In 2014, Jolene Skinner called her Bridgestone co-worker Michele Herlein with an idea.
She wanted to start a Nashville chapter of Impact100, a group of women who give $1,000 each to create a large grant for a nonprofit.
Skinner had been a part of Impact100 in Austin, Texas, and her husband encouraged her to start a Nashville chapter.
Herlein, the current Impact100 Nashville president, was immediately on board.
“I’m in. Let’s get it done,” she told Skinner.
Within four months, the organization was a registered nonprofit.
The first year, Impact100 Nashville had 26 members and gave away $26,000 to the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative to support academic programs for incarcerated individuals.
Members come from across the economic spectrum, Herlein said.
“That’s what is beautiful about what we do. I by myself can’t write a $26,000 check and give it to a nonprofit, but collectively, we can,” she said.
Impact100 Nashville reached 100 members in 2019. Although membership dipped to 90 in 2020, it more than doubled to 203 for this year.
Herlein credited part of that increase to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coming out of the pandemic, people were hungry to get involved in things and to be with other people,” she said.
The immediate goal is for Impact100 to reach 500 members, a number Herlein said is within reach this year.
Impact100’s grants focus on organizations that are ending a cycle. This could be a cycle of homelessness, drug addiction, violence, mental illness or other cycles.
In May, Impact100 announces how much money it is giving away and invites nonprofits to submit letters of intent. This year, out of 54 submissions, 14 were chosen to submit a full application. These were then narrowed down to eight semifinalists.
Over the next few weeks, members will participate in virtual visits with the semifinalists and grade them. Four finalists will be chosen to give a virtual presentation on Nov. 4, the voting day.
Two will be chosen as this year’s grant recipients. They will each receive $101,500.
After this year’s grants are given away, the organization will have given away $570,000 since 2014.
These organizations are this year’s semifinalists:
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
• Bridges of Williamson County
• End Slavery Tennessee
• Mending Hearts Inc.
• Nashville Conflict Resolution Center
• Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
• Our Place Nashville
• Tennessee Kids Belong
Past winners include ShowerUp, Oasis Center, the Family Reconciliation Center and the Sexual Assault Center.
To become a member, women simply have to give $1,000. This can be done at one time or in monthly installments. All of the $1,000 goes toward the grant.
Women who want to give more can be a part of Member Plus. These women give an extra $100 to support operating costs of the organization.
Herlein said Impact100 opened her eyes to the needs in the community and the good Nashville nonprofits are doing. She used to feel helpless when she saw big needs, but through Impact100, she said she has an avenue to make a difference.
“The fact that we have this model where we are collectively coming and joining our philanthropic and our social power to create change, it makes you feel like you really can make a difference,” she said.