Partnering for Power: NYWF Grants $11 Million for Gender Equality

The New York Women’s Foundation has announced a record-breaking $11 million in funding for 2018.

“These extraordinarily demanding times call for increased responsiveness, investment, and collaboration from philanthropy,” said Ana Oliveira, The New York Women’s Foundation’s President and CEO, upon announcing a record $11 million in grants for 2018 to 175 community organizations. “Our 2018 grantmaking expresses The Foundation’s increased response to the needs of historically underinvested communities most impacted by poverty and violence.”

The New York Women’s Foundation (The Foundation) has been at the forefront of gender equality philanthropy for several decades. From 2017 to 2018, grantmaking from the foundation increased by $3 million, breaking its previous record of $8 million, a 27% increase in just one year. If the New York Women’s Foundation continues giving at this rate, in another five years, its giving could reach over $25 million per year.

Big Focus on Partnerships

The Foundation’s new record grantmaking total builds on five strong years of growth with a particular focus on partnerships, said Oliveira in an email interview with Philanthropy Women. One major partnership highlight was the when the Foundation joined with 27 public U.S. women’s foundations, along with the Women’s Funding Network, to create Prosperity Together, the five-year, $100 million funding initiative to create opportunities and break down barriers to women’s economic security across the United States. “In its first two years, Prosperity Together invested a collective $58 million of its $100 million commitment,” said Oliveira. “We will be reporting on 2018 soon and will be sure to share the results with you.”

Another important collaboration leading toward this year’s record giving was the Foundation’s partnership with the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative. This partnership focused specifically on increasing visibility and opportunity for girls, young women and gender-fluid youth of color in New York City.

The Foundation’s partnership with MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke has been another significant propeller of its growth. “The MeToo Fund is a vehicle to ensure that the momentum of the Movement is sustained beyond news cycles, by activists of color leading organizations working to prevent sexual violence and promote the leadership and healing of survivors,” said Oliveira. With this work, the Foundation has extended its grantmaking beyond New York City with the help of other public women’s foundations across the country.

I wanted to know what inspires Oliveira to keep driving the Foundation to further heights of giving — and at such a fierce pace. “I am most inspired by the leaders we have the honor of supporting,” said Oliveira. “What we bring to the table is a willingness to listen, to invest right from the beginning—at the idea stage—and to stick with [grantees], continuing to invest over 5 years as they build out the solution.”

Oliveira cited examples of organizations thriving through their partnerships with the Foundation, including ROC United, Hot Bread Kitchen and Domestic Workers Alliance. “We know it is about more than funding, that is why we invest in the leaders themselves with training, coaching, and opportunities for visibility.”

Another factor that contributes to the Foundation’s record growth in giving, said Oliveira, is the the volunteer and donor communities that supports the Foundation. “Just as we look to community for solutions, we look to them for guidance in our grantmaking,” she said.

Oliveira also recognized the heavily participatory process that the Foundation uses to make grants. “Our brand of participatory grantmaking treats community members as equals. They already know the best ways to approach their local challenges, so we ask them to decide with us where resources should go, rather than determining what their problems are or how to fix them.”

A complete list of The New York Women’s Foundation 2018 grantee partners can be viewed here.

New Research from WPI Highlights Race and Gender Variables in Giving

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at University of Indiana has come out with a new report detailing giving across race and gender. (Photo credit: WPI)

One important role that the Women’s Philanthropy Institute plays is producing research that drills down on the data about women’s giving, adding more demographic detail, including race, to the picture of how and why women give.

In its most recent research, WPI has identified ways that donors differ across race, and ways they appear to behave in relatively similar fashion. All of this data points to the fact that philanthropy is growing more aware of its diversity, and funders and nonprofits would do well to find ways to maximize engagement with donors of all backgrounds. By doing so, philanthropy as a social domain can help recognize and empower donors from historically oppressed or marginalized groups.

Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color studies the way in which race and gender intersect for high net worth givers, as well as givers in the general population. High net worth givers were defined for this study as households with $1 million or more in assets including their primary residence, or households earning $200,000 a year or more in income.

The study helps to shed light particularly on women of color and the unique perspectives they often bring to philanthropy. In a video released along with the research, entitled I am a Philanthropist, women of varying ages and backgrounds discuss how they first became givers, and how embracing the label of philanthropist has enriched their lives.

The new research also reveals a significant gap between the formal volunteering done by white people and people of color. The study notes that other research suggests that communities of color may do more informal volunteering that is harder to capture with research.

