This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Soroptimist Live Your Dream: Education & Training Awards for Women®. Even though the program has gone by other names since 1972, including the Training and Awards Program and the Women’s Opportunity Awards, its goal to help women create a better life for themselves has remained the same. 

Each year, over $2.8 million of Live Your Dream Awards are received by women in need from Soroptimist clubs worldwide. Since the program’s inception, more than $35 million has been awarded to over 35,000 women.

Soroptimist means ‘best for women’ when loosely translated from Latin, and Soroptimist’s primary goal is to provide women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

The first Soroptimist club was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, at a time when women were not permitted to join service organizations. Soroptimist International of Joplin celebrated its 85th anniversary this year as it was granted its charter March 6, 1937. There are now an estimated 72,000 Soroptimists in 1,300 Soroptimist clubs in more than 120 countries around the globe. 

Chantelle Single and her husband are the parents to two young daughters. In 2021, she received a $1,500 Live Your Dream Award from Soroptimist International of Joplin. She attends Missouri Southern State University, will graduate with a degree in early childhood education, and since receiving her award has herself become a Soroptimist. 

“I love being a Soroptimist because I learn more about my community, and I have the opportunity to make a difference in another woman or girl’s life as they did in mine when I received a Live Your Dream Award,” said Single.

Applications for the award are being accepted through November 15, 2022, for the next round of Live Your Dream Awards that will be distributed in February 2023. A link to the application portal can be found at Applicants must include written statements from two references. 

Recipients of these awards are women who are the primary financial provider for their household, who are attending an undergraduate degree program or a vocational skills training program, and who have financial need. Past Live Your Dream Award recipients are not eligible to apply. Many recipients in our area have been single mothers and, unfortunately, many recipients have experienced domestic abuse. 

The minimum Live Your Dream Award amount awarded by Soroptimist International of Joplin is $1,000. Recipients can use their award for tuition, books, childcare, expenses related to automobile maintenance or any other education-related expense. 

“It is an honor to belong to a club that makes a positive impact in the lives of women and girls through programs such as the Live Your Dream Award,” said Soroptimist International of Joplin’s President Cathy Brown, who joined the club in 2009. “Many scholarships are more restrictive, paying only for tuition or books. The Live Your Dream Award is much more flexible and helps with other expenses that can be a barrier to achieving their undergraduate degree or vocational skills training program.”

Club-level award recipients are eligible for region-level awards granted in each of Soroptimist’s 29 regions. The first-place region recipients then become candidates for one of three $10,000 finalist awards.

If you would like more information, are interested in becoming a member of the Joplin Soroptimist club, and/or to inquire as to how you can financially sponsor their initiatives, visit You can also learn more about their activities, fundraisers and initiatives via social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter).

Currently, there are 57 members of Soroptimist International of Joplin, and weekly meetings are held at 12 pm every Thursday at Mythos, 1306 South Range Line Road in Joplin. While regular attendance at meetings is encouraged, mandatory meeting attendance is not required. Other Soroptimist clubs in Southwest Missouri can be found in Carthage, Cassville, Neosho and Springfield.

For more information about Soroptimist International, visit Here, information can be found about how a team of six Soroptimist International United Nations representatives are involved in global discussions related to human rights, gender equality, sustainable development, financing for development, human trafficking, migration, education, aging, peace and security.

Published in the November 2022 issue.