Through the help of a grant, a national business career and leadership program is suiting up its UF team to empower women.

In November, UF Enactus won the Uncap Opportunities for Women Project Partnership, a $1,500 grant sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation. This semester, the group is using the funds to partner with the Displaced Homemaker Program, which is supported by Santa Fe College.

The program is a local branch of a nationwide organization that helps women develop business, financial and life-management skills.

The program builds on women’s strengths to help them fine tune and promote skills they already have, said Karen Sheets, an instructor with the Displaced Homemaker Program.

“We don’t negate anything,” she said. “We recognize who they are and the abilities that these women have.”

So far, Enactus has used the grant to help eight women in need create business plans and develop computer literacy.

Program coordinator JoAnn Wilkes said the tools supplied by Enactus have helped increase awareness about the program.With a staff of only three women that heavily relies on community volunteers, getting the word out about the program is tough, she said.

It has helped build confidence in women like Darla Perry who sought support after seeing an ad in the paper.

Being able to share struggles with others served as a support system by encouraging group communication. After Perry graduated from the program, Enactus stepped in to help create and market her business, Darla Michelle Specialty Cakes, possible, Perry said.

“They’re helping me to continue my education to improve my skills,” she said. “They’ve just pointed me in the right direction.”

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 2/20/2014 under the headline “UF Enactus uses grant to empower women in business roles"]

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