Having worked two years at Westfields Hospital cancer center in New Richmond as a psychotherapist, Courtney Brunner, MSW, LCSW, realized the need for therapy resources in Ellsworth and the Pierce County area.

With the help of the Red Letter Grant program, Brunner has stepped out with confidence into a new journey of entrepreneurship after receiving their $2,000 award for start-up costs.

Her business, CB Therapy Group, will open in late July 2019 at 111 N. Chestnut Street in Ellsworth.

There she will bring her specialities in therapy including grief, loss, anxiety, depression, chronic illness and many more areas. More information about her start-up may be found at www.cbtherapygroup.com

"It was an exciting opportunity. It gave me the courage to even pursue this dream. I've had it in my mind but just collaborating with this network of women has been unbelievable. Just to help with the initial start-up costs is huge. It gave me the courage to take the leap. I don't know if I would have done it otherwise," Brunner said.

On May 28 Brunner was announced the winner of the grant at an awards ceremony in Eau Claire and received her check and completed an exit interview June 15. At that time, judges provided her feedback on areas of improvement for moving forward.

The Red Letter Grant program empowers female entrepreneurs to receive support for their endeavors through workshops, networking and start-up funds. The grant application is open to women in nine western Wisconsin counties including Buffalo, Clark, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix and Trempealeau. Those applying for the grant must submit a complete business plan and an in-person interview. Four winners are chosen to receive a $2,000 grant and $250 print credit for Ambient Inks and free promotion in the Eau Claire publication Volume One.

Brunner said she submitted a ten-page business plan which took her a few weeks to complete.

"I would recommend it (the program). It was a great experience; even just writing the business plan helped, having that as a guiding tool," Brunner said.

Another female entrepreneur from the Ellsworth area, Amber Ristow, also applied for the grant and recently started her business Amber Jean Photography. Ristow focuses on lifestyle photography, including senior portraits and weddings. Ristow will be striving to give back to her community in the future by supporting small business owners with photographs of their space and staff.

Ristow's Facebook page features her work at @amberjeanphotographywi

More information about the Red Letter Grant program may be found at www.redlettergrant.org/our-vision