In 1996, Eileen Connolly-Keesler, then Executive Director of Regional Domestic Abuse Services, approached the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation with the idea that Oshkosh should investigate creating a Women's Fund. After initial research generated significant interest, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation established a steering committee in 1997 to guide the funds' formation and organization. The steering committee determined the scope and focus of the Women's Fund, and shortly thereafter, the Women's Fund filed its Articles of Incorporation with the State of Wisconsin and appointed its inaugural Board of Directors.
In 1998, the Women's Fund held its first public fundraising event. The event, titled "A Year in Progress," sought to communicate the need for creating a Women's Fund in the community. At this event, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation announced a $50,000 challenge grant if the Women's Fund could raise $50,000 within the next year. Three months later, the Women's Fund had met the $50,000 challenge grant threshold.
The years following focused predominantly on fundraising and education through a series of public and private events. These early fundraising events established the foundation for the "Women in Philanthropy" luncheon, first held in November 2000. This event, which moved from an annual to biennial format in 2002, honors grant recipients and presents the "Women in Philanthropy" award.
In 2003, the Women's Fund created a new logo to raise awareness and understanding of the fund and its mission. The logo, which is based on the image of a quilt, celebrates female diversity and illustrates the varied needs of women of all ages in our community. And although we updated our logo again in 2012, we kept the same "quilted" concept to symbolize our unity as women.