Forest Park’s Silverland Bakery is asking nonprofit organizations, whose mission is helping women and girls, to apply for a $2,000 grant they will be awarding.

Peter Wodek, Silverland’s sales director, said the grant will be funded by the Silverland Bakery Fund for Women and Girls, which is managed by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. He said the fund “gives grants and donations to worthy women and girls-focused organizations.”

Wodek said Silverland is a relatively small, family-owned business which can’t match the large grants given out by big corporations, but their grants go to smaller nonprofits for whom a $2,000 grant is “a real blessing.”

He explained that Athena Uslander, who owns Silverland, is “trying to empower and encourage smaller organizations that work with girls and women. Organizations that have received grant money in the past include:

 Mercado Global, which helps artisans in Guatemala; 

 Girls in the Game, whose mission is to “help every girls to find her voice, discover her strength and and lead with confidence through fun and active sports, health and leadership programs”; 

 Harmony, Hope & Healing, a nonprofit that serves people in Englewood, Woodlawn, South Chicago, and the West Side to create a safe environment where vulnerable individuals and families heal and rebuild through the restorative power of music; and 

 The Maywood Tennis Association.

Uslander’s commitment to empowering girls and women started on a whim. She heard that Unilever was looking for six women who were at least 50 years old to be spokeswomen for their Dove Pro-Age campaign. She was chosen to serve as a model and spokesperson and “has toured the globe talking about aging, self-esteem and being a female entrepreneur through press outlets like Oprah and The Today Show.”

 “Athena found that women of all levels of success, age, looks, and nationality shared the common thread of not feeling beautiful,” Wodek said. “She felt inspired to help women going through hardships get on their feet, help their families, and gain control of their lives.”

Several times a year, all of the proceeds from the small café in front of the Silverland bakery are transferred to the fund for women and girls and matched by the company.  There is also a little box on the counter of the café labeled Athena’s Fund for Women and Girls in which customers can place donations.

Uslander started her brownie business in 1983. She prides herself on using locally-sourced, high-quality, all-natural ingredients in small batches. A press release noted, “Thirty years ago, Silverland Bakery founder Athena Uslander left her job as an engineer to follow her passion. Since 1983, Silverland’s master artisans have handmade brownies, baker bars and cookies with the same love and care.”

To apply for the grant, write to Athena Uslander at Silverland Brownies, 439 Desplaines in Forest Park or contact her through Peter Wodek at Call 708-488-0800 if you have questions.