Progressive women’s philanthropy has taken a leading role in promoting the social value of inclusiveness. This new research from WPI builds further on the idea of inclusiveness as a cornerstone of successful giving. With large foundations like NoVo Foundation focusing on women and girls of color, and a growing awareness across women’s funds about the need to zero in on this population, WPI’s new research is joining the chorus of thought leaders in philanthropy calling for increased resources and support for racial as well as gender diversity in civil society.

Download report

View infographic

Executive Summary

New Coalition Forms to End Gender-Based Violence at Work

A new coalition of 11 funding partners have come together to create new support for ending gender-based harassment and abuse in the workplace. (Image Credit: Safety and Dignity for Women)

Over the past few years, the #MeToo movement has brought to light the rampant issues of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence that plague many of our communities. Mainstream media has primarily focused on sexual violence and harassment in high-profile industries, such as entertainment, sports, journalism, higher education, and the corporate world.

But the populations most disproportionately affected by sexual violence and harassment are often the same ones that go underserved, both financially and by media coverage. These populations include women of color, trans and nonbinary women, women with disabilities and/or mental illnesses, immigrants and migrants, socioeconomically disadvantaged women, indigenous women, and incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women, among others. Many of these women work in industries where sexual violence is prevalent and often ignored, such as domestic work, restaurants, and hospitality. Workers in these industries often go without the labor protections that can serve as a partial buffer against sexual exploitation.

A new initiative among some of the largest and most influential philanthropic foundations in the U.S. aims to shift the #MeToo lens to many of these underserved populations. 11 partners have agreed to fund campaigns against sexual violence and harassment that are helmed primarily by women of color and members of other vulnerable populations. Participating foundations include the NoVo Foundation, CBS, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Kapor Center, the Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Conrad Hilton Foundation, and several others (including three anonymous donors).

The NoVo Foundation in particular is known for its consistent philanthropic focus on initiatives aimed at supporting and empowering women and girls. And although women in marginalized populations are often portrayed as “voiceless,” NoVo’s Executive Director Pamela Shifman told the Associated Press that they are in fact anything but. Emphasizing the fact that many of the funds will go towards campaigns led by affected women leaders themselves, Shifman said, “We’ve seen girls and women step up with such incredible bravery. This is about funders stepping up to say, ‘We hear you. We see you.'”

Rather than assuming marginalized women are voiceless, funders in this new team effort are hoping to amplify the voices of women leaders and survivors who are already working to secure a safer, brighter future for themselves and others. Freada Kapor Klein, Co-chair of the Kapor Center, agreed, saying: “What’s different about this fund is that it’s driven by believing in and supporting solutions that come from the lived experiences of the most marginalized women. Women of color face staggeringly disproportionate levels of bias and harassment that limit their access, opportunities and outcomes to full participation in their workplaces and society.” Inspired by organizing efforts through groups like the Restaurant Opportunities Center and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, this fund is survivor-led at its heart, rooted in the belief that systemic change can only come about when it’s headed by people working with and for their own communities.

The transnational funding efforts, which start with $20 million and are being housed at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, will focus not only on domestic laborers and other industries where women are frequently subjected to sexual harassment (such as the garment industry), but also on sexual abuse in institutions such as medical facilities, prisons, jails, and schools.

The fund names its five primary goals as: policy advocacy, narrative and culture change, organizing and civic engagement, leadership development, and convening and peer learning. Funding will go towards existing and burgeoning organizing efforts at every level, as well as efforts to effect public policy changes to provide more labor protections against sexual violence. The fund will also focus on launching a communications hub centered around eradicating sexual violence against marginalized women, supporting artmaking and educational projects alike in order to “change the narrative” about sexual harassment. Beginning in 2019, at least $5 million will be provided in grants each year to projects that align with the fund’s mission. The team of donors has made a five-year philanthropic commitment to start.

In a press release about the joint funding effort, National Women’s Law Center President Fatima Goss Graves emphasized the importance of ensuring a workplace free from sexual coercion or exploitation for laborers in every field. Of the initiative, she said, “Whether in a company with thousands of employees or in a workplace of one in someone’s home, women should be able to work with safety, equality, dignity, and fairness. To effect lasting change to end sexual violence, we need to build one movement, where advocates, policymakers, and philanthropists are following the lead of survivors, and this fund is a huge step toward making that a reality.”

Donors who are curious about the initiative or who want to get involved can find more information at The Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity.

