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.

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Executive Summary

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.


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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?”

Knock Down the House: The Mainstreaming of Women’s Political Rise

Rachel Lears is Director, Producer, and Cinematographer of Knock Down the House. (photo credit: International Documentary Association)

I am always keeping an eye out for instances of feminism breaking through to mainstream culture. So when Netflix decided to make its biggest payment ever of $10 million to buy the rights to Knock Down the House, I was eager to learn about how this film came about. How did this relatively new film team suddenly find itself poised to reach Netflix’s estimated 148 million subscribers?

Knock Down the House follows four progressive women who made it into the U.S. Congress in the 2018 elections, inviting viewers to witness the progression of their historic journeys into politics. Just weeks ago, it won Best Documentary Film for 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Continue reading “Knock Down the House: The Mainstreaming of Women’s Political Rise”

This Gender Lens Expert Sees Big Potential for DAF Giving Circles

Katherine Pease, Managing Director and Head of Impact Strategies for Cornerstone Capital, shares her expertise on the growing use of Donor Advised Funds by women’s funds and giving circles.

“There’s a time and place just for grants, and there’s a time and place for gender lens investing, but if you can find that sweet spot where they come together, that’s what gets me going,” says Katherine Pease, Managing Director and Head of Impact Strategies for Cornerstone Capital.

For Pease, the two strategies of gender lens grantmaking and gender lens investing can play a complementary role, particularly when using the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) as an investment vehicle. For women’s funds and foundations, Pease sees an expanding use of DAFs to create new ways to reach women at all levels of society with resources to grow their power.

Continue reading “This Gender Lens Expert Sees Big Potential for DAF Giving Circles”

What Philanthropy Must Do to Protect Reproductive Rights

Staff of the National Abortion Federation joined Kathy LeMay to talk about the problems facing abortion providers in today’s increasingly hostile environment.

With the fight to keep abortion safe and legal increasingly under threat, fundraising expert Kathy LeMay of Raising Change recently hosted a webinar with leaders from the National Abortion Federation. The goal of the webinar was to help philanthropists take action to support the abortion providers, during increasingly hostile times for providing these vital services.

Kathy introduced the Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, former President of the Episcopal Divinity School and Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation. (Longtime CEO of NAF, Vicki Saporta, who put in 23 years at the helm of NAF, announced her retirement this past year.)

Continue reading “What Philanthropy Must Do to Protect Reproductive Rights”

A New Award for Women of Color Environmental Leaders

Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award will provide $10,000 to up five women environmental leaders of color.

This week, Rachel’s Network launched the Catalyst Award as a new way to build women’s leadership in environmental work. The awards will recognize as many as five women of color who are making a significant impact on environmental issues in communities across the United States.

Each award winner will receive $10,000 as well as networking and mentorship support throughout the year.

Rachel’s Network works at the intersection of gender equality and environmentalism, providing $1.7 million in collective funding grants since its founding aimed at addressing both climate change and women’s rights. Rachel’s Network received the Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership from Philanthropy Women in January of 2019 for its exceptional work in growing gender equality movements intersectionally with environmental work.

This award is particularly noteworthy for its integration of both race and gender issues in addressing diversity in environmental work. In addition, the award creators are widening the lens on what it means to make an impact on environmental work by inviting women from the arts, agriculture, law, journalism, education, and faith communities to apply for the awards.

“We want this award to be the connective tissue between the wide landscape of existing fellowships for emerging leaders of color and executive leadership,” said Fern Shepard, President of Rachel’s Network, in a press release announcing the new awards. “We hope our investment catalyzes not only individual women’s career trajectories, but the environmental movement as a whole in becoming more representative and just.”

If this work interests you or brings to mind someone who would be an ideal applicant, don’t tarry: Applications are due by April 15, 2019. You will find more information and can begin the application process on their website.

Funder collaboratives like Rachel’s Network are providing progressive leadership with a deep understanding of the connections between environmental and gender justice. Now, with the Catalyst Award, Rachel’s Network is taking their work further to address the intersections of both race and gender.


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How This Investment Advisor Wants to Build Financial Power for Women

Linda Davis Taylor, CEO of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors, shares her vision of the growing influence of women in philanthropy and finance.

