Frequently Asked Questions About The Gem Fund

September 2021

Q:  What is the GEM Fund?

A:  The GEM Fund is the philanthropic arm of the AAUW Asheville Branch.

Q:  What does GEM stand for?

A:  GEM stands for Gaining Educational Momentum.

Q:  What is the purpose/mission of the GEM Fund?

A:  The GEM fund awards scholarships to women whose education has been interrupted or delayed.

Q:  What colleges/universities does the GEM Fund support?

A:  GEM awards scholarships to women who are students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) and the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA).

Q:  How many scholarships have been awarded through the GEM Fund?

A:  Since 2002 GEM has awarded over 200 scholarships, amounting to more than $261,000

  1. Who are the GEM donors?
  2. Most are members of AAUW Asheville just like you. Dedicated and generous, our members support our scholarship efforts.  Additionally, members families and several foundations and businesses have become donors.

Q:  How are the funds for the GEM Fund raised?

A:  Each year we have a fundraiser – a great social event that attracts members and guests.  We have raffle items and a silent auction for services and experiences.  Birthday Dollars for Scholars is another way we raise funds.  Each month, members can make a donation to honor someone who is having a birthday that month.  The recipient receives a hand-made birthday card from all the donors.  The Legacy Society provides a means to include GEM bequests in estate planning.  And, GEM receives funds from Amazon Smile when you select the GEM Fund as your charity on Amazon.

  1. How can I learn more about the GEM Fund or get involved in the activities of GEM?
  2. Please contact Pat Ashe, Chair of the GEM Fund Board of Directors, at for more information.

GEM Endowment FAQs

What is an endowment?

An endowment is a fund kept in perpetuity to provide ongoing income for the benefit of a charitable cause or organization.  Contributions to the endowment are invested to create long-term growth and returns.

What are the benefits of having an endowment?

For a successful, mature organization, the establishment of appropriate reserves and/or endowment is an important step in ensuring long-term sustainability:

-Endowment income provides  stable financial support for operational expenses or charitable giving.

-An endowment indicates that the GEM Fund has given thoughtful consideration to its sustainability and is providing revenue from diverse sources now and in the future.

-An endowment can attract gifts from donors who want to permanently impact AAUW/The GEM Fund through their contribution or bequest.

How does The GEM Fund invest and manage endowment funds?

The GEM Fund invests endowment funds in a balanced, diversified portfolio that includes equity and fixed income components.  The portfolio is broadly diversified to reduce risk and enhance returns.  The GEM Fund’s investments have three levels of oversight: the GEM Finance Committee, The GEM Board of Directors and an independent investment consultant.

Decisions made about the distribution of funds are guided by the Endowment Spending Policy for the GEM Fund.  Such decisions are made to:

-Safeguard the funds for future generations

-Enable the maximum amount of spending that can be maintained over the long term.

-Ensure the Fund income is as stable and enduring as possible.

-Ensure that the stated wishes of donors are honored.


Meet some very special women who are current recipients of the GEM Fund scholarships at A-B Tech and UNC Asheville: Vanessa, Sara, Danielle and Cynthia. They all have something in common – they each wanted to return to higher education to better themselves, their families and their community. The GEM Fund helps make that possible.

The GEM Fund— Gaining Educational Momentum— is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Through the generosity of our donors, who have contributed more than $300,000 since 2002,
over 200 women have received scholarships from the AAUW Gem Fund.

Marilyn Kolton, one of the founding mothers of the GEM Fund, led the first spring fundraiser with a theme of the Magic Lily, an amazing bulb that grows slowly, but steadily over time and with careful nurturing blooms into a spectacular spray of flowers. This beautiful metaphor aptly describes what has happened to the GEM Fund over 20 years with your help.

You will be receiving the annual request for donations to the GEM Fund in early May. Please continue to be generous for the benefit of women like those pictured above.

Look to your own education as the catalyst for success and then pay it forward with purpose.
Pat Ashe,
President, The GEM Fund Board