Cognizant Gives $4.1 Million Technology Ed Funding for Women and Girls

The Cognizant U.S. Foundation has announced $4.1 million in grant funding for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. (PRNewsfoto/Cognizant)

Whenever corporate funders part with millions for gender equality initiatives, this is good news for feminist philanthropy. Recently, Cognizant U.S. Foundation announced that it has made a $4.1 million grant to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).  The grant will fund both digital skills education programs and an awareness campaign aimed at increasing interest in tech careers for women of all ages.

Cognizant U.S. Foundation is a nonprofit focused on supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and skills initiatives for U.S. workers and students. NCWIT is a non-profit community comprised of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations across the U.S. With this new award, NCWIT will establish coding skills camps for women and girls, and provide training for school counselors in communities underserved communities. With an initial focus on the Southern United States, NCWIT will launch programs in areas where it can provide corporate internships.

An estimated 2,243 women and girls are expected to participate in these new programs by the end of 2019. By 2021, the fully established programs anticipate influencing career opportunities for more than 13,000 individuals.

Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, expressed appreciation for the support of Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “As of 2017, women held only 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the United States,” said Sanders. “We are honored to have the Cognizant U.S. Foundation support NCWIT’s mission of increasing the meaningful participation of women in computing. With their award, we are more equipped to extend our reach and create sustained change at the local level.”

“We recognize diversity overall as a crucial competitive advantage in business today.  Just as vital to the health and competitiveness of our nation’s businesses is ensuring that American workers of all orientations are prepared to capitalize on career opportunities in the digital economy.   The work being done through NCWIT is having a meaningful impact on the way women view potential careers in the technology industry, and their preparedness, and we are proud to be supporting NCWIT in advancing their mission,” said DK Sinha, President, Cognizant U.S. Foundation.

Cognizant U.S. also recently gave Civic Hall a $2 million grant in order to support “new digital skills training program for New York City non-profit agencies and residents.” More about that here. 

As support for gender equality continues to grow in corporate philanthropy, foundations like Cognizant U.S. are serving as models for others in the tech industry on how to deploy funding to ensure that women’s presence in the industry continues to grow. More corporations focusing on gender equality initiatives in tech will help to address the wide gender disparity in the sector.

Learn More:


Empowering Women by Changing Men: Promundo’s Global Fight for Gender Equality

WFN’s Cynthia Nimmo Reflects on 2018 and Future of Feminism

Joy-Centric Movement Building: NoVo Partners With Consortium to Empower Southern Black Girls


Progressive Investors Decry Digital Breaches of Facebook, Google

The companies listed above have all been issued the Investor Statement on Corporate Accountability for Digital Rights from the Investor Alliance for Human Rights. This Alliance wants Google, Facebook, and other tech companies to know that they will withdraw their investments if these companies do not take action to address human and digital rights abuses.

A powerful coalition of investors is taking action to steer the tech industry toward better practices that protect human rights in the digital age.

This coalition contains some familiar names in the socially responsible investing field such as Pax World Funds and Cornerstone Capital Group, but the largest number of signatories are Sisters of various religious orders: Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and this is only a few of the religious funds signing on to this statement. 

The 49 investors have issued a detailed statement calling for the protection of users’ digital rights in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica breaches and other reports of tech companies abusing the privacy rights of users. The statement emphasizes the “growing financial and reputational risks” that companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and Yandex face because of their negligent handling of user data and related human rights abuses.

This group of investors represents $700 billion in assets and is led by the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, a nonprofit network comprised of  institutional investors including public and union pension funds, asset managers and faith-based investors.  Led by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights aims to use its clout as a coalition of global funds to influence the tech sector toward better governance.

The statement issued to 22 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies, specifically urges the named companies to use a tool called the Ranking Digital Rights (RDR) Corporate Accountability Index in order to improve their behavior related to privacy and freedom of expression.

