What Can $20 Million Do For Women’s Funds Internationally?

Four private U.S. Foundations—Foundation for a Just Society, Open Society Foundations, Wellspring, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Philanthropic Fund—have recently announced that they are joining forces to provide $20 million to women’s funds internationally.

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Neeramol Sutipannapong, a home-based worker, stitches a variety of hand bags and other products to help support her family. (Hewlett Foundation “Images of Empowerment.” Photo by Reportage by Getty Images.)

The $20 million investment was designed in consultation with women’s funds, and the five-year initiative will help the funds maximize their impact in promoting gender equity. “The resources of philanthropies have not always reached enough feminist activists, who we know are leading social change and driving gender equity. To solve this problem, we need to democratize philanthropy,” says Joy Chia, program officer with the Women’s Rights Program at Open Society Foundations. “This means putting more resources in the hands of women’s funds, who are well-placed to equip feminist movements, advocates, and innovators in the field with the tools to sustain change.”

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BIG NEWS: Allison Fine Announces 2020 Congressional Run

2020 is gearing up to be a landmark election year. The American Presidential election is well underway, and new faces and standing politicians alike are finding ways to come together on issues surrounding women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, climate change, and the economy.

Allison Fine has officially announced her 2020 run for Congress, where she hopes to represent New York’s 17th District. (Photo Credit: Allison Fine For Congress)

Adding to the potential for some great progressive victories in 2020, activist Allison Fine has announced her official run for Congress, where she intends to represent New York’s 17th District, and her hometown of Sleepy Hollow, New York.

A pioneer of online activism and a self-described “unapologetic feminist,” Fine is an author, a social change thought leader, and the founder of the Network of Elected Women (NEW), which connects women who hold local office around the country. She has also served as chair of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, as well as the president of her synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham.

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Calling All Movement Makers: This Global Women’s NGO Needs You!

The Women’s Global Education Project (WGEP) is challenging every philanthropist and feminist to “Become a Movement Maker.”

WGEP’s one-million-dollar campaign will enable 20,000 girls in remote areas of East and West Africa to get an education. WGEP notes that despite recent gains, women still comprise two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population, and are less likely than boys to attend school. In rural Africa, the situation is particularly bad: only 15 percent of girls graduate from high school.

Credit: Women’s Global Education Project

In its “Become a Movement Maker” campaign, WGEP is appealing to all sectors of the philanthropy community, particularly women donors and family foundations. According to WGEP, Movement Makers “will embark on an exclusive insider’s journey of our growth efforts, culminating with a global celebration in Kenya in the spring of 2021.”

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Women’s Foundation of California Celebrates 40 Years of Social Change

On October 17th, 2019, the Women’s Foundation of California (WFoC) celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a major announcement: the organization pledged $40 million to gender justice, and began its groundbreaking campaign to raise the funds to facilitate another forty years of gender justice grantmaking.

Surina Khan, CEO of the WFoC, celebrates her 5-year anniversary as CEO alongside the Foundation’s 40th birthday. (Photo credit: Women’s Foundation of California)

Less than a month later, the WFoC is more than halfway to its goal of $40 million. This stunning fundraising effort is the result of a steadfast community of donors, supporters, and activists, which the Foundation has built over forty years of campaigning for social change.

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Helping Women Entrepreneurs Build Assets in Fresno, California

Jenny Flores, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of the West

Editor’s Note: This Q&A is with Jenny Flores, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Bank of the West. Grameen America recently announced a new collaboration with Bank of the West, which is donating $2 million to assist with the launch of a new Grameen branch in Fresno, California.

What is the relationship between Bank of the West and Grameen? Does Bank of the West provide the funds and Grameen evaluate the loans and administer the program?

Building on a relationship started in 2017, Bank of the West made an initial $1.5M investment to provide lending capital to Grameen’s Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York branches, helping to establish Bank of the West as one of Grameen’s key business partners in the U.S.

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Not Enough! Giving for Women and Girls Totals $6.3 Billion in U.S.

A giant step for gender equality research and knowledge occurred today: the Women’s Philanthropy Institute released its first ever Women and Girls Index (WGI), which measures charitable giving to women and girls’ causes in the United States. This new index helps to establish a baseline for what this giving looks like today, and will help to tally the rate of increase or, (highly unlikely) decrease in the real dollar value of this philanthropy subsector.

Organizations focused on women and girls receive a small percentage of overall funding in charitable giving. Funding focused on women and girls represents $6.3 billion, approximately 1.6% of all charitable giving, which is estimated at $39.7 billion. (Image Credit: WPI: Women and Girls Index Report)

These statistics raise a critically important question: American philanthropy talks a good game about wanting more gender equality in our culture, but what are they actually doing about it?

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Giving Through Celebration: Batonga Foundation Hosts NYC Benefit

One of the best ways to leverage support for a community is by celebrating its culture. Angélique Kidjo and the Batonga Foundation seek to amplify their campaign for women and girls in West Africa through a one-of-a-kind benefit dinner hosted later this month in New York City.

Angelique Kidjo invites YOU to a night of West African flavor in New York City! (Source: Batonga Foundation)

Kidjