In 2004 a small group of women created history in Miami. They saw a need for an organization that would specifically address the needs of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in South Florida. Their vision became reality. While the idea for a non profit organization was conceived by Alicia Apfel; Alicia joined forces with Alison Burgos who created and produced the famous annual Aqua Girl Charity Festival after having produced the successful fundraising event, Sweet Charity.
The revenue from Aqua Girl in turn provided the funding for the philanthropic work of the Aqua Foundation for Women to be carried out. Robin Schwartz, Cindy Brown, Elizabeth Schwartz, Vivian La Madrid, Martha Sternberg joined Alicia and Alison on the original board and the Aqua Foundation for Women was created!
The initial revenue from Aqua Girl went to build a reserve that enabled the Aqua Foundation for Women to start a small grants program. In 2007 the scholarship program was added. The first few years of giving totaled $152,000. Since then, the foundation’s giving has doubled in grants and scholarships to support the wellness and equality of members of the LBT community. In addition, the Aqua Foundation for Women is leading, building and transforming the community in South Florida in many other ways with programs like the LGBTQ Youth Homeless Initiative where AFW partnered with the Miami Foundation and Our Fund to grant hundreds of thousands of dollars for LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Presently, aside from awarding grants and scholarships, programming such as Trans Con takes place each year, as well as an Aqua Scholars Leadership Conference, partnerships with other non-profits, and community building through providing a space for people to participate in our philanthropic work, by volunteering on a committee or at an event, or by mentoring a scholar or by donating to the foundation.