“ICT companies have a key role to play in realizing human rights and achieving the vision laid out by the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” said Paloma Muñoz Quick, Program Director for the Investor Alliance for Human Rights. “Yet, without the necessary oversight structures in place, these same companies may cause or contribute to a wide range of human rights abuses affecting billions of people worldwide. The RDR Index provides critical guidance to companies to improve human rights performance and our investor members rely heavily on its data to inform our engagement strategies.”

Facebook ranked poorly in the index for issues of privacy and freedom of expression, and “disclos[ed] less about policies affecting freedom of expression and privacy than most of its U.S. peers.” Microsoft ranked lowest of all for improvement of performance. 

Beginning in 2015, the RDR Index has produced 3 editions of its evaluation and ranking of many of the world’s most powerful internet, mobile, and telecommunications companies. In 2018, the RDR Index found that many tech companies disclose little or no information about how they are protecting user privacy and freedom of expression.

“While more than half of the companies evaluated for the 2018 Index made some meaningful improvements, most still fell short of disclosing basic information to users about the design, management, and governance of the digital platforms and services that affect human rights,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, director of RDR. “Companies don’t disclose enough about how user information is handled, including what is collected or shared, by and with whom. Nor do they adequately inform the public about how content and information flows are policed and shaped through their platforms and services.” 

This news is particularly relevant for women in philanthropy who want to do more to ensure that digital rights are protected for all. Protections of human and digital rights are foundational to the feminist philanthropy agenda, and play a significant role in movements to reduce violence against women and ensure that women have freedom to organize politically and seek access to medical services with their privacy protected. In addition, the loss of the election for Hillary Clinton, a progressive woman candidate who would have been the first woman leader of America, appears to have been influenced by the digital breaches of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In 2018 alone, massive data breaches affected hundreds of millions of users worldwide. For women in particular, data breaches may increase their risk of identity theft, harassment, or loss of medical privacy. Data breaches can also contribute to targeting women for discrimination. In addition, women globally still suffer from the “digital divide” and may lack access and experience with technology in order to recover from or address security breaches they experience.


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The Global Women’s Philanthropy Network Aligning Health with Human Rights for Women and Girls

Top 10 Happenings in Feminist Philanthropy for Mid-Summer 2018

New Voices Foundation Buys Walker Estate to Create School

A new learning institute for women of color will be made out of Madam C.J. Walker’s estate in Irving, New York. (Photo credit: David Bohl/Historic New England/Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation)

A new learning institute for women of color will be created out of the former estate of Madam C.J. Walker, as the New Voices Foundation announced last week that it will purchase the site and repurpose it for women of color entrepreneurship.

Madam C. J. Walker was the founder of a hair care empire and a noted philanthropists of the early twentieth century, and is considered the first African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. A daughter of a slave who once worked as a laundress for less than a dollar a day, Madam C. J. Walker became a civil society champion for organizations like the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Madam C.J. Walker’s estate, located in Irving, New York, about 30 miles from New York City, was sold to the New Voices Foundation for an undisclosed amount. The nonprofit foundation is part of the New Voices Fund, which seeks to invest $100 million in women of color entrepreneurship.

Great-great-granddaughter to Walker, A’Lelia Bundles, said in a statement: “No one at the time believed that a Black woman could afford such a place. So, I can think of no better way to celebrate Villa Lewaro’s 100th anniversary than the vision of the New Voices Foundation and the Dennis family for this historic treasure as a place to inspire today’s entrepreneurs, tomorrow’s leaders and our entire community.”

The Dennis Family, including Liberian-born entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis, facilitated the recent acquisition, and will spearhead the effort to revitalize and repurpose the property. Dennis is also the founder of New Voices Foundation. In 2013, the Dennis family acquired the Madam C.J. Walker brand with the intention of continuing her legacy of “creating a space of empowerment for Blacks,” according to a press release announcing the acquisition.

“We are excited to announce that the vision for future use of the property is as a learning institute, or think tank, to foster entrepreneurship for present and future generations,” Dennis said, in the statement.

