Nationwide, women are increasingly influential in family decisions about charitable giving. Recognizing this, the Community Foundation of Monroe County, through a group of dedicated women, has established G.R.O.W. Monroe.

Giving Represents Our Women is a philanthropic women’s organization which supports women & children organizations throughout the community. The group unites powerful, visionary women who are committed to provide lasting, fundamental change in the community and to help area women and children make better lives for themselves.


To ensure that women have the information we need to be effective philanthropists. To financially support organizations that can provide a better life for women and help to promote a better future for our children. To keep members informed of the issues in our community that are currently affecting these individuals and to become an active participant in changing those situations. Currently we are involved with the issue of human trafficking and focusing on ways to help combat this endemic problem.


Each member commits to contribute $1,500.00 to be added to the G.R.O.W. Monroe Women In Philanthropy endowment fund. The investment can be paid over 1 year, 3 years or 5 years and is tax deductible. The interest generated from the endowment is utilized for awarding grants to local organizations that benefit women and children. Annually, members have voting rights to decide which organizations will receive the grants.


We realize that corporations are placing enhanced importance on women in the workplace and want to find a way to honor them. This membership could be the answer to showing your commitment to your workforce.

The installment options are available for your convenience. In addition, your name and/logo will be displayed on our website for a year under GROW. Just fill out the form and return it to the Community Foundation.

The women of Monroe County have a rich history of incredible impact through philanthropic endeavors. From supporting education and healthcare to preserving historic landmarks and promoting social justice, the women of Monroe County have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of this region. Our aim is to highlight the inspiring stories of these women and their philanthropic legacies, recognizing their contributions and inspiring future generations of women to continue their work. Join us as we delve into the history of women’s philanthropy in Monroe County and celebrate the remarkable women who have made a difference in our community.

Elizabeth Upham McWebb

Elizabeth Upham McWebb, known to the children of Monroe as Aunt Bett, is perhaps best known as the author of the Little Brown Bear series. Born in 1904, as the youngest of nine children, Elizabeth received her degree from the University of Michigan. She became a school teacher, eventually teaching in Rockwood, Farmington, Lincoln Park, and Detroit. She went on to own a pharmacy with her husband. She began writing stories when she was a child, composing stories and verses while teaching Sunday school. Her sister, who worked for Highlights Magazine, encouraged her to submit her story about a little brown bear, the bear whose image sits in front of the library at E. First and Washington Sts. Her first book, Little Brown Bear, was published in 1942, with other books including Grandmother’s Locket, The Merry Adventures of Little Brown BearLittle Brown Bear Goes to School, Little Brown Bear and Friends, Little Brown Monkey, Through My Kitchen Window, Little Brown Bear Learns To Cook, and Little Brown Bear Loses His Clothes.

Lillian Stewart Navarre

Lillian Stewart was born in Frenchtown Township in 1889. She taught for 5 years in one- and two-room schools in Monroe County and was principal at the Macomb County Normal School. She taught for 7 years in public schools and was principal for a year at Lincoln School. Her teaching career ended in 1926 when a ruling by the local board of education prevented married women from holding teaching jobs. Interested in politics in the 1930’s she served as a co-chair of the Monroe Democratic Committee, resulting in her appointment as State Librarian in 1933. Returning to Monroe in 1935, she spent the next 13 years developing the Monroe County Library.

Gertrude Golden

Born in Frenchtown Township in 1870, Gertrude Golden began a teaching career in the rural schools of the county. After 7 years, she headed west for the United States Indian Teaching Bureau. From 1901 to 1918 Miss Golden taught the indigenous people of Oregon, California, Oklahoma, Montana, and South Dakota. She compiled her experiences as a teacher with the Indian Service into a book entitled Red Moon Called Me. Miss Golden went on to write other books including The American India – Then and Now and A History of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church.  

Elnora Newell

Elnora Newell was born in 1858 and at the age of 21 began teaching in the rural schools in the county. Eventually, she taught at Third Ward School located where Lincoln School once stood. Many of her students were the children of Italian immigrants; she not only devoted her time and energy to their studies, but also their physical well-being. She visited frequently with the parents, providing money for food and clothing. Miss Newell eventually became the principal of Third Ward School, devoting her entire life to the service of others.

Dr. Elizabeth Crosby

Dr. Elizabeth Crosby studied the anatomy of the brain, making her mark in the male-dominated world of science and medicine. From 1915 – 1920 she was principal and then superintendent of schools in Petersburg, introducing zoology courses and even coaching the boys’ basketball team. While teaching she continued her work as a comparative neuroanatomist, eventually becoming the first female full professor of the Medical School at the University of Michigan. Retiring from U of M in 1958, she went on to work in neurosurgery for the next 23 years, even being presented with the National Medal of Science award in 1980 from President Jimmy Carter.

Gertrude Manning

Gertrude Manning established a charitable organization of young women known as the Gertrude Club, which also had chapters in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. The Monroe chapter was initially focused on sewing for the needy but gradually became principally concerned with making layettes and diapers for the Red Cross.

Josephine Van Miller

Josephine Van Miller was a descendant of an early French family settling in Monroe, the LaFountains. Born in 1839, she married Frank Clark. After his death, she married William Van Horne Miller. She went by Mrs. Van Miller because she liked how it sounded better. In 1898 Mrs. Van Miller began her concentrated efforts toward civic affairs. She formed the Civic Improvement Society, enlisting a group of women to tackle the problems of cleaning up the public square, the river banks, and the old burying ground. Among the Civic Improvement Society projects was marking historical sites in the city on large granite boulders, some of which can still be found along Elm Avenue.  The group also erected the monument at Memorial Place and marked the Battle of the River Raisin site on East Elm Avenue.

Augusta Uhl Dorsch

Augusta Uhl Dorsch was a clever businesswoman, establishing a fancy goods emporium on Monroe Street in 1858 when she was just 21 years old. Miss Uhl’s fancy goods store became quite successful and was well-known for almost 30 years. Her business ended in 1885 when she married Dr. Eduard Dorsch. After his death she maintained the Dorsch home, taking special pride in books. When she died in 1914, she left her home and book collection to the City of Monroe to be maintained as a city library known as the Dorsch Memorial Library.

Elizabeth Knaggs Anderson

The Andersons had one of the earliest trading posts here, located on the corner of Elm and Macomb Streets, near where Allore Funeral Home is today. During the War of 1812, Colonel John Anderson left Frenchtown for Ohio because he feared for his life, leaving his wife Elizabeth alone to run the trading post.

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