Atascadero AAUW Inc. is a branch of the American Association of University Women. Our branch, the oldest on the Central Coast, was founded in 1937 and serves the communities of Atascadero, Santa Margarita, and Templeton. We currently have more than 100 local members who are dedicated to promoting equity for women and girls, both locally and nationwide.
Members of Atascadero AAUW and their guests are invited to attend monthly meetings from September through May with informative speakers and opportunities to interact. In the summer we offer social get-togethers for current and prospective members. In addition, many members participate in interest groups, such as book discussions, Great Decisions discussions, and many other learning opportunities. More information about these activities can be found on our Programs page and on our Branch and Community Activities page.
Atascadero AAUW welcomes new members who share our commitment to equity for women and girls. Our Membership page offers additional information about joining our branch. Our dues and fundraising efforts support national and local opportunities for women and girls, such as college scholarships and Tech Trek, a week-long science camp for seventh grade girls held at U.C.S.B. More information about these forms of outreach are located elsewhere on this website.
Since its founding in 1881, AAUW has promoted equity for women and girls, life-long education, and positive societal change. AAUW is California’s most active and diverse organization for women offering advocacy, equity, personal and professional growth, community leadership opportunities, and friendship.
Atascadero AAUW is a 501(c)(3) organization.
The purpose of AAUW is to promote equity for all women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.
History of Atascadero AAUW
AAUW Atascadero began in 1937 with 10 members — all of whom have since died. Many were teachers in the beginning years; two who laid the groundwork for the Atascadero branch were Maybelle Frandsen (President in 1937-39 and 1951-53) and Shelley Fenny (President in 1939-41 and 1943-47).
In 1950 there were 22 members. Money for the Educational Foundation was raised from bridge parties, selling stationery and greeting cards, and by holding International Dinners.
1960-70 saw our membership grow to almost 40 members. In these years there were discussions of legislation. Today AAUW supports women’s causes and tries to encourage more women to run for elected office.
During the 1970’s we studied topics suggested by AAUW, such as women’s health, the energy crisis, and education. As membership increased, interest groups began – including a weekly quilting group, Sandpile (a young mothers group), coupons, and lunch bunch. Elizabeth “Betty” Putnam came to town in 1974. She was the driving force for our branch and the Educational Foundation during the 1970’s and 1980’s. During the ’70’s our membership rose to 80.
The 1980’s were more action-oriented. Membership reached 100 because of Sandpile; ArtPark was started, and in March 1980 the national organization proclaimed Action for Equity week.
During the 1990’s, fundraising continued for AAUW’s Educational Foundation, and the Legal Advocacy Fund was established to help women who faced work discrimination. Membership during the 1990’s hovered around 80.
From 2000 to the present Atascadero AAUW has expanded its outreach to women and girls through college scholarships, Tech Trek, a week-long summer camp for seventh grade girls, and STEM Trek, a follow-up program for Tech Trek attendees. To support these efforts, our branch created fundraisers like Mardi Gras and “Eclipsed,” a murder mystery dinner theatre, and we participated twice in Atascadero: Dancing with Our Stars with a dancer who represented our organization.
We also refocused our programming to include more mission-based topics, like enhanced economic security for women, human trafficking, and leadership roles for women in local politics. We created summer social get-togethers. And we expanded our interest groups to provide more learning and social opportunities for members.
In 2020 Atascadero AAUW had 119 members.