On June 10th, an authoritative voice leading the resistance and challenging both the left and right, Joy-Ann Reid, will receive the George Curry Drum Major for Justice Award for Excellence in Journalism.
The award ceremony, Say Her Name: 20 Years of Intersectionality in Action, will be hosted by Kimberlee Crenshaw, co-founder of AAPF and professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA. Crenshaw is also a major figure in the movement to fund philanthropy specifically for women and girls of color.
The ceremony will also mark the 20th anniversary for AAPF, and will include playwright/activist Eve Ensler, as well as Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN-5), who has been a supporter of the rights of Muslim Americans and received the Utne Reader’s Visionary Award in 2011 for his work.
As the host of “AM Joy” on MSNBC and a columnist for The Daily Beast, Reid has been critical of both liberal and conservative politicians and has used her platform to combat injustices against vulnerable communities.
In her recent book Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide, Reid calls out the Democrats’ reluctance to more directly address issues of race. Since the Trump administration took office, Reid has been a major leader in providing journalism that highlights the new President’s regressive policies.
“Joy-Ann Reid’s work to amplify the voices of Black women leaders through the Reid Report and The Grio is both necessary and inspiring,” said Crenshaw, in a press release announcing the award.
Recent initiatives by the AAPF have included: #SayHerName, which responded to the deaths of young African-American men by calling attention to the ongoing violence against black women, and #HerDreamedDeferred, a week long series of panels and discussions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles which highlighted black women and girls’ experiences.
The AAPF journalism award is named for George E. Curry, who passed away in 2016. Curry was “the embodiment of journalistic integrity, committing his career to advancing civil rights” through his immense body of writing for Black newspapers nationally. Curry, like Reid, was also known for challenging and critiquing political leadership on both the left and right.
As every day brings new questions regarding the rights and protections of marginalized populations in the U.S., word of an additional fund that will support progressive rights for women of color and transgender folks is heartening news.
Today, Groundswell Fund announced the funding of a new grassroots organizing effort that will be led by women of color and transgender people of color.
The new funding stream, dubbed the Liberation Fund, will “aim to ensure reproductive and gender justice by supporting women of color,” according to a press release announcing its launch.
Groundswell describes itself as the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement. Headquartered in Oakland, CA, the organization provides leadership in the effort to hold public officials accountable at the local level for their responsibility to protect the rights of all people. In the age of Trump, this kind of accountability is more important than ever.
Two marginalized groups that face the greatest danger from a government enacting white supremacist and misogynist policies are women of color and transgender people of color. With an initial deployment of $500,000 in funding, the Liberation Fund will begin the process of identifying its first grantees. A panel of 15 advisors, all prominent women of color leaders coming from a broad array of sectors, will guide the fund.
“Millions of Americans are hungry for leadership that ignites our political imagination and offers clear, concrete pathways forward,” said Fund Advisor Linda Sarsour and CEO of MPower Change. Sarsour called on funders and donors to “meet that level of boldness in their giving strategies” by further empowering women of color and LGBTQ people.
Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and another of the fund’s advisors added, “To elevate women of color and trans people of color at a time when our communities are under extreme duress is not only smart, but essential for our survival. There’s never been a better time for donors and funders to put their money directly where change is happening.”
Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Fund’s Executive Director, put it this way: “The greatest force in any fight against fascism is solidarity. The Trump Administration is trying to divide us. If there is one thing that grassroots organizing efforts run by women of color and trans people of color understand better than anyone else, it’s that, as Audre Lorde once said, none of us live single-issue lives. Our fates are intertwined.”
The first grants from the new Liberation Fund are scheduled to be awarded in summer 2017.
Full list of the Fund’s Advisors:
Ai-Jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Alicia Garza, National Domestic Workers Alliance & Black Lives Matter
Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Bamby Salcedo, The TransLatin@ Coalition
Charlene Sinclair, Center for Community Change
Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Chrissie Castro, Native Voice Network
Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
Elle Hearns, Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Isa Noyola, Transgender Law Center
Linda Sarsour, Mpower Change
Mary Hooks, Southerners On New Ground
Miya Yoshitani, Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Sarita Gupta, Jobs With Justice
Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) United
“The Administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school,” said Heather Nauert, of the Trump Administration’s State Department, referring to Let Girls Learn. “We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so.”
Hmmmm. Confused much?
Let Girls Learn was a collaboration with the Peace Corp, which, because of its branding, “enabled the Peace Corps to raise $3 million in funding for Let Girls Learn in a year and a half,” said Tina Tschen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff.