ACS ResearcHERS: Uniting Feminist Philanthropy and Cancer Research

ResearcHERS brings together women leaders and medicine to raise money for research on cancer. (Image credit: ACS)

There is an old “riddle” that used to circulate in the early 2000s in which a father and son are critically injured in a car accident and rushed to the hospital. The hospital workers do everything they can to save the father, but he dies under their care. When the son is prepped for his life-saving surgery, the attending doctor stops dead and declares, “I can’t perform the procedure — I cannot operate on my own son.” How is this possible?

The answer? The doctor is a woman — the son’s mother — and that is why she is unwilling to perform the surgery. The difficulty of the “riddle” comes from the guesser’s automatic presumption that the doctor in question has to be a man — because, of course, only men are qualified to be surgeons, right?

For generations, women have had to fight against inherent prejudices just to get the medical care they need, let alone to become the caregivers. In the years since this riddle first went around, women from all over the world have worked to dismantle the assumption that lofty careers as surgeons, scientists, astronauts, and engineers are reserved for men. And now, fundraising campaigns are starting to close the gap between women-led research programs and the funding they need to achieve scientific breakthroughs, eradicate disease, and inspire the next generation of girl scientists.

The American Cancer Society in Illinois recently announced ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer, a fundraising and empowerment program that appoints prominent female Ambassadors to fundraise, share scientific discoveries, and promote women in research. Committing to a fundraising goal of $2,500, these Ambassadors use their online and industry clout to spread the word about applicable research programs, raise money for other women in healthcare, and donate funds directly to cancer research efforts led by women.

“One in three Americans will battle cancer in their lifetime,” reads the ResearcHERS website. “It can be hard to believe that a single person can make a difference. But funding just one research breakthrough, or one study with the right outcome, could potentially save thousands of lives. ResearcHERS is a movement that engages women to raise funds that directly support cancer researchers—women cancer researchers.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has already been identified as a front-runner in feminist-leaning philanthropy. About half of the researchers who receive funding from the ACS are women, and the ACS emphasizes funding for researchers who are early in their careers or beginning early research, when funding can be difficult to secure but can also lead to significant scientific breakthroughs.

Headed by Co-Chairs Cheryle R. Jackson (SVP Global Business Development & President, AAR) and Michelle M. Le Beau (PhD, Director, University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center), the new ResearcHERS program aims to raise $500,000 in its first year and use the funds to support prominent women in research.

According to the ResearcHERS website, you can get involved by:

  • Learning more about ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer or nominating an influential woman as an Ambassador on the official website;
  • Donating to support women-led cancer research;
  • Sharing the movement on social media and highlighting women researchers on Facebook and YouTube; and
  • Sharing your story using the official hashtags, #ACSResearcHERS, #WomenFightingCancer and #CancerResearch.

Interested in learning more about how feminist philanthropy is impacting women’s healthcare? Discover the impact of a $10 million grant to fund female healthcare leaders at UCLA, or see what happens when a health care foundation, a nonprofit initiative, and a for-profit health information company collaborate to help educate pregnant women around the country.

MDRC Confirms: Grameen Loans Help Fight Poverty for U.S. Women

A Grameen America borrower with child. (Photo credit: Grameen America)

Micro-loans, in which poor people are provided small loans so that they can jump-start or grow an enterprise, are often associated with least developed countries, but, according to a new study, this model has proved highly effective when applied to poor American women over the last decade.

The Grameen Bank model was pioneered in Bangladesh during the 1970s and 80s, and aimed to reduce poverty through the provision of loans, financial training, and peer support to those unable to access traditional credit mechanisms. It turned out a that small amount of funds enabling the purchase of such basics as tools, seeds, and livestock enabled many to lift themselves out of the most desperate kinds of poverty.

Continue reading “MDRC Confirms: Grameen Loans Help Fight Poverty for U.S. Women”

How a Feminist Legend is Bringing Sisterhood to Fashion

Robin Morgan, accompanied by her son Blake Morgan, at the Paris fashion show debuting the Morgan-inspired “Sisterhood” t-shirts. (Photo credit: Blake Morgan on Twitter)

When a Dior fashion show begins amid the black ties and flashing cameras in the Musee Rodin, the last thing you’d expect to see is a tee shirt. But this is exactly what kicked off the display for Dior’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection — a plain white tee-shirt, silk-printed with the words SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL.

Pulled directly from the cover of the 1984 book by the same name, the SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL design features the familiar blue letters against a simple white background. At a glance, the shirts are a beautiful representation of the global sisterhood movement — but at their core, the shirts say so much more.