If there’s one thing Linda Davis Taylor thinks there’s too much of, it’s women taking concessions in salary negotiations. As the CEO and Chairman of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors, Taylor is calling on all women to create a culture where women ask for what they deserve at their jobs.

“I still hear so many women say they don’t know how to negotiate their salary, even women in top leadership positions,” said Taylor, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. She wants to see women get much more comfortable with having those difficult conversations that ensure equal pay and benefits for work at all levels and in all industries. She also wants to find more ways to ensure that “we start early enough in encouraging women to understand their role in salary negotiation.”

To that end, Taylor recently created a new tool for young women, to help them plan early for a healthy financial life. It’s called How to Build You Financial Power and Take Your Seat at the Table and it offers young women actionable, realistic advice on becoming aware of their money challenges and getting a plan early in life to grow their assets and invest in ways that align with both their long-term financial stability and their core personal values. Taylor sees tremendous potential for young women today to “harness the power of their money in order to shape the world around them.”

Taylor comes from a robust background in women’s education. For part of her career in financial management, she served as Chief Advancement Officer and later Chair of the Board of Trustees for Scripps College, a four-year private women’s college in Claremont, California. “Scripps introduced me to thousands of amazing women,” said Taylor. “My work centered on philanthropy and financial support of the women’s college, but it opened my eyes to so many issues and barriers that women face.”

Taylor saw many women in philanthropic families who “didn’t have an understanding of the financial system as they might, and didn’t feel entitled all the time to make aspirational gifts to their school even if the family had the wealth.” Women’s tendencies to put their own needs last, or at least several notches down on the list, resulted in women not making the same kinds of pledges to their alma maters as men.

But for women today, that is changing. Referencing the research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute on the growing influence of women in philanthropy, Taylor is seizing the opportunity and providing more services that catalyze women’s impact.  “Women are more often being given the responsibilities, whether we are ready or not, to take on financial roles in our families. Taylor sees her approach as two-pronged, growing both the “competence and the confidence” that women need to become stronger agents of change with their money.

Taylor’s online guide for young women emphasizes embracing student loans as a reality that must be addressed in the financial plan, and uses language like “financial boundaries” to help young women figure out where to put their money, and how to begin saving early and often.

Taylor’s background for creating the guide includes her work establishing a program at Scripps College in financial literacy, helping young women figure out how to get off to a strong financial start after finishing their degree. “This message needs to be expanded throughout women’s lives, but we need to make sure that we start as early as we can to build in those tools. It’s more challenging for women today because they have student debt and may be working in a job that doesn’t make much money at first,” said Taylor.

As women advance in their careers, Taylor sees many who want to get into gender lens investing with their assets. “It’s all connected right now, there’s this global change with more women being active and involved and vocal, and then they’re recognizing there are so many things they want to directly impact, whether it’s with their job or with their giving.”

But for Taylor, it all starts with a woman developing good financial skills early in life. “To be effective as a donor to any organization you want to support, you first have to develop your own financial habits.” With her work with families, Taylor sees an integral part of that work as raising awareness around the issue of women’s financial empowerment. “We try to take a holistic view when we work with a family. We try to help a family be really clear about their value system and their purpose. Women in particular seem to resonate with that.”

Taylor sees multiple benefits to this approach, helping to connect the family and build trust. She often meets with family members as a group and asks them what it means to be part of their family. “That simple question is a tremendous ice-breaker. Everybody has an answer.” From there, Taylor says the conversation often naturally moves toward discussing values and charitable goals. “Those can be tremendous financial education opportunities with families.”

By focusing on financial empowerment of women, Taylor sees more movement for women to influence social change. “Chances are, they are going to be working longer, living longer, inheriting more wealth, so the power will be moving in that direction.”

More about Linda Davis Taylor here.

Linda Davis Taylor is the CEO and chairman of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors in Pasadena, California, and a champion for women’s economic independence and strength. She is a frequent speaker on wealth transition, family governance, and philanthropy, and author of The Business of Family.

All opinions expressed by Linda Davis Taylor are solely her opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors. You should not treat any opinion expressed by Ms. Taylor as a specific recommendation to make a particular investment. Ms. Taylor’s opinions are based upon information she considers reliable.

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