The name of the program itself, the branding, is an important part of the strategy. Ending the name will seriously disable the program.
I wonder what they will change the name to. Keep Girls Down? Shut Girls Up? Let Girls Die?
Of the $71.4 trillion dollars controlled by the asset management industry, only 1.1 percent of total assets under management are with firms owned by women and minorities.
You heard that right. Although the number of firms that are women- or minority-owned can range from 3 to 9% across the four different asset categories in the industry, assets controlled by those firms account for only 1.1% of all assets under management.
A press release from the Knight Foundation, which commissioned the study, states that this is the most in-depth study to date about ownership diversity in asset management. Additional analysis revealed that the 1.1% managed by women and minorities had no difference in performance from the 98.9% non-diverse asset management industry.
“While diverse-owned firms have grown in representation in recent years, the growth has been moderate and has not uniformly occurred across all asset classes,” states the report’s conclusions.
How did the Knight Foundation come to study asset diversity? Quite naturally. The study grew out of the Knight Foundation’s own efforts to diversity its endowment. Over the past decade, Knight moved 22 percent of its endowment — a total of $472 million dollars — into management by women- and minority-owned firms.
“This study, and our experience, confirm that there is no legitimate reason not to invest with diverse asset managers in the 21st century,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.
The study was led by Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School, and the Bella Research Group. Lerner is Chair of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking.
Things are really coming together for women’s funds and gender lens investing, as this new report details.
The new report is written by Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute, Ms. Foundation President Teresa Younger, and Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women.
I have not read the report in total yet, but from my first foray in, I am really excited to see how these advanced thinkers and leaders are putting ideas together and finding new synergy for social change and finance. This is powerful stuff!
The report is written using architectural design as an extended metaphor for how to integrate the different sectors of finance, women’s funds, and social change theory. Combining these three components, the report then makes practical suggestions about how to influence issues like domestic violence, the gender wage gap, and climate change.
For example, the paper tackles research questions such as “How viable is it to source investment opportunities through women’s funds’ current grant making process?”
Then it goes on to provide detailed steps for how to do this, using the Global Fund for Women as an example, which tested a pilot for this:
The Global Fund for Women pilot tested this approach by:
Reviewing 4,650 applications in the grant-making database
Identifying 260 research participants through keyword search
Collecting 135 responses to an online survey to assess potential investment opportunities
Identifying 16 potential candidates for follow-up interviews by analysing the survey results
Completing interviews and profiling 13 grantees, mapping the type and amount of capital that would be relevant to their work.
For more details on the findings contact Liz Schaffer at the Global Fund for Women.
Wow! I will definitely be following up with Liz Schaffer to hear more about this.
The research paper then goes on to provide detailed “floor plans” for how to create social change by melding gender lens investing with the philanthropy of women’s funds in different ways. Here is part of the “floor plan” for addressing domestic violence:
Channel Resources to Enterprises and Investment Opportunities: Move capital to efforts to support response to domestic violence or to enterprises that address the underlying causes of domestic violence
Advocate for Gender Analysis in Finance: Assign value of an investment’s potential risk or return, drawn from data patterns, around domestic violence in industries and sectors within a geography
Realign Power Through Structures and Terms: Employ specific structures to shape incentives and deterrents for businesses to respond to their own practices that may be encouraging or could be preventing domestic violence.
I am going back to reading, and I encourage everyone in the women’s philanthropy realm to do the same. Full report here.
“The more that philanthropy can do to encourage and support women in running for office, the better,” says Kate Coyne-McCoy, CEO of The Campaign Fixer, who has spent much of her career trying to bring more women into American politics. Coyne-McCoy has trained over 9,000 women to run for office, and she has a message for philanthropy.
“Do more politically, period,” she said in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women, when asked what her message would be to progressive women donors and their allies. “Until you make an investment in the electoral and political process, you’re never going to see the change you want.”
In particular Coyne-McCoy is looking for philanthropy to help fund research into why more of the women who go through trainings to run for office, don’t subsequently take the leap. “The knowledge about this is old. They say it’s because women aren’t being asked to run, but that’s not the reason. Women are being asked.”
And the reason is also not because women don’t win, because that’s simply not the case. Research from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has highlighted the fact that when women run, they win office at the same rate as men. It’s getting them into the race that is still the problem.
But that problem might be getting better. In the wake of Trump’s victory, Coyne-McCoy has seen an immediate increase in women wanting to get trained in running for office. A training she recently did at the University of Connecticut was over capacity, and “that’s just one example of ten that I could give you about the increasingly level of activity for women in attending trainings to run for office.”