“This includes utilizing Villa Lewaro as both a physical and virtual destination where women of color entrepreneurs will come for curriculum-based learning and other resources aimed at helping them build, grow and expand their businesses. When people think of entrepreneurship services for women of color, we want them to think of the New Voices Foundation and Villa Lewaro.”

Walker’s 28,000 square foot property was designed and completed in 1918 by the first licensed Black architect in New York state, Vertner Tandy. Walker was known for hosting large social gatherings at her home with Harlem Renaissance figures such as Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Langston Hughes.

Entrepreneurship support as a way to grow gender equality is a relatively new and growing approach in feminist philanthropy, and focuses on women becoming empowered to own and run their own enterprises. Efforts such as this one from the New Voices Foundation will provided needed physical space and educational bandwidth for women-owned businesses, particularly those started by women of color. Other partners in the project include Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Madam Walker Family Archives, and Historic New England.

A historic photo of Villa Lewaro (Photo credit: A’Lelia Bundles/Madam WalkerFamily Archives/Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation)


Discovering America’s History of Black Female Philanthropy: Madam C. J. Walker

Joy-Centric Movement Building: NoVo Partners With Consortium to Empower Southern Black Girls

Ms. Foundation Shifts Strategic Course Toward Women of Color

Researching the Intersections: RI’s Women of Color Suffer More Poverty

Untapped Power: U.S. Must Hire More Young Women of Color


How this Collaboration Helps Women Deliver Babies More Safely

Ariadne Labs, a “joint health system innovation center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health” is launching a new collaboration in 2019 to help more women access guidance in the birth and parenting process. (Image courtesy of Ariadne Labs Facebook page.)

A health care foundation, a nonprofit initiative, and a for-profit health information company are collaborating to get tools, data, and a clinically-validated health information into the hands of pregnant women across the country. Launching in the first half of 2019, Ovia Health will be collaborating with the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs and the California Health Care Foundation in order to help more women and families navigate pregnancy, birth, and parenting.

Recently Ovia Health announced the new collaboration, which aims to add to the 11 million women and families that the company reports have already used their services. Ovia Health reports that its “enterprise solution for employers and health plans” has a measurable impact on clinical outcomes, reducing maternity costs and providing highly personal and clinically-informed guidance.

One of the main missions of Ovia Health is to help pregnant women avoid unnecessary cesarean section (c-section) operations if they are able to safely deliver the child vaginally. “While a c-section can be critical and even lifesaving in certain circumstances, many women are unaware that it is major surgery that comes with serious health risks and should only be performed when absolutely necessary,” said Stephanie Teleki, PhD, MPH, Director of Learning and Impact at the California Health Care Foundation. “With Ovia Health making these materials available via its platform, millions of moms will be able to make more informed decisions about their pregnancy and childbirth.”

As women’s health intersects with technological advancement, women donors can play an important role by supporting research and initiatives that improve communication with women as patients. These improvements for pregnant women and families can potentially reduce unnecessary surgeries and improve the birth experiences of women everywhere.

More information about the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs is here. 


Priscilla Chan and The Future of Inclusive Philanthropy

$10 Million to Train Women’s Health Leaders at UCLA Med School

New Infusion: $13 Million to Address Gender and Race Health Gaps

Joy-Centric Movement Building: NoVo Partners With Consortium to Empower Southern Black Girls

Interview with The Woman Project: “Reproductive Freedom is Essential”

Introducing the Philanthropy Women Funding Guides

Philanthropy Women’s first funding guide is a condensed compilation of international funders for women and girls.

Now that we have gotten our feet wet with writing about a variety of funders in gender equality, it’s time for Philanthropy Women to build out some specific funding guides in the field. We are starting with a guide to international funders. Feminism has been a growing global movement for over 20 years, and now, more countries internationally are establishing funds and foundations of their own that address gender issues.

