Free Virtual Therapy for People of Color Affected by COVID-19

The COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign is a Boris L. Henson Foundation (BLHF) effort to raise money for mental health services for communities of color.

free virtual therapy
Taraji P. Henson starred in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures about the key role a group of female African-American mathematicians played in the U.S. space program’s early years. (Image Credit: BLHF)

According to the BLHF, “the campaign was developed to cover the cost for virtual or tele-therapy services by licensed, culturally competent clinicians in our network.” Up to five sessions are covered, and those seeking COVID-related virtual therapy can register with BLHF. The Foundation is seeking donations to support the program (Text NOSTIGMA to 707070), as well culturally competent providers to provide services.

The BLHF was founded in 2018 by actor and mental health advocate Taraji P. Henson and is led by Executive Director Tracie Jade Jenkins. It has seen strong interest in the tele-therapy program since it debuted on April 15. In a Today Show interview, Henson, who most recently has appeared on the television series Empire, said, “We had to shut the server down … that’s how big the need is.” She argues that for many, the hardships imposed by COVID-19 are “added trauma,” and that mental health services are helping “thousands stay alive.”

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African Girls Respond to COVID

Coverage of COVID-19 first focused on Asia, then Europe, and now increasingly North America. The virus, however, is global, and while there have been relatively few cases reported in Africa, the numbers are increasing, as is awareness about how to combat COVID-19.

Mr. Ablaye Sow; WGEP staffers Khady and Casimir; and Our Sisters Lead participants Absatou, Mouhamed, and Alima. (Photo credit: WGEP)

As is the case everywhere, education and preparedness are essential in blunting the effects of the novel Coronavirus. The Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP), an Oak Park, Illinois-headquartered non-profit, has been helping educate girls in Africa since 2004. It has worked with grassroots leaders in Kenya and Senegal to co-design programs that have impacted thousands of girls and women in poor communities with low levels of school enrollment and literacy. With the new challenge of COVID-19 afoot, Harriet Spears, WGEP Strategic Partnerships and Communications Manager, has shared stories with PW about how WGEP teams in Kenya and Senegal are working with local communities on reducing virus transmission.

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Vote for the G.O.A.T! Join in the Fun and Build Women’s Leadership

Plan International USA is working to build women’s leadership by inviting young people ages 13-22 to “Vote for the GOAT (Greatest of All Time).” While this acronym usually applies to football stars and other sports legends, Plan is using the acronym in a much for fun, purposeful, and world-changing way. Specifically, Plan’s GOAT competition refers to the greatest female, femme or nonbinary person advancing gender equality across the categories of visibility or representation, women’s health, equal opportunity, and gender-based violence.

build women's leadership
Plan International is helping to stimulate more awareness about gender equality with its Vote for the GOAT competition. (Image credit: Plan International)

Plan International USA—an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing children’s rights and equality for girls—established the “Vote for the G.O.A.T” competition to heighten awareness about those working on behalf of gender equity, and to benefit needy women and families in the developing world.

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Texas Women’s Foundation is 100 Percent Invested in Women

The Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF) recently announced that 100 percent of its $36 million dollars in financial assets are now invested in a “gendered impact” portfolio.

The gender impact strategy seeks a strong return on investment while having the investment itself—and not just the return that accrues to Texas Women’s Foundation—benefit women and girls. This approach makes TWF the first and only women’s fund or foundation to move all of its financial assets—which include endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds—into gendered impact.

The Texas Women’s Foundation recently announced the gender-alignment of 100% of its assets. (Image Credit: TWF)

“We hope that we can inspire others to become part of what is now a global movement around impact investing,” says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation president and CEO. “Specifically for women’s funds and foundations, we can demonstrate how, by mission-aligning 100% of our assets with our philanthropy, we can powerfully accelerate the change we seek in the world.”

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Rachel’s Network and People Over Petro Battle Industry Giants

Ecofeminist funder Rachel’s Network is collaborating with the People over Petro Coalition in combating the petrochemical industry in the Ohio River Valley.

rachels network
Rachel’s Network is collaborating with the People over Petro Coalition to increase civic engagement.

The Ohio River forms at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, and flows southwest nearly 1,000 miles to southern Illinois where it meets the Mississippi River. Several corporations, notably Shell, have projects in the works to produce plastics and chemicals in the Ohio River Valley, and have already begun building ethane cracker plants, pipelines, storage facilities, and other dirty infrastructure. These projects will foul the air and water, exposing residents of parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to toxic emissions, sending health costs from just three proposed plants into the billions over the plants’ lifespan. Moreover, such production exacerbates climate change and make local economies vulnerable to the boom-bust cycles typical of the energy industry.

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#EmbraceAmbition Convenes to Challenge Gender Norms

The Tory Burch Foundation, a  nonprofit organization empowering women,  is bringing together leaders, activists, and performers for an event billed as The Summit: Challenging Stereotypes and Creating New Norms. The Embrace Ambition Summit (#EmbraceAmbition) will be held on March 5 in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.