Continue reading “How a Feminist Legend is Bringing Sisterhood to Fashion”

Why Robert Kraft’s Behavior Matters to Women’s Philanthropy

Audrey Morrissey, Associate Director and National Director of Survivor Leadership at My Life, My Choice, a Boston-Based organization that has received funding from Robert Kraft’s philanthropy. (photo courtesy of My Life, My Choice)

Do major league sports leaders have a responsibility to model respect for women in everything they do? This question is fresh on the minds of many due to Robert Kraft, philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots, being charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute in Florida, where he was allegedly engaging in sex acts with women at Orchids of Asia Salon.

Through his philanthropy, Robert Kraft has funded initiatives specifically aimed at ending sexual exploitation of women and girls. USA Today reports that Kraft gave $100,000 in 2015 to My Life, My Choice, a Boston-based organization that works on ending child sex trafficking. Some might ask how the same man can be both perpetrating sexual exploitation and funding initiatives to end it.

“The buying and selling of human beings is an egregious form of abuse,” said Lisa Goldblatt Grace, in a statement quoted by USA Today.We are heartbroken by the allegations about Robert Kraft.” While the article goes on to say that My Life, My Choice has not decided whether they will sever ties with Robert Kraft, a post from two of the leaders of the organization gives some guidance on how those we can learn from the sex trafficking incidents related to Kraft.

The piece is entitled A Call to Action for Patriots Nation and is authored by Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Co-Founder and Executive Director of My Life My Choice and Audrey Morrissey, Associate Director and National Director of Survivor Leadership. My Life, My Choice is a Boston-based organization that helps survivors of child sexual exploitation through education, mentorship and policy advocacy. From the piece:

The heart-wrenching details emerging about the lives of exploited women forced to work at the Asian Orchid Massage parlor may have shocked members of Patriots Nation, but, sadly, were not shocking to us at My Life My Choice who deal with the realities of commercial sexual exploitation every day.

 The potential silver lining in the explosive media coverage of the Jupiter, Florida, case is a long overdue national conversation about an industry that exploits thousands of vulnerable women and children across the United States — and why it has been able to flourish for so long. This industry hides in plain sight — in strip malls and hotel rooms across the country, in well-to-do suburbs as well as under-resourced communities.

It keeps growing because of cultural norms that have allowed us to turn a blind eye. But times are changing, thanks in part to leaders like Chief Daniel Kerr from the Jupiter Police Department and extending to the media who are finally setting the record straight about the harms this industry causes and deflating the myth that this is a “victimless crime.”

 So, we are issuing a challenge to Patriots Nation who, we hope, will join us in righting this wrong:

Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Co-Founder and Executive Director of My Life, My Choice, a Boston-based organization fighting child sex trafficking. (photo courtesy of My Life, My Choice)

First, get educated. Learn about the issue. This is an epidemic and it is happening in our community and every community across this country. As service providers, we are acutely aware of the trauma, degradation and dehumanization that is part and parcel of the commercial sex industry. Among the young people we serve, the average age that they are lured, forced and coerced into the commercial sex industry is 14 years old. Most adults in the industry began when they were children. Whether the victim involved is an adult or a child, from the United States or from another country, forced by a gun to her head, forced by allegiance to an exploiter, or forced because of a lack of options—it simply does not matter. It is always wrong to buy a human being.

 Second, educate others. Whether it’s your children or your fellow Patriots fan, we need honest conversation, frank education, and a call for change regarding human trafficking.  Most notably, as pointed out by former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, “It’s some tough conversations that parents will have to have because the New England Patriots are in the fabric of all families in this region.”  We need to educate young men that it is never okay to purchase another human being and we need to educate vulnerable girls, boys and transgender youth about how to protect themselves from exploiters.

 Third, commit to being an active disruptor.  For adults, we need to shift the narrative and explain that what is being discussed is not a punchline, a joke or fodder for a meme on social media. From bachelor parties to business trips, we need to commit to speaking up when friends or colleagues opt to participate in exploitative acts. Employers need to follow the lead of the Attorney General’s Employers Against Sex Trafficking initiative and implement zero tolerance policies for employees participating in exploitation.

 Finally, help us heal. From the women surviving the Asian Orchid salon to the young people served by My Life My Choice, service providers lack the resources they need to support the many survivors recovering from their exploitation. Do what you can to support organizations in your community.

 While Patriots Nation is reeling, we can come back from this more educated, more compassionate, and more committed to social justice in our communities. We need to say “enough!”— and end this once and for all.

Among other sad ironies, Robert Kraft was recently awarded the Genesis Prize, sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Nobel Prize,” partially for his dedication to gender equality.

