If there is one thing about which most influential, philanthropic-minded women in Dallas agree, it is that advocacy and support for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas must be a priority – because helping the most vulnerable in our community matters. The belief is both deeply rooted and strongly held.
And thankfully for United Way, one of the most storied women of Dallas philanthropy, Ruth Sharp Altshuler, created a legacy of giving and serving that continues to inspire the next generation of Dallas women – and will now do so in perpetuity.
The Ruth Sharp Altshuler Basic Needs Fund was created in 2017 to honor Ruth on the 30th anniversary of the Ruth Sharp Altshuler Tocqueville Society, which she founded to serve as a philanthropic bridge between business supporters and philanthropists in North Texas. Her longtime friends Kelly H. Compton, Caren Prothro, and Carolyn Perot Rathjen led the effort as part of the $100 million Unite Forever Campaign to endow the future of Metropolitan Dallas.
The Fund, which now stands at more than $7 million, will ensure that United Way continues to provide grants for emergency assistance, disaster response, and food and housing programs across the region through a regular and predictable funding stream year after year. United Way Dallas currently commits more than $2.5 million each year to basic needs programs in Collin, Dallas, Rockwall, and southern Denton counties.
“Ruth Altshuler’s life embodied a mission of support for United Way and for those in need,” said Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO, United Way Dallas. “We are deeply grateful to Ruth for her lifelong example and friendship – and message that North Texas is only as great as its care for the people who work or take refuge here.”
And, indeed, Ruth’s example continues to inspire.
Best friends Kristy Faus and Carol March, inspired by the “Ruth Fund,” are now working tirelessly through The Women of Tocqueville to build an endowed fund for another area of critical need – North Texas women and children. The Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children, which provides targeted financial and skills-based investments in the areas of education, income, and health, was launched in 2017 in honor of the organization’s 10th anniversary and now stands at more than $16.5 million. It is still growing.
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Women of Tocqueville is an inclusive network of business and community leaders committed to bringing together their vision and financial resources to raise funds for United Way’s Community Impact priorities.
Ruth Altshuler’s life embodied a mission of support for United Way and for those in need. We are deeply grateful to Ruth for her lifelong example and friendship — and message that North Texas is only as great as its care for the people who work or take refuge here.
“This marks the first-ever Women of Tocqueville-led fund at any United Way in the country,” said WOT Fund for Women and Children co-founder Kristy Faus. “The Fund will be a source of permanent support and provide annual distributions for programs with a focus on women and children in the areas of health, education and income. As WOT members, empowering women and children are the pillars of our organization and are at the center of all we do.”
“Carol was the first person I talked to about the fund and immediately, she was all in,” Faus continued. “She helped create the excitement behind the Fund and it’s been an amazing journey working on this initiative together.”
And as the journey evolves, so does the giving.
“The WOT Fund for Women and Children is an excellent way to apply a lens to your philanthropic giving,” said former Exxon executive and United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas board member Millie Bradley. “They have a tremendous mission in terms of helping women’s access to healthcare, education, and a whole suite of public services.
“One good example is the work we’re doing right now to try and provide skills training and micro-financing to women-owned businesses in South Dallas,” said Bradley, who also sits on the Women of Tocqueville Fund Advisory Council. “It matches perfectly with some of my personal philanthropic goals.”
Carol March went on to explain that many of the people who have contributed at the Fund’s founding $250,000 level say they have really never thought they would be in a position to leave a legacy gift. “They can give cash now, but they can also give for the future through the United Way Life insurance policies, which give them an opportunity to be part of something that assures their gift live on.”
“I chose to give to the Fund because I believe in the power of women’s investments in women as the biggest multiplier in making a difference in our community,” said Advisory Council Chair Robbi Luxbacher. “Because when you invest in women, you help them become more financially secure women who can then turn around and use that financial security to help their children, to improve their children’s health, and to improve their children’s education.”
“During the pandemic, we had an opportunity to sit back, think and try to imagine what things were going to be like on the other side of it – who would be most hurt that we might partner with when the pandemic was over,” said WOT Fund for Women and Children co-founder Carol March. “We felt it was important that the Fund lift up other women and elevate our purpose. More than the socializing and networking, the WOT Fund gives us a cohesive and tangible purpose that is really resonating.”
The Women of Tocqueville Fund established the Women of Tocqueville Fund Advisory Council in 2020 to provide strategic direction, leadership, and oversight for gift distributions. Last Fall, the Council awarded the Fund’s first-ever gift to the LiftFund Women’s Business Center, which supports diverse women entrepreneurs. Comerica Bank matched the Fund’s $50,000 disbursement, bringing the total investment to $100,000. These funds will be used to provide microloans to female entrepreneurs in the city’s southern sector so that they can successfully grow their small businesses.
“LiftFund was founded to provide financial opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs who cannot obtain credit or loans through traditional means, because we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to build a thriving business without facing high interest rates or turning to predatory lenders,” said Tarsha Hearns, LiftFund Dallas/Fort Worth Women’s Business Center Director. “Each dollar we lend results in a positive economic return of $14. We are proud to partner with Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children and Comerica Bank to empower women entrepreneurs in our community.”
“I’m just struck by the strength of these women entrepreneurs, their commitment, and their willingness to keep moving forward,” Luxbacher continued. “And it just moves my heart to want to be partnered with them and their journey to a better life.”
Women of Tocqueville 2021-2022 Chair Michelle Thomas shared the same sentiment, “My husband I and gave to the Fund because we knew that it would provide an opportunity for the women of North Texas to change the trajectory of their lives – not only for themselves, but for their families for generations to come.
“Women are the backbone of our community and to invest in them so that they can be successful makes our community more successful,” she continued. “I look forward to how we will invest not just funds but also resources like mentoring, volunteering, and advocating for them to have flexibility with their wealth as they build their business plans. For me this is not just a feel-good thing. It is an imperative.”
“This amazing group of unstoppable, like-minded women are best-in-class,” said McDermott-Templeton President and CEO Jennifer Sampson. “They drive change, raise money, and make things happen in Dallas.
“If you can capture that kind of lightening in a bottle, it will challenge others to aspire to more. The reason people call them mighty two times is because when they are focused on a path – whether legislatively or for advocacy or fundraising – they are a mighty force.”
Stay tuned as The Mighty, Mighty Women of Tocqueville continue to use their strength and determination to lift up other women. The Advisory Council has just approved another investment – with a formal announcement planned for later this summer.
Founded in 2007, Women of Tocqueville started with a letter writing campaign by founders Ruth Sharp Altshuler, Ebby Halliday, Caroline Rose Hunt, Margot Perot and Annette Simmons. It has grown from 140 inaugural members to more than 450 today. For more information on Women of Tocqueville or the Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ernst & Young LLP (Retired)
Ernst & Young LLP (Retired)
Brennan Financial Services
Community Volunteer, AT&T (Retired)