While some foundations fund both in the U.S. and internationally (and will thus appear on both lists) we hope the breakdown between these two funding sectors is uniquely helpful to grantseekers. Along with a guide to U.S. funders for women and girls, we will also be building out guides for corporate philanthropy for women and girls, STEM funders for women and girls, family foundations making grants for gender equality, feminist giving circles and networks, and feminist fellowships. We hope by breaking feminist philanthropy down into these different lists, we will save time and energy for grantseekers, so they can use more of their resources to focus on getting their applications in and getting more grants.

Although this list contains over 70 funders, it is not yet comprehensive, which is why it starts with information on how to contact us to be added, or to have your listing changed or updated. This is a fast-growing world and we know that we have not captured it all. But this is the beginning of a list that we hope is helpful for grantseekers, network builders, and people who want to know more about what is happening in gender equality funding.

And now, head on over to the new guide to Funders Supporting Women and Girls Internationally. 


Support Journalism about Feminist Philanthropy by Subscribing to PW

Year-End Thoughts and My Interview for Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

#MeToo and the Power Shift Women’s Funds Helped Create


Take the Lead Delves into Gender Parity in Journalism

Guests on tomorrow evening’s Virtual Happy Hour with Gloria Feldt include Reshma Gopaldas, Mira Lowe, and Amy Emmerich.

Tomorrow evening’s Take the Lead Virtual Happy Hour will feature an exciting group of women talking about one of my favorite topics: journalism. Tomorrow’s event is called The Real Story: Women in Journalism Finding Fair Solutions.

The web call will discuss ways to promote change that will make for more equal representation and pay of women journalists.  Given that Philanthropy Women is a journalism endeavor, I am planning to be on that call to see what I can learn for my work, and to discuss philanthropy’s current and future impact on these issues.

Here is more information about what is happening tomorrow night at 6:30 ET:

The Real Story: Women in Journalism Find Fair Solutions

Join us Wednesday, January 9 at 6:30 PM ET to learn the success secrets from two accomplished media leaders.

For our first Virtual Happy Hour of the new Year, we are thrilled to bring you Amy Emmerich, Chief Content Officer of Refinery29, and Mira Lowe, President-Elect of Journalism & Women Symposium and Director of the Innovation News Center at the University of Florida. These are women you definitely want to know! They’ll join co-hosts Gloria Feldt, President & Co-Founder of Take The Lead, and Reshma Gopaldas, Vice President, Video Programming at SheKnows Media. Click here to register. 

You will learn and have a chance to discuss:

–Trends and career opportunities in journalism and the media business

–How these women thrive and lead in times of rapid change and chaos

–How women can lead the change to reach pay and leadership parity in any sector, with special emphasis on journalism and the media business overall

–The impact of media on our self image and confidence as women

–The importance of the stories we tell and who gets to tell them–and why gender parity is a key to finding fair solutions

You can ask:


–You will be able to ask questions of our guests if you participate live.

–But sign up even if you can’t attend live, because we’ll send the link to everyone who registered.

–You can even tweet questions in advance to @takeleadwomen to make sure your question gets answered.

–When you register for the Virtual Happy Hour, you will receive an exclusive exercise to help you employ every medium–that’s Power Tool #8.


The Many Faces of Love: Responses on Take the Lead Virtual Happy Hour

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High Net Worth Women Who Drove Progressive Giving in the Midterms

Subscribe to Philanthropy Women and Support Feminist Philanthropy Journalism!

Announcing the 2019 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards

As we round the bend on our second year here at Philanthropy Women, it’s time to celebrate a new batch of recipients for our leadership awards. The people and organizations chosen for these awards have all demonstrated  exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy this past year, and represent the growing diversity and strength of this work.

These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.


The People

Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership

Tarana Burke, Founder and Leader of the Me Too movement and Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, at The Foundation’s 2018 Celebrating Women Breakfast on May 10. (Photo Credit: Hannah Schillinger)

This year’s award for thought and strategy leadership in feminist philanthropy goes to two amazing trailblazers who are collaborating to bring new funding to sexual assault prevention: Ana Oliveira and Tarana Burke.

