African-American Women's Giving & Empowerment Circle awards historic $30,000 to four Arizona nonprofits

This March, at the 9th annual awards reception, the circle awarded a historic $30,000 in unrestricted funds to local nonprofits Hope's Crossing, Pretty Precise Step Team, Go With the Flow AZ, and My Hair is Beautiful.


Katelyn Harris Lange

3/31/20243 min read

Founded in 2013, the African-American Women’s Giving & Empowerment Circle (AAWGEC) celebrates its 11th year of transforming the lives of African-American women and girls in Arizona through a collective investment of time, treasure, and talent.

Since awarding the first grants in 2015, the circle has invested over $145,000 in 22 nonprofits led by African-American women that are serving African-American women and girls across Arizona.

Giving circles invite members to each make a charitable gift to a single fund to address needs of mutual importance, and then work together to award grants to organizations serving those needs.

AAWGEC conducts an annual grant cycle with a focus on nonprofits with operating budgets of $300,000 or less that serve Black women and/or girls through their services. AAWGEC members collectively establish grant requirements and areas of focus.

It’s no secret to our community that Black-led nonprofits win less grant money than their white-led counterparts. According to the Association of Black Foundation Executives, Black-led nonprofits receive only 1.8 percent of philanthropic dollars.

“Philanthropy is one of my core values,” said AAWGEC Vice Chair Lisa Cagnolatti. “I firmly believe that "to whom much is given, much is required". I look at philanthropy as an investment. We are investing in our communities, our families, and our very futures.”

This March, at the 9th annual awards reception, the circle awarded a historic $30,000 in unrestricted funds to the following organizations. This grant cycle represents the largest grant distribution in the circle's history. AAWGEC is grateful to the Burton Family Foundation for providing an additional $23,000 in funds to the recognized grantees.

Go With the Flow, Demetra Presley, Founder & Executive Director - $5,000

Menstruation should not stop education. Period.

For lower income or unsheltered students, menstrual products can be an extra burden if they or their families are not able to afford the costs. To date, Go With the Flow provided schools in Tucson and Phoenix and neighboring areas with over 50,000 period packs—bags that contain tampons, pads, and panty liners. Free period packs in schools ensures students will not have their education disrupted by the anxiety that can arise from not having access to essential menstrual items which can result in lower productivity in the classroom or worse, missing school altogether.

Pretty Precise Step Team, Lateka Curtis & Cheyanne James, Co-Founders - $10,000

Changing the lives of young women one step at a time!

Mother-daughter duo Lateka Curtis and Cheyanne James, founded Pretty Precise Step Team during the coronavirus pandemic on August 18, 2020. Pretty Precise partners with minority at-risk youth to help them express themselves through the art of stepping and dance. Since 2020 Pretty Precise has taken Arizona by storm, including a recent viral visit from popular TikTok star Keith Lee. The Pretty Precise step team also provides a sisterhood, a safe environment to keep the youth off the streets, support with academics, an Anti-Bullying program, and traveling opportunities for competitions and performances.

My Hair is Beautiful, Arlette Pender & Jewell Pender, Co-Founders - $5,000

My Hair is Beautiful is not just a program – it is a movement.

The My Hair is Beautiful workshop is targeted toward girls ages 5-13 and aims to instill in our youth the value of high self-esteem while also encouraging them to follow their dreams. Through open conversation and self-esteem building exercises, we allow a safe space for transparency and solidarity, and as such inspire the next generation to not only love themselves but also to love each other as they learn and grow.

Hope's Crossing, Laura Bulluck, Co-Founder & CEO - $10,000

The road to hope starts here.

Founded in 2010, Hope's Crossing helps at-risk women create a life of self-sufficiency, community, and hope. Hope’s Crossing offers grief and coping classes, job skills training, financial coaching, and, most importantly, a flagship 21-week development program of emotional support geared toward creating a new belief system that promotes whole and healthy living. Through our unique, comprehensive approach, Hope's Crossing sparks generational change in the lives of Arizona women.

Catering by Black-owned businesses

In addition to highlighting AAWGEC's four grantees, the reception included time for community members to connect and enjoy an elevated charcuterie experience from Pinch + Stone and gourmet cookies from Sugar Star Sweet Treats.

Learn more about AAWGEC

“AAWGEC members are committed to identifying initiatives that improve and elevate the quality of life for African American women and girls in the Phoenix metro community,” said AAWGEC Chair Teresa Toney. "Some of the nonprofit, women-led organizations we’ve supported in the past focus on youth STEM education, a fresh produce market, mental health awareness workshops, and research collaborations with other non-profits like the State of Black Arizona on the topics of wellness and Black maternal health." 

To learn more about AAWGEC or inquire about membership, please visit the Arizona Community Foundation website or email

View the event photo gallery.