WINGS Scholarship

What is WINGS

The WINGS award was created and is funded by recipients of the YWCA Women of Distinction award. Winners of the Women of Distinction award have a shared commitment to give back to other women in McLean County so they created this award to encourage development in women, both professionally and personally, through mentoring and financial support. The award is given annually to a Woman to Improve her skills for a Notable purpose which allows her to Grow professionally and to achieve Success.

Who is eligible

A woman is eligible for the WINGS award who demonstrates her commitment to professional and personal growth and to service in McLean County. Past WINGS winners are not eligible to apply. Please note women applying for a WINGS Award may not be a nominee for the YWCA Women of Distinction award in the same year.

How can the award be used

WINGS awards, up to $1,500, will be granted to a recipient (or recipients) for a future endeavor that helps them grow professionally and personally. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Workshops and seminars (tuition and class fees)
  • Professional conferences (registration fees)
  • Software, books, and other materials related to the endeavor
  • Certification preparation work, exams, registration or licensing
  • Local opportunities for development, such as the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership McLean County or Multicultural Leadership Program
  • Other costs incurred as a result of the approved endeavor (such as child care, transportation, lodging and meals for out-of-town activities, etc.)

How to apply

The 2019 application deadline is Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at 12 p.m.

  • Download, print, complete and submit WINGS application form and attachments. All documents can be found at the links on the right.
  • Submit applications and supporting documents by email to (subject line: WOD WINGS Award), fax to (309) 662-4506, or mail/deliver to 1201 North Hershey Road, Bloomington, IL 61704.

When will the award be announced?

All applicants will be notified no later than June 1, 2019 if they are award recipients. The award recipient(s) is expected to attend the YWCA McLean County Women of Distinction Awards Banquet and past winner reception on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, where the first public announcement of WINGS recipients will take place. YWCA McLean County will assume the cost for the banquet and the reception (including a guest, if desired). Prior to the banquet, a photograph will be taken of the recipient(s) by a professional photographer for display at the banquet. The cost of the photograph is donated by Barb Adelman at élan Studios.

How are the funds released?

Funds will be available after July 1, 2019 and must be used by May 1, 2020 or they will be forfeited. To receive the funds, receipts of actual expenses incurred after July 1, 2019 must be submitted to YWCA Foundation/WINGS Award Committee, 1201 North Hershey Road, Bloomington, IL 61704. For larger expenses known before initiating the specified endeavor, the award recipient may request YWCA issue payment directly to the billing party. For example, if the recipient is attending a seminar, YWCA can send a check to the company hosting the seminar to cover the registration fee.


If you have any questions about the WINGS award, please call (309) 662-0461, ext. 272 or email



In 2008, Brianna Welch was a recent college graduate who envisioned a future attending medical school. But, in combination, Welch’s experiences volunteering in Bloomington-Normal and earning the WINGS scholarship award led her to pursue another path—a path pursuing public health.

While volunteering as a translator at the Community Health Care Clinic (CHCC) in Normal, Welch transferred the concepts she learned in college to a community-based medical setting. “The opportunity I had to work at the CHCC was huge, especially as I was trying to figure out what my career was going to look like,” Welch said.

This career, Welch imagined, would involve focusing on healthy outcomes through preventative medicine with a career as a doctor. With the WINGS award earned in 2008, Welch studied for and took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

“I love the mission of YWCA and was so grateful for the opportunity I got with the WINGS award,” Welch said. “The whole process of being able to meet the women who were part of the WINGS award and the Women of Distinction, and just getting to hear their stories, was a huge inspiration.”

As Welch’s journey continued, she applied for fellowships before applying to medical school. After she was offered a fellowship as a part of the Public Health Associate Program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Welch moved to North Carolina.

After her fellowship ended, Welch accepted a full-time position as a social clinical research specialist with the Department of Public Health in Raleigh.

As she continues on her professional journey, Welch hopes to continue to adapt and pursue whatever passions call to her.

“I hope to continue living out my principles and values."


As a sophomore in college, Kamaya Thompson knew her vision. “In order to strengthen our communities, we must change what we think by changing what we see. That is my life purpose: to change what we see,” she wrote in her application for a WINGS scholarship award.

In 2016, Thompson continued to pursue her self-defined purpose through her passion for theatre. In 2009, Thompson founded Only Punks Pull Triggers (OPPT)—a performing arts organization dedicated to violence prevention and conflict resolution skills in response to personal experiences related to gun violence.

A Chicago native, Thompson applied for the award in 2010 to advance the troupe’s marketing efforts with the goal of helping OPPT expand and grow.

“Receiving the WINGS award was a very pivotal moment in my life and an experience I’ll never forget. It gave me the confidence and motivation I needed to keep pursuing my dreams,” said Thompson, who received the award while she was a theatre arts student at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Thompson currently works as a drama instructor at South Shore Cultural Center (SSCC) in Chicago, where she teaches theatre arts to children ages eight to 12.

She also lends her voice to current issues in society.

“I have continued to write plays and poems that address issues of civil and human rights, particularly regarding gay marriage and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”