#EmbraceAmbition
The #EmbraceAmbition Summit features an array of leaders and speakers discussing how to challenge gender norms and open up new options for women and girls. (Image Credit: #EmbraceAmbition Summit)

Speakers will include:

  • Tory Burch – Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Tory Burch LLC, an American lifestyle brand, and Founder of the Tory Burch Foundation;
  • Gloria Steinem;
  • Yola – Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and musician from Bristol, England;
  • Ashley Judd – Author, actor, leader of the #MeToo movement and founding member of Time’s Up;
  • Tina Tchen – President & CEO of Time’s Up, and formerly executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls;
  • Sylvia Earle – Founder of the marine environmental organization Mission Blue;
  • Claudette Colvin – One of two survivors of the Browder v. Gayle U.S. Supreme Court Case that ended bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama;
  • Diane von Furstenberg – Fashion designer, philanthropist and Founder and Chair of her eponymous company;
  • Mellody Hobson – Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments;
  • Deja Foxx – Founder of @GenZGirlGang, an online community of womxn; and
  • Anne Finucane – Vice-Chair at Bank of America, and Board Chair of B of A’s European Bank.

The Tory Burch Foundation-convened Summit will include stories and conversations featuring female leaders from Hollywood, business, science, entrepreneurship and youth movements who will tackle “challenging stereotypes and creating new norms.” The all-day summit will include performances, including short stories, spoken word, and music.

Attendees will be able to connect with women-owned businesses at the entrepreneur marketplace, visit the Tory Burch Foundation pop-up shop, and network with other attendees. Applications to attend have closed, but anyone can sign up for the free live stream of the event.

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Gender Takes Center Stage in New Round of Systems Change Grants

Co-Impact—a philanthropic collaborative supporting health, education, and economic development in the Global South—currently has an “Open Call for Systems Change Grants.” Submissions are open until March 31, 2020, and this round of grants will place particular emphasis on gender equity.

A participant in the Young Women Leadership Program explains the parts of the Central Processing Unit in Bihar, India.
(Photo Credit: Paula Bronstein/The Verbatim Agency/Getty Images)

The “Co” in Co-Impact’s name points to its belief in collaboration and cooperation between funders and program partners including local communities, nonprofits, governments, and businesses. Co-Impact aims to enable sustained macro-level change, and it identifies and supports “a portfolio of pathbreaking systems change opportunities, investing over the long-term to help address obstacles and limitations in unjust systems that hamper human progress.” Co-Impact is dedicated to building a network, rather than a portfolio of discrete, single-donor funded projects:

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Lucina Di Meco on Women Political Leaders and Media Bias

Much has been written about fake news, bots, Internet trolls, and the gamut of tech-driven media manipulation that ranges from ad-hoc hoaxes to systematic attempts to hijack civil and political discourse. But there has been a lacuna in this coverage: gender, and the ways in which female politicians are victims of “gendered disinformation.”

Lucina Di Meco discusses the difficulties that women politicians face in a hostile media environment. (Photo credit: Lucina Di Meco)

In the report “Women, Politics & Power in the New Media World,” gender expert and women’s rights advocate Lucina Di Meco tries to fill this gap. “Millions of dollars are being spent on programs looking at democracy and technology,” she writes. “Almost none of them factors in women in politics. It’s infuriating and doesn’t make any sense.”

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Media Gap on Women and Politics: The 19th Steps In

It’s a brutal media landscape with each year bringing more layoffs and buy-outs of journalists, and closures of big city dailies. Paper is dying, and the digital arms of legacy media entities must fend off content-stealing, bottom-feeding, celebrity-obsessed click-bait factories. It’s difficult for serious and thoughtful, or even middle-of-the-road mainstream journalism, to survive unless backed by very deep pockets and a vast reach. And if a media organization wants to address gender and race in a comprehensive fashion, it’s well-nigh impossible.

media gap on women
The 19th will provide more media coverage of women as they push for a larger share of power in American politics. (Image Credit: The 19th)

It’s tough sledding, but the benefits of an informed public are incalculable and essential to democracy, and can’t be judged solely by looking at the bottom line. Consequently, some philanthropists are stepping-up and underwriting news and information organizations, as is the case with the support for a novel venture, The 19th, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.”

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PepsiCo Fdn Supports Game-Based Strategy for Young Women Workers

The PepsiCo Foundation is collaborating with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) on a digital life-skills course to help young people, particularly women, succeed in the workplace.

Game-based learning program Passport to Success helps young women develop skills for the workplace. (Image Credit: IYF)

The IYF Passport to Success program is a game-based program that can be accessed by youth worldwide using a mobile device. The 10-hour 18-unit program is designed to be “gender-smart” and includes women serving in various professional and non-traditional roles, as well as in positions of authority. The country-specific curriculum also targets barriers to gender equality as they exist in different regions.

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