By founding the new Me Too Fund, Oliveira and Burke are accelerating a social movement that is turning civil society on its head and bringing needed attention to women and girls. Their bold pursuit of this work has added new dimensions to the movement to end violence against women, and has helped to shift the culture’s focus toward helping survivors and making perpetrators of assault accountable for their actions.  For these reasons, we award Ana Oliveira and Tarana Burke the Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership in feminist philanthropy.

She Persisted Award for Feminist Philanthropy Research and Development

Kathleen E. Loehr, author of Gender Matters, is Philanthropy Women’s recipient of the She Persisted Award for Feminist Philanthropy Research and Development.

It takes tremendous patience and stamina to keep going in the world of feminist philanthropy, despite that the topic is so compelling. That’s why we are awarding Kathleen E. Loehr the She Persisted Award for Feminist Philanthropy Research and Development.

Kathleen has been researching and writing about feminist philanthropy for over a decade, and her writing on the topic elucidates key aspects of the work. Her new book, Gender Matters: Growing Women’s Philanthropy, is particularly good at answering the important question of how fundraisers and those committed to women’s giving can take specific actions that will increase women’s philanthropy.

Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality

David Schwimmer and Sigal Avin, who collaborated to create new media that highlights the many forms that sexual harassment can take. (Photo Credit: Build Series, #thatsharassment)

Men as collaborators was a big theme in feminist philanthropy this year. One man who did a particularly good job of helping the movement for women’s health and safety was David Schwimmer, who, in collaboration with Sigal Avin, created a series of public service messages called That’s Harassment, helping to flesh out the picture (pardon the pun!) on what sexual harassment looks like and feels like.

Because we know that media and stardom influence so many things today, and because we know from the research that men need clear examples of how to give to women and girls, we are giving this year’s Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality to David Schwimmer and Sigal Avin.

The Organizations

One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy

This past year, Root Capital partnered with an Australian Program to provide loans for women in agriculture in South East Asia.

Leaders in international feminist philanthropy like Chief Executive of Women’s World Banking of Ghana, Charlotte Baidoo, called on microfinance institutions to do more when it comes to lending to women. One organization that broke new ground in doing this lending to women internationally was Root Capital.

By partnering with the Australian Government to give out new grants to women in South East Asia, Root Capital showed philanthropy a relatively straightforward and effective way to increase women’s power and stability in the world. For this reason, Philanthropy Women gives Root Capital our One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy.

Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership

Rachel’s Network distributes $60 million annually to address both climate change and gender equality.

The need for coordinating funding efforts is stronger than ever, and particularly the need to collaborate between environmental movements and women’s movements is of increasing importance as the impacts of global warming become more evident.

One organization that is serving as a lynchpin in bringing together gender equality and environmental work is Rachel’s Network. With its project work, research, and partnerships with groups like the Sierra Club to oppose the border wall with Mexico, Rachel’s Network has shown exemplary leadership in connecting the dots between feminism and environmentalism, and taking specific action to address problems. For these reasons, we award Rachel’s Network the Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership.

Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization

The Obama Foundation showed that it will be taking a considerable stake in addressing issues for women and girls when they launched the Global Girls Alliance.

When a retired president decides to actively take up the cause of promoting gender equality for girls worldwide, there is reason to celebrate. When he is married to a feminist visionary like Michelle Obama, there is even more reason to cheer.

This past year, the Obama Foundation launched into the world of funding for women and girls when they created the Global Girls Alliance, and began collaborating with as many as 1,500 nonprofits to bring education and well-being to girls around the world. The best news of all: this is just the beginning. Imagine how much progress and strength women’s movements will gain as the Obama Foundation ascends to their rightful place in the feminist philanthropy landscape. For this reason, we award The Obama Foundation the Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization.

Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy

Girls Inc. announced the new #GirlsToo movement, which will work to prevent sexual abuse and harassment of girls.

