Business and Professional
Women of Maryland

"Women Helping Women Succeed"


History of BPW Foundation

Background - How it began

While mobilizing for World War I, the U.S. Government recognized the need for a cohesive group to coordinate identification of women's available skills and experience. A Women's War Council, financed through a federal grant, was established by the War Department to organize the resources of professional women. The Business and Professional Women's Clubs was founded on July 15, 1919. The organization later filed to “do business as” (dba) Business and Professional Women/USA (BPW/USA). It is significant to note that this took place before women were given their right to vote in 1920.

Business and Professional Women's (BPW) Foundation was incorporated in 1956, creating a branch to focus on research, information, career development programs and scholarships to disadvantaged women, as well as providing workshops and other training opportunities.

An in-depth overview of BPW/USA's contributions can be obtained on the BPW Foundation website,, under “History of Business and Professional Women” it outlines accomplishments from 1919 through 2009.

BPW/USA and BPW Foundation Merger

BPW/USA merged with BPW Foundation effective July 1, 2009. BPW/USA members approved a friendly merger with its sister organization, BPW Foundation, ensuring that their advocacy and support for working women and families would continue. This merged organization represents over 143 years of combined experience and offers membership opportunities.

The BPW Foundation - Vision after the Merger (National Foundation)

Mission: To empower working women to achieve their full potential and to partner with employers to build successful workplaces through research, education, knowledge and policy.

Women's roles have changed significantly since 1919. Women comprise more than 50% of the workforce, with many women being the sole breadwinner for their families. Women owned businesses have become of vital importance in our economy. Women represent more than 50% of our college student population. It has become more important than ever to achieve economic equality for women. Advocacy is the cornerstone for the work of BPW Foundation.

Definition of Workplace

BPW Foundation defines successful workplaces as work environments that embrace and practice diversity, equity and work life balance, taking an active role in transforming the workplace to be more flexible and family-friendly. BPW Foundation will focus on public policy and on grassroots activism to ensure that key issues impacting women and families are addressed at all events.

Rawalt On-Line Resource Center

BPW Foundation serves as a repository of resources for the betterment of workplaces and seeks to expand the information base. The Foundation encourages employers, organizations, agencies and policy makers to submit their research, best workplace practices and real life suggestions on how to transform today's workplace. The Foundation will add these inputs to the Rawalt Online Resource Center, a portal of information for and about working women and families.

Career Advancement Scholarships

BPW Foundation is currently reviewing how best to support learning opportunities for working women in the 21st century. A special task force has been established to evaluate the scope of what could be offered, as well as potential partners and processes for its scholarship program. The goal is to reinstate scholarships for career advancing opportunities. This could include scholarships for degree-granting education programs, non-degree granting education or seminars, mentoring programs, grants for research - or other learning opportunities. During this review BPW Foundation will not be accepting scholarship applications.

Funding BPW Foundation

BPW is funded through the generous support of state and local BPW organizations, BPW members, individuals, grants, corporate sponsorship, and other groups who support the programs and policies that BPW Foundation advocates.

Donations may be made online at: and click on the “Donate” button. BPW Foundation is recognized as a 501 (c)(3) organization and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.


BPW Foundation Board of Trustees

Chairman Roslyn Ridgeway, BPW/GA
Vice Chairman Barbara A. Henton, BPW/MI
Secretary Venita Garvin Valdez, BPW/FL
Treasurer Tina L. Garner
Trustee Dr. Sheila Barry-Oliver, BPW/FL
Trustee Stephanie Dawkins
Trustee Velma R. Hart, CAE
Trustee Leslie Wilkins
Chief Executive Officer Deborah L. Frett

Please visit BPW Foundation's website at:

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