Who are some of the funders who are supporting women getting into politics? There are a variety of funders who support this work, including corporate funders, family foundations, and women’s funds.
But the bottom line is: Not enough funders focus their capacity to influence the electoral process. By highlighting the organizations and funders below, we hope to encourage more women to step fully into their power in this arguably underfunded space.
The Organizations and Funders
There are a growing number of organizations and initiatives working to get more women into politics. A review of the Foundation Center’s 990 database helps turn up some of the funders of those organizations. Let’s take a look at some of the organizations and funders trying to move more women into politics.
She Should Run
Started in 2008, She Should Run has evolved into an organization with $445,000 in gross receipts in 2015. Founded by Erin Cutraro, the organization works to get women on a path to run for office with guidance, support, and educational resources.
One of the repeat funders for She Should Run is The Green Fund out of New York, which gave the organization a $70,000 grant in 2014 and two $25,000 grants in 2015 and 2016. The McIntosh Foundation is another repeat funder of She Should Run, with $20,000 donations in both 2014 and 2015. Another important repeat funder of She Should Run is the Embrey Family Foundation, which provided a $65,000 grant in 2012 and a $60,000 grant in 2013.
She Should Run counts among its corporate supporters such big names as Facebook, Deloitte, PwC, Comcast, Caesar’s Palace, and Walgreens. An example of a recent grant from a corporate foundation is PG&E Corporation Foundation, which provided a $20,000 grant in 2015.
Vote, Run, Lead (VRL)
VRL is also seeing a big uptick in interest from women wanting to push back against the Trump presidency. After the election, Erin Vilardi, Founder of VRL, saw enrollment in an online workshop on how to run for office jump from a usual of about 50 to over 1000.
VRL has received substantial support from the Dobkin Family Foundation, which provided a $50,000 grant on 3/30/2015 and another $50,000 on 7/3/2015. VRL also received a $160,000 grant from Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 2015. The Harnisch Foundation (theHF), one of our lead sponsors at Philanthropy Women, is also a supporter of VRL, making $30,000 in grants to the organization.
Founded in 2007, Running Start is a 501(c)3 that developed out of the non-partisan Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), which aimed to get more women to run for federal office. Running Start supports getting young women into politics in a number of ways, and has received financial supports from Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, and Qualcomm to name just a few of the corporations helping to fund this organization.
One of Running Start’s programs, Elect Her: Campus Women Win, was started with a $100,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation. Elect Her specializes in training college women to run for student government as the on-ramp to a career in politics.
Women’s Campaign Fund
Women’s Campaign Fund was one of the earliest non-partisan organizations providing resources for women to win political office. It has an associated Women’s Campaign Fund PAC which also brings in funds. In terms of funder information in the 990’s for the Women’s Campaign Fund, it was pretty scant, but one funder that comes up in the Foundation Center’s records as having made multiple donations to The Women’s Campaign Fund is the D.J. McManus Fund, which donated $6,639 to The Women’s Campaign Fund in 2012 and another $7,000 in 2014.
Women Donors Network’s Reflective Democracy Campaign
A strategic initiative of the Women Donors Network, the Reflective Democracy Campaign set out to be one of the major clearinghouses for data on the gender gap in U.S. politics. This campaign has a number of components including researching, communication, and grantmaking. With its website, Who Leads Us?, this campaign provides a breakdown of the representation data for every state, showing how many women and people of color are in elected office. Knowing the status of the problem is, of course, the first step to fixing it, so Who Leads Us is an essential tool in fighting for more equality in politics.
One of the newest efforts to dive into this issue is Girl Represent, which is running workshops for girls of color that encourage civic participation. Awesome Without Borders, a program of Harnisch Foundation, recently provided a $1000 to Girl Represent to fund expansion of their workshops for girls.
There are also several non-charitable organizations that are working to get more women into politics. One of the oldest and most revered of these is EMILY’s List, a political action committee formed in 1985 by Ellen Malcolm with an estimated membership of 3 million today.
In fact, Coyne-McCoy who started off this story, was a longtime leader at EMILY’s List, serving as a Regional Director from 2002 to 2011.
The Last Word from Coyne-McCoy on Philanthropy’s Need to Pivot Toward Investing in Women in Politics
A veteran powerhouse in the women in politics realm, Coyne-McCoy is adamant that there will be no real change until there is political change. In closing our interview, she put it quite plainly: “Until we get more women in office with their fingers on the buttons of power, we should all expect life to suck.”
Let’s hope that women in philanthropy get the message and do more to make life suck less. By funding efforts to get more women elected, they can truly change the game.