Nonprofits can play a dramatic role in bringing together coalitions of corporate partners to underwrite a new movement. That was certainly the case this past year when Girls, Inc. launched the #GirlsToo movement. Girls, Inc. brought together a wide array of corporate partners and nonprofits to support this initiative and is providing a strong framework for how we can embed respectfulness in relationships. For this reason, we award Girls, Inc. the Philanthropy Women Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy.

Outstanding Corporate Giving for Gender Equality

Girl Up is one of three organizations to receive $1.25 million in funding for the advancement of girls and women in tech from TE Connectivity.

Corporations have the potential to play a vital role in addressing gender equality. One corporation that did outstanding work in providing needed support for girls in tech education this past year was TE Connectivity. With a $1.25 million grant to Girl Up, which provides support for women and girls in tech, TE Connectivity provided an excellent model for other corporations to follow as they seek to deploy more of their profits into a more gender equal world. For this reason, we award TE Connectivity the Outstanding Corporate Giving for Gender Equality award. UPDATE: A reader has reached out to provide a counterpoint for this award, which was covered by the Boston Business Journal here. A PDF of the article is here: #MeToo’s darkest side_ Dialogue about workplace sexual harassment overlooks threat of physical assault or rape – Boston Business Journal

League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy

With its funding of large-scale initiatives in feminist philanthropy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to address gender equality with several different strategies.

No awards list for gender equality philanthropy would be complete without acknowledging the increasingly significant role that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is playing in this landscape.

From supporting convenings of women funders to adding $200 million to a global initiative for the world’s poorest women to growing infrastructure development for women’s giving circles, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped forge new paths for feminist philanthropy in many different directions. For this reason, we award the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation the Philanthropy Women League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy.

Lady Justice Award for Leadership of Women’s Funds

All women’s funds and foundations are the recipients of Philanthropy Women’s Lady Justice Award, due to their inspiring work to help more women get elected to office this past year. Great work, women!

This year, it was hard to imagine choosing one women’s fund leader over another, as there was so much going on, and every women’s fund’s recipe for success is so different. Hence, this year’s Lady Justice Award for Leadership of Women’s Funds goes to all the women’s fund leaders (you know who you are!) who pressed for political engagement this past year, and in doing so helped us elect record numbers of women to office. This was a historic year for women in many ways, and leadership and advocacy coming from women’s funds helped make it much moreso. By boldly responding to #MeToo events and the Kavanaugh hearings, and by coming together to talk about ways to get more women elected, women’s funds pressed for change at an important historical inflection point.  For these reasons, we award all women’s fund and foundation leaders the Philanthropy Women Lady Justice Award for Leadership of Women’s Funds.


Announcing the 2018 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards

Philanthropy Women Top 10 Posts of 2018

Support Journalism about Feminist Philanthropy by Subscribing to PW


Third Wave Fund’s Sex Worker Giving Circle Announces First Grantees

Third Wave Fund’s new Sex Worker Giving Circle has made its first $200,000 in grants to organizations across the U.S.

With $200,000 in new funding, sex worker organizations and advocates across the U.S. will have more resources to address safety, worker’s rights, and political power in the new year. Third Wave Fund, a 20-year-old foundation, recently announced its inaugural grantees from the first and only Sex Worker Giving Circle, a new collective created by the fund in 2018.

This new giving circle is unique in many ways. The Sex Worker Giving Circle (SWGC) is the first sex worker-led fund housed at a U.S. foundation. SWGC consisted of 10 Fellows who were trained and supported by Third Wave Fund in order to raise more than $100,000 of the grant funding, design the grant-making process, and decide which organizations would receive funding grants, which ranged from $6,818 to $21,818.

