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Heather Kurland  founded "The Rita Fund, " which raises money and distributes it to women's charities around the world.
Heather Kurland founded “The Rita Fund, ” which raises money and distributes it to women’s charities around the world.

University of Colorado alum Heather Kurland has worked in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector for years.

When she read a report from the Foundation Center and Women’s Funding Network that said out of every foundation dollar, only seven cents goes towards women and girls, she wanted to take action.

“We want to put money in the hands of women who are finding solutions,” said Kurland, who graduated from CU in 2001. “That’s generally not what happens in the funding world. This is why I started The Rita Fund. I want to put money in the hands of the women rather than have it go through government and corruption.”

If you go

What: Launch of The Rita Fund, with a presentation of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

Cost: $10

Kurland is hosting a launch party for The Rita Fund on Thursday at the Dairy Center for the Arts, with a screening of the award-winning documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”

The Rita Fund was named after Kurland’s late grandmother — a teacher, feminist and role model — and raises money to support women’s grassroots organizations.

“I always felt that women’s issues were really important and extremely underfunded,” said Kurland, who moved back to Boulder in July after graduating from Brooklyn Law School.

Kurland said two aspects that The Rita Fund focuses on are general operating support grants, which help with basic expenses for the movement’s biggest needs, and multiyear grants, which strive to make grantees long-term partners from year to year.

Kurland said a large part of The Rita Fund is to also bring activism and human rights to the forefront.

“There is an absolute need for charity and aid in response to crisis like natural disasters,” Kurland said. “We’re just a different kind of vehicle, looking at long-term solutions. The Rita Fund supports women’s funds who are fighting to make sure they are included in discussions of rebuilding nations, of preventing violence against women when disaster strikes or economic and political turmoil occurs. Women are generally the most adversely affected in these situations.”

Thursday’s event begins at 6 p.m. with a wine and cheese reception, followed by the film screening at 7:30 p.m.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” follows the rise of the Liberian women’s movement, which came together to restore peace to that war-torn country. The film has won various awards, including best documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

Kurland said a strong activism community such as Boulder’s is the perfect place to gain support.

“The Boulder community is a supportive and passionate community,” Kurland said. “I want to bring these stories to people who actually want to hear them. I’d like to see Boulder become a powerhouse for human rights.”