center benefits from the following strengths and capabilities:

Founded in 1971, the Women’s Center is the oldest community-based center for women in the United States. Our experience is one of our greatest strengths.

The Center is located in a historic Victorian house near Central Square, Cambridge, convenient to public transportation and wheelchair accessible. Our home is a welcoming, safe space that provides enough space for a wide variety of programs and services.

We have developed expertise and effectiveness in serving women of all racial, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Over the years, we have built a multiracial, multicultural community based on mutual respect and celebration of our differences. Our diversity is a source of strength.

Our unique combination of counseling, resource referrals, educational programs and community-building helps marginalized women acquire new skills, gain greater self-awareness, and develop confidence to make needed changes in their lives.

We rely on a corps of pro bono counseling and health professionals, educators, and other trained volunteers. In 2016, over 120 volunteers and interns helped to manage the Women’s Center and provide services for our clients. These dedicated volunteers bring a range of professional skills. They serve as helpline counselors, lead support groups, run workshops, assist with administrative work, and perform myriad other tasks. Current volunteers speak more than 25 languages, which helps them communicate with immigrant women from diverse cultures.

We estimate that our volunteers will contribute over 13,000 hours of work in 2017. The total value of volunteer services was over $377,000 in 2016.

The Women's Center also collaborates with about 50 allied organizations to supplement our programming and enhance our expertise. Our community partnerships strengthen our programs and services. For example, the Asian Task Force on Domestic Violence recently did a training for our volunteers on cultural sensitivity with DV survivors. The Cambridge Police Department has given trainings for our staff and volunteers on de-escalation techniques and understanding homelessness. Other local organizations, such as Community Cooks, Lovin Spoonfuls and Food for Free, donate meals, salads, sandwiches and other nutritious food for our visitors to prepare themselves. We also cooperate with other community service organizations by referring our Drop-In visitors to them. We maintain a Women's Resource Database that helps us connect women in need with organizations that can help them.

The Women’s Center encourages the involvement of women from the community at every level of the organization. Active participation increases the sense of ownership among women who use the Center and leads to a stronger organization.

For over 45 years, the Cambridge Women's Center has served as a place of refuge, resources, education, community, healing and empowerment. We have helped generations of women face their past traumas, find their way out of abusive relationships, get access to food, shelter and other basic needs, learn coping mechanisms, develop all kinds of skills, meet women like themselves, find common ground with women unlike themselves, find inner strengths they didn't think they had, and learn how to use their knowledge and experiences to help others. Women of all ages, races, ethnic and economic backgrounds tell us that the skills, support and sisterhood they've found at the Women's Center have been deeply moving, valuable, and sometimes life-changing experiences.

As other organizations have come and gone, the Women's Center has endured as a unique resource for women and their children in Greater Boston and beyond.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

The Women’s Center employs both qualitative and quantitative methods to assess our Drop-in Program. Our surveys and interviews are completely confidential and voluntary, in accord with our commitment to providing our guests with a sensitive and non-invasive intake process.

Volunteers at our reception desk count the number of visitors and the services and resources that they utilize. Workshop facilitators report the number of attendees in workshops, support groups and trainings, and provide information on the demographics of the women being served. We track the number and types of groups, workshops and trainings offered at the Center, as well as our collaborations with other organizations, community activities and outreach efforts.

Volunteers who work with our Drop-In visitors keep detailed notes during each shift, reporting requests, concerns, unusual incidents, actions taken, and other observations of the program and its participants. We compile and review this detailed information on a regular basis, and the Drop-In Program Coordinator meets with volunteers regularly to follow up on these observations. Volunteer leaders of support groups and workshops are also encouraged to give periodic evaluations of their group activities.

We actively solicit qualitative feedback from program participants. Members of our community are encouraged to attend bi-weekly luncheons where we discuss specific aspects of our programs. We also encourage our visitors and volunteers to communicate one-to-one with staff and Board members. As an inclusive, cooperative community, the Women’s Center encourages all of our members to express their needs and opinions.

Program participants often remain in contact with facilitators and other group members even after they stop attending sessions. Through these lasting connections, we are able to learn further about the effectiveness of the program. One of the important measures of our success is that many women who have participated in our support groups and other programs have been empowered to develop and lead activities that assist women currently coping with issues of abuse.
We administer surveys to participants in the Drop-In Program about once a year. We also distribute evaluation forms to people who attend workshops and support groups. We use these assessments to analyze whether our programs are meeting expectations, which activities were most successful or needed, what challenges arose, and other program outcomes. We use the compiled information to evaluate how satisfied participants are and how effectively we are meeting their needs. These evaluations influence which groups and resources we will continue to offer, and which ones will be revised, improved or discontinued. We also solicit recommendations from our visitors on new programming that they would like us to offer.

In addition, we recently began a new program of more frequent, in-depth, one-on-one interviews. We designed the interview questionnaires and conducted a pilot program at the end of 2016. We are now planning to do these in-depth interviews with selected samples of our visitors several times a year.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

In 2016, the Women’s Center received 4,948 visits, including 2,583 visits to our drop-in center, and 2,365 visits to attend scheduled activities such as classes, workshops, support groups, and one-on-one tutoring or coaching. In addition, we answered 3,968 calls to our Helpline .

The majority of women who participate in our programs are low-income, minority, homeless or immigrants. They come with histories of domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, mental health issues and/or physical disabilities.

In 2016, approximately 90% of the women we served were low-income, 40% were women of color, 15% were immigrants, 25% were homeless, and over 50% were survivors of violence or sexual abuse. Most of them have histories of domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, mental health issues and/or physical disabilities. Many of them require an array of services to address complicated, interrelated and deep-rooted problems.

We estimate that 80% of women we serve are low-income, 40% are women of color, 20% are immigrants, and 25% are homeless. More than half have experienced abuse, and most of those have a history of child sexual abuse.

In 2017, we expect to increase the number of women we serve by increasing our program offerings and improving our marketing and outreach.