“Sex worker organizing is both more necessary and more under-funded than ever. The SWGC is a critical new funding source for sex worker movements,” said SWGC Fellow Janis Luna, referencing the “increasing discrimination and violence under SESTA/FOSTA” that many sex workers report they are facing. The SESTA/FOSTA laws passed in 2018, which seek to end online sex trafficking, were both celebrated and sharply criticized by different parts of the feminist community. Some feminists, such as Mary Mazzio, director of the film I Am Jane Doe, which shed light on the tragic sex trafficking of children in America, supported passage of the laws, while other groups like Survivors Against SESTA, argue that the laws are driving sex workers back into exploitative situations with pimps, and back onto the street where they face increased harassment and criminalization.

SWGC Fellow Janis Luna says that many sex workers today “are struggling to make ends meet” and need all the support philanthropy can provide. In general, philanthropy tends to avoid the subject of sex workers and their rights, leaving only a tiny sliver of funding, $1.1 million for the entire U.S., going to aid and support sex workers.

Rhode Island recently experienced a bit more interface with the sex worker community as one of the state’s longest-standing strip clubs, The Foxy Lady, was shut down by the city of Providence for promoting prostitution. Employees of the shut-down club came forward on Facebook with a GoFundMe page, and comments from community feminist leaders ranged from supporting the fundraiser to suggesting that now would be a good time to organize a worker’s union and reopen with a better workplace environment. Stories like Rhode Island’s suggest there is a great deal of work to be done to ensure that women’s health and safety are a priority in sex work.

SWGC grants will go toward projects to build power and well-being within sex worker communities. In New Orleans, Women With A Vision will be using part of its new grant to organize their second annual Black & Brown Sex Workers event called Second Line. Other grantees such as WeCareTN (Memphis) and The Outlaw Project (Phoenix) will use grant funds to support trans women of color sex workers as they advocate for increased safety, employment, and political power.

In a press release announcing the new funding, SWGC Fellow Sinnamon Love described a range of projects that will be supported by this new funding, including efforts to decriminalize sex work in Washington D.C., to healing initiatives for trans and queer sex workers in Seattle. “Each one is by-and-for sex workers, because we know what works best for our own communities,” said Love.

In a previous interview I did for Inside Philanthropy with Scott Campbell, executive director of the Elton John Aids Foundation and Crystal DeBoise, co-director of the Sex Workers Project, I learned about ways that  philanthropy can do more to bring the issue of sex workers’ rights in from the margins. Both of these experts noted that access to health care is still a big problem for many sex workers. Legal access issues include getting criminal charges vacated for former sex workers or helping being rejected from housing because the landlord discovers. Another immediate need is housing for homeless LGBTQ youth who often get involved in sex work out of desperation for money. Funding for more emergency housing for these youth would make a big impact on the problem. Philanthropy could also help with create more peer support networks for sex workers, so they can help each other find access to better employment or educational opportunities.

Given the many challenges that sex workers face, these new funds from Third Wave Fund’s Sex Worker Giving Circle are a needed antidote to a culture that largely excludes and stigmatizes this population.  The unique model for giving — with former and current sex workers doing the fundraising, the funding process design, and the funding decisions — adds  even more integrity to this work.

View a list of the grantees for the Sex Worker Giving Circle here. 


An Unusual Women’s Giving Circle in Boston Fuels Social Change Globally

Ripple Effect: Longtime Expert to Cultivate Giving Circles Worldwide

Scaling the Mount Everest of Gender Equality in Minnesota


Philanthropy Women Top 10 Posts of 2018

Top posts on Philanthropy Women in 2018 featured major investments in women and girls of color, strategies working to increase political leadership of women, and profiles of new leaders in the field.

It was an amazing year for women’s philanthropy. Amid an increasingly hostile political climate, women managed to get elected to public office in record numbers, partially due to the influence of women donors. In addition, the events of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh hearings served to highlight how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are, and how far we still have to go to become a culture that truly values women and prioritizes their safety and equality.

Our top posts here at Philanthropy Women were focused on emerging leadership for the sector as well as noteworthy strategies for giving.  We profiled unique givers like Abigail Disney, and talked with new strategists in the field like LaTosha Brown. These posts highlight a diverse array of ways that women’s philanthropy is forging new ground and bringing needed attention to a wide range of social and cultural issues.

