Transforming Los Angeles Through Girl Power and Philanthropy - Women's Foundation California
“If you have an idea for something, reach out and find out how you can do it. You can make it happen,” says Carina Tracy.

A current high school senior and aspiring engineer, 17-year-old Carina Tracy has already made a deep impact in her community. As a young girl scout, she spent her free time delivering supplies to students in underprivileged schools. During the holidays she brought gifts to families at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

It is no surprise that she is now co-chair of the Violets’ Giving Circle, a student-run giving circle established by juniors and seniors at Marlborough School in Los Angeles. Violets’ Giving Circle was established in 2008 after two high school students attended a fundraiser of a women’s giving circle in Los Angeles and were inspired to replicate what they saw in their own community.

At first, it was challenging for these young women to navigate through the process of creating their own 501(c)3, but in the end their efforts proved successful. Along the way, they had support from the Women’s Foundation of California and their intrepid mentor, Nadia Hopper.

“We are the only student run non-profit in the country, which is a very fun fact!” said Carina.

How do they raise the funds they give out as grants? Every other year Violets’ Giving Circle puts on a fashion show with student designers and models. It’s a celebration of student talent and it brings together friends, parents, teachers and community members. Carina attended the show her sophomore year and was eager to get involved and support the circle’s mission: to support women and girls residing in Los Angeles through the power of education.

“Learning that the fashion show was a way to raise money and that the girls themselves did all of the work—the raising and the granting—was very inspiring. We know that we’re fortunate to be receiving such a great education and we really pride ourselves on going to Marlborough. We’ve seen first-hand what a difference a good education can make, so we want to give as many other women and girls that same opportunity,” said Carina.

One of the organizations Violets’ Giving Circle supports is Write Girl, a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity, critical thinking and leadership skills to empower teen girls. Write Girl’s workshops and mentoring sessions explore poetry, fiction, songwriting, journalism and more.

Another organization they support left a memorable impression on Carina: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). They assist survivors of human trafficking and provide intensive case management, comprehensive services and advocacy to survivors healing from the unspeakable violence endured during slavery.

Carina had the opportunity to conduct a site visit at CAST and learn a lot about their work. She was deeply moved by one woman she met: “Ima Matul was tortured by her brothel-keeper and is now running one of the offices at CAST LA. She is a leader now. After having gone through all this training, she has been able to overcome, help other women and become a strong female figure. She is so inspiring to me.”

Violets’ Giving Circle also supports Motivating Our Students Through Experience (MOSTe). The members of the circle are often invited to participate in MOSTe’s college workshops and summer camps offered to young women and have had the opportunity to see first-hand how their funding is changing lives.

“The MOSTe girls were so happy and grateful for the support we were giving them,” Carina explains. “It makes it so much more compelling to work hard to support great organizations like MOSTe.”

Carina will be graduating from Malborough this year and will be attending Duke University. Her participation with Violets’ Giving Circle has given her many valuable skills including grantmaking and fundraising. During her tenure, she has become a leader and has influenced her community in a profound way.

Carina has words of advice for young teens who are looking to make a difference:

[quote_center]“If you have an idea or an urge to do something, reach out and find out how to do it. You can make it happen. You’re just as capable. Ima of CAST is a living proof that it can be done!”[/quote_center]

We invite you to support the incredible work of the Violets’ Giving Circle. Consider reaching out to them and supporting their inspiring work. You can reach them at

Also, Violets’ Giving Circle invites you to get to know their grant partners and consider supporting their work. Organizations like MOSTe, CAST and Girl Write need all the support we can give them.

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