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Women-only nonprofit group pools its members’ dues for grant money

What if you could make a difference and help a cause in a big way — a $100,000 big way? Impact Las Vegas plans to do just that.

The women-only nonprofit group is set to select a nonprofit in June to receive its initial grant of $13,000. Letters of inquiry are due Feb. 14.

Impact Las Vegas pools its members’ $1,000 annual dues and then gives the money to a deserving nonprofit. This is the group’s first year, so the $13,000 represents its 13 members. The ultimate goal is to hand out a yearly $100,000 grant.

“By combining them (the dues), we can give a bigger grant than any one of us could do on our own,” said founder Maureen Romito of Summerlin. “None of us have to be in the position (on par with) Elaine Wynn or Melinda Gates or any of those kinds of people.”

Last year, Impact Las Vegas partnered with an art show at a gallery and wine tasting event. Marty Walsh, owner and curator of Trifecta Gallery in The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., said the art event was well-attended. When she heard of the concept behind Impact Las Vegas, she said she thought “it was tremendous. It’s that whole ‘Don’t think of yourself as a drop in the ocean but think of yourself as many drops in a bucket that makes a big impact.’ It really is about making a difference (for) another social group.”

When it’s time to decide which nonprofit to benefit, Romito said the worthiness of the chosen charity will be taken into consideration, and it would have to fit into one of these categories — cultural, educational, environmental, family-oriented or health/wellness.

She said women are tougher when it comes to decisions on what to do with their hard-earned money, and that means they are good stewards.

The $1,000 dues may sound like a lot, but it is manageable for many, Romito said, working out to about $40 a paycheck.

“One of the things I wanted to do was to give back,” she said of why she began the organization. “But there were so many charities, so many good causes, I just felt all my (efforts) were being scattered in different directions. My husband … heard about this woman Rebecca Powers in Texas doing something with Impact Austin.”

Romito said following that city’s model meant she wasn’t “reinventing the wheel” and that helped her set up Impact Las Vegas in just nine months.

Impact Austin has more than 500 members, enabling it to give five $100,000 grants every year. That city has a population of about 842,000. Las Vegas has about 596,000, but when combined with Clark County, that number jumps to 2 million. Numbers like that help boost Romito’s vision of success.

She said she hopes to hand out a $100,000 award for 2015. The long-term goal is even loftier — giving out five grants a year, each worth $100,000, as Austin does.

Besides contributing $1,000 a year, all members have to do is vote on which charity gets the grant.

“I was amazed to learn how many nonprofits there are here in Southern Nevada,” Romito said. “Many, you never hear about. It’s not because they’re not doing phenomenal work, it’s just that they get buried in all the noise that’s going on … I wanted to be able to say I knew what happened to the money I gave. So often you give to a charity, and that’s great, but you don’t see what they do with it.”

To see that the money is used wisely, Impact Las Vegas plans to release portions of the grant money as the chosen charity meets pre-determined milestones. The money would have to be used within two years. Not meeting the milestones means forfeiting the remainder of the grant, which then goes back to Impact Las Vegas for its next grant.

Impact Las Vegas has yet to shore up details for a planned luncheon this summer. For more information, visit impact-lv.org.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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