Women donors have a unique opportunity to raise awareness around this incident and push for major league sports organizations to do more to aid in the fight to end exploitation of women and girls. Funders like the Ms. Foundation for Women have long advocated for these organizations to take more responsibility for remedying the problems that male-dominated sports cultures create. It might be powerful for women’s funds, foundations, and nonprofits to come out with a joint statement demanding a higher standard of behavior for sports leaders toward women in the wake of the Robert Kraft incident. Further, women funders can use peer influence to help other philanthropists recognize the need for more funding to end gender-based violence.

Please visit My Life, My Choice for information about their work.

Link to the original version of this editorial.

Link to USA Today Article.


Relationship-Building for Progressive Power: A Conversation with Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

The Women’s Media Center 2019 report shows how men dominate media. (Image Credit: Women’s Media Center 2019 report)

Despite decades-long efforts from female journalists, broadcasters, writers, editors, and other media professionals, a gap persists in the representation and employment of women across all forms of media. The imbalance is even starker for female media professionals who are otherwise marginalized, like women of color, women with disabilities, and women who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

The Women’s Media Center, a feminist organization that aims to close the gender and racial gaps in media with pointed research and training, recently released its annual flagship report on women’s media representation, including both the inequalities that haven’t been addressed and the progress that’s been made over the past year.

Continue reading “Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance”

How’s the Obama Foundation Doing with Building Global Girls Alliance?

The Obamas launched Let Girls Learn during Obama’s presidency, and are now continuing the work through their own foundation’s program, Global Girls Alliance. (Photo Credit: Global Girls Alliance.)

When we last checked in at the newly formed Obama Foundation, the former First Lady Michelle Obama and her husband, President Barack Obama were laying the groundwork for cultivating a new coalition of organizations focused on girls globally.

Through a collaboration with GoFundMe, the Obama Foundation has established the Global Girls Alliance Fund, helping to raise funds for grassroots organizations to make more headway with educating girls. The initiative accepts applications from eligible nonprofits already working to increase educational opportunities for girls.

In October of 2018, Michelle Obama announced the Global Girls Alliance, encouraging the public to help make education a reality for girls worldwide. (photo courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

Now Global Girls Alliance is highlighting a Chicago-based nonprofit named The Women’s Global Education Project and is recognizing the work they are doing both in the field and with a compelling new documentary about female genital mutilation (FGM).

The film, entitled “Rebecca’s Story” profiles the life of Rebecca, who was subject to FGM at age 12. An estimated 130 million women and girls have been put through this dangerous and unnecessary surgery, with devastating emotional and social consequences. Rebecca’s Story was filmed in Kenya and follows the story of how FGM marked the end of Rebecca’s education and her expected transition into adult duties of a wife and mother. WGEP worked with Rebecca through a program called Alternative Rite of Passage, which helps ensure Rebecca can consider other alternatives for her daughter.

With its support for nonprofits already doing work in promoting education for girls, the Obama Foundation is now beginning to drill down on specific public health issues to address women’s equality globally. Ending FGM is one of the key issues to changing the course of women’s lives around the world.

The fundraising project with WGEP is aiming to raise $45,000, and is kicking off on March 8, International Women’s Day. Funds raised will pay for an array of services including scholarships, health education, and violence prevention workshops.

The Women’s Global Education Project is just one of many organizations being given a platform by the Global Girls Alliance, as it works to promote girls’ education around the world. There are now fourteen campaigns on the GoFundMe page for the Global Girls Alliance, doing work in multiple countries including Guatemala, Ghana, India, Uganda, Senegal, Kenya, and Malawi, as well as through a fund based out of Washington D.C., which has exceeded its goal of raising $250,000 and has matching support from the P&G Fund.

Learn more about the Global Girls Alliance on the alliance’s website.

Ending FGM in the United States and Abroad: Who Are the Funders?

An International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM has helped raise awareness, but more funding is needed to end the dangerous and unhealthy practice.

The subject of female genital mutilation (FGM) — the practice of removing a female’s clitoris, sometimes accompanied by sewing together her labia — rarely makes it into the mainstream news, so recent public awareness campaigns like February 6th’s #EndFGM campaign are helping to put it on the agenda.

Ending FGM is central to movements for women to be free to direct their own lives both in the U.S. and abroad. Feminist philanthropists have been working on this issue for decades, and now, with legislation passing to criminalize the practice, there is more potential than ever to realize some bigger gains.

Continue reading “Ending FGM in the United States and Abroad: Who Are the Funders?”