Live Your Dream Awards® 50th Anniversary

Let the Soroptimist celebrations continue! While we are still in the midst of our 100th anniversary, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Live Your Dream Awards®. Even though the program has adorned other names since 1972—including the Training and Awards Program and the Women’s Opportunity Awards—our ambition to help women create a better life for themselves and their families through access to education and training has always remained the same. See how the program began and how it evolved over the last half century.

Evolution of our Signature Program 

It all started as an idea at the 1970 convention when the Soroptimist board of directors considered launching a second federation-wide identifying program. The Youth Citizenship Award, which launched in 1968, was the first. Over the next two years, the board explored possibilities for the second program. 

During spring conferences in 1972, they asked Soroptimists to indicate their preference among three categories: 

  • An international graduate fellowship
  • An upper division scholarship in public or international affairs
  • An award for training or retraining to enable women to move to higher level skill  jobs

Soroptimists have long endorsed furthering education opportunities for women at all levels of the organization. Therefore, it is no surprise that Soroptimists overwhelmingly chose training and upward mobility for women with the hopes to help women sharpen their skills, learn new ones, and broaden their knowledge base—empowering them to compete successfully in the professional world. The proposed Training Award Program (TAP) was born, and officially became a federation-wide program upon approval at the 1972 convention. 

Soroptimists would have the opportunity to participate in the program at both the club and region levels, enabling them to make personal connections with award winners. The growth of the program continued as follows:

  • 1973: First awards were given with two $1,000 awards per region and one federation finalist award of $250.
  • 1975: Federation finalist award increased to $500. Receiving an academic education was included in the recommended guidelines for applicants, in addition to participating in a training/retraining program. Also, family members had to be financially dependent on the applicant.
  • 1975/1976: Program caught the eye of actress Marlo Thomas, who took the idea of supplementing the Soroptimist awards with a partnership with McCall’s Pattern Company. From 1976-1979, the “McCall’s Life-Pattern Awards” provided $2,500 in funding to region recipients (two per region), totaling more than $300,000 to 125 women for their retraining efforts in conjunction with the Training Awards Program.
  • 1977: Federation finalist award was discontinued for several years.
  • 1979: Region awards increased to $1,250.
  • 1983: Region awards increased to $1,500.
  • 1991: Region awards increased to $3,000; the federation finalist award returned with one $10,000 finalist award. 

1997: Name changed to Women’s Opportunity Award

At the March 1997 board meeting, the federation board voted to change the program name—the reason being that the “Training Awards Program” was not very descriptive or useful for increasing Soroptimist’s identity. Criteria for a new name were that it:

  • Include the word “women.” 
  • Not be too long or overly descriptive.
  • Convey a feeling of moving forward or power, and of course, 
  • Translate well into Soroptimist’s other languages.  

At this time, the board also decided there would be one $5,000 award and two $3,000 awards per region and (effective with 1997-1998 awards).

  • 1998: Federation finalists increased from one to three $10,000 awards.
  • 2006: Region funding formula changed to one $5,000 awards additional $3,000 awards per region based on number of clubs participating (11+ clubs).

2014: Name changed to Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women® (or Live Your Dream Awards for short)

The board decided to further align the name of the program with our mission statement and branding. The new name is inspiring and describes what the program is all about, as so many recipients commented before the name change that the award enabled them to pursue their dreams. “Live Your Dream” is what we strive to help women do by giving them cash awards and resources to pursue their educational goals and achieve economic empowerment.

Our Life-Changing Impact

Even after 50 years, the Live Your Dream Awards continue to thrive. Through this program, we invest more than $2.8 million in education grants to nearly 1,800 women every year. These women have overcome incredible challenges including poverty, domestic and sexual violence, and addiction. They are on a path to a new life. Since 1972, the Live Your Dream Awards have supported more than 35,000 women in achieving their goals and making their dreams possible.

Click below if you would like to make a gift to support even more women in their quest to build a better life for themselves and their families.



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