#1: Bringing on New Leadership for Women Moving Millions

New ED and Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial and Legislative Power

#2: Dining for Women’s Model for Fueling Gender Equity Globally

Potluck Power: How This Women’s Giving Circle Feeds Global Gender Equity

#3: NoVo and the Consortium for Southern Black Girls and Women

Joy-Centric Movement Building: NoVo Partners With Consortium to Empower Southern Black Girls

#4: Abigail Disney Makes Waves in Philanthropy, Film, and Beyond

Abigail Disney: Feminist Changer, Feminist Changed

#5: Women’s Funding Network Pushes for Gender Equal Political Leadership

WFN Summit Explores What it Will Take to Get More Women Into Office

#6: The #MeToo Scandal that Shook the Development World

Difficult, Disturbing Times at Oxfam, but Gender Equality Mission Endures

#7: Mourning the Loss of Leadership: Deborah Holmes

We Lost A Warrior: Deborah Holmes, Journalist and Social Justice Leader

#8: Women’s Funds Speak Out on Kavanaugh Hearings

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18 Orgs Receive $20 Million in #MeToo Funding From CBS

Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation (Image Credit: Donna F. Aceto) The New York Women’s Foundation received $2.25 million from CBS.

CBS corporation announced today that 18 organizations will receive $20 million in funding to address sexual harassment in the workplace.  Many of these organizations are longtime players in the women’s rights space, including New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and the National Women’s Law Center, while others are brand new to the field, like TIME’S UP. These grants are part of CBS’s separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, which stated that the donations would be deducted from his severance pay.

“These organizations represent different critical approaches to combatting sexual harassment, including efforts to change culture and improve gender equity in the workplace, train and educate employees, and provide victims with services and support,” said a press release from CBS announcing the grantees, and tying the grants to their “ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture.”

CBS worked with expert advisory firm RALLY, to develop criteria for making these grants, which were given to organizations targeting three goals:  increasing women in positions of power, educating and changing culture, and supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

While this is definitely good news for feminist philanthropy, some would argue that $20 million from CBS should be just the start, and that many corporations in the U.S. have much more work to do in order to address  sexual harassment. For starters, other big media corporations who have had similar issues should follow suit, including Fox News (Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes), NBC (Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw), PBS (Garrison Keillor), ESPN (Donovan McNabb) and the NFL Network (Heath Evans and Marshall Faulk). There is still a great deal of compensation due to community-based #MeToo movements that are working to address gender inequality and create a healthier and safer culture for all.

Related: New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

The organizations are:

  • Catalyst
  • Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) – re-granting
  • Free the Bid
  • Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project
  • Futures Without Violence
  • Girls for Gender Equity / ‘me too.’ Movement
  • International Women’s Media Foundation
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • New York Women’s Foundation – re-granting
  • Press Forward
  • Producers Guild of America Foundation
  • STRIVE International
  • Sundance Institute’s Momentum program
  • TIME’S UP Entertainment
  • TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
  • Women in Film Los Angeles
  • Women’s Media Center

New York Women’s Foundation Receives $2.25 Million Grant from CBS to support the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies

As part of the grantmaking from CBS, The New York Women’s Foundation  received $2.25 million in funding to support The Foundation’s Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (The Fund). The Fund will take a systemic approach to addressing the problem of gender-based violence by beginning a new partnership with women’s funds in the community.

The partnership’s initial membership includes the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Women’s Foundation of California, Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts and Women’s Funding Network. “Other public women’s foundations are welcome to join the partnership,” according to a press release announcing the grant.

The #MeToo Fund is led by Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, and Tarana Burke, Founder and Leader of the ‘me too.’ Movement.  Based in New York, the #MeToo Fund recently made its first set of eight grants to support organizations around the country working to address gender-based violence and support healing.

Organizations interested in applying for grants from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies should email


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