Main Menu

WISH grants go to Gateway Academy, Robotics Program, and two community nonprofits

ISSUED: 22 August 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — WISH, a women’s giving circle sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation, awarded four grants totaling $82,500 collectively to community nonprofits Horses with Hearts and Shenandoah Women’s Center and Shepherd learning projects Gateway Academy and the Robotics Program on Sunday, August 21 at Erma Ora Byrd Hall.

Nonprofit winner Horses with Hearts, which provides therapeutic riding to children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, will use the WISH grant funding to build a handicap accessible restroom with indoor wash rack essential for the ongoing care and health of the horses. Currently there are no facilities on site that allow for the care and needs of both riders and horses.

“Horses with Heart is extremely honored to be selected for one of this year’s grants for this outstanding organization,” said director Kay Barkwill, who directed her emotion-filled remarks toward the WISH membership. “Because of each of you, we will be able to continue to transform the lives of our special needs community.”

The Shenandoah Women’s Center, which received the second nonprofit grant, will use the WISH funding to address some of the more complex financial barriers that their clients face as they seek independence and a safer environment in which to live. The center, which provides comprehensive basic need and case management services to victims of interpersonal violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, and child abuse, has served the area for over 30 years.

Historically funded through the state of West Virginia, Gateway Academy, a Shepherd learning project winner, has been a cornerstone of the Shepherd experience for more than a quarter of a century. With this state funding now exhausted, the Gateway Academy will utilize the WISH grant to continue to provide the weeklong intensive, pre-college residential program for rising ninth graders in the Appalachian region to inspire them to pursue higher education.

Through the final Shepherd learning project WISH grant, the Computer Science, Mathematics, and Engineering department will implement a robotics curriculum at Shepherd. It is hoped that these new courses will generate five teams to compete in annual local, national, and international robot competition events. The grant funding will also provide stipends for students who serve as program peer educators, kits and components necessary to construct the robots, and registration fees and supplies for competitions.

More than 80 WISH members and honored guests were on hand to celebrate the grant awardees, including WISH member and Shepherd alumna Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, president of Shepherd University.

“As a member of WISH, I was thrilled to review the ballot and cast my vote,” said President Hendrix, who praised the finalists for addressing important issues and needs and providing creative and effective solutions. “WISH is providing new opportunities for positive changes through informed philanthropy.”

WISH is a women’s giving circle created by the Women for Shepherd University organization and sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation. WISH inspires, educates, and develops the potential of women’s philanthropy through high-impact grant-making. Members pool their $500 annual contribution, which is then divided between the grant entities. A one-woman, one-vote process determines the grant recipients in each category. Membership for 2016 is being accepted until December 31.

To learn more about becoming a member of WISH or about the organization, visit, or contact Meg Peterson at 304-876-5021 or email

— 30 —