St. Lucie women team up to make lasting ‘impact’

Take a bunch of philanthropic women. Add a spoonful of business savvy and a touch of media know-how. What you have is Impact 100 St. Lucie, a new organization whose mission is to enhance the community through strategic, high-impact grant making.

Impact 100 St. Lucie, which began several months ago, is based on a model found in other places, including Indian River and Martin counties. There are more than 25 founding members; the goal is to have at least 100 before the end of the year. Each woman donates $1,000 toward the grant and $100 for administrative costs. Committees review grant applications, make site visits and choose finalists. Finalists make a presentation and members vote on the organization that will be awarded $100,000, which comes from the women’s donations. The donations are made annually and the process begins anew.

Linda Chastain, a member of the organizing committee, said that any organization applying for the grant must meet the qualification that the grant be “transformative.” That is why one large grant, rather than smaller ones, will be awarded.

Chastain is a native of St. Lucie County and very excited about the new group.

“We are a passionate group of philanthropic women who understand that by working collectively, we can make a transformative difference,” she said. “We feel that we can do this in St. Lucie County and grow in years to come with more than 100 women.

“We have wanted to start an Impact 100 group. They are successful in Martin and Indian River and the time seemed right. We thought of women in St. Lucie County who are business savvy and have financial resources to start it. My passion is whatever organizing does to improve the community and the lives (of those) who live in it, especially families and children.”

Chastain said that there were a number of things about the organization that appealed to her.

“You can do as little or as much as you want to,” she said. “You can just listen to the presentations if that’s all you want to do. People can be as active as they choose to be. Each year, the $1,100 is renewable as an annual membership. The organization is open to men, if they want to join, or they can sponsor a family member or business associate. An organization or business can sponsor an employee.”

To get things going, Impact 100 St. Lucie had a representative from the Indian River County group to speak to them. Additionally, the Martin County Community Foundation is providing assistance, as well as serving as their fiscal agent.

“They’re helping us so we don’t reinvent the wheel,” Chastain said. “It’s a nice collaboration of women who want to see other women succeed and grow and make a substantial difference.”

Chastain noted that Debbie Butler, president of the board of Guardian for New Futures, is at the forefront of getting the group organized, and that other founding members are hosting informal, informational gatherings or explain how the group can transform the county.

“We find the best way to share the news is through the media and by hosting small gatherings,” Chastain said.

“We find that whenever we meet with potential members, we have the ability to have one-on-one conversation and that works very well in a small setting.”

The group has not yet established a timeline for the grant process, but they hope to begin after the first of the year. They hope that women and men will join or sponsor members and will also make donations. They will make a $100,000 grant, but if subsequent membership and donations raise more funds, they will establish a process for additional grants. Right now, they just want to spread the word that they’re in town and they mean business.


For more information about Impact 100 St. Lucie, visit  Contact Debbie Butler at or 772-359- 2824.Membership forms can be downloaded and credit cards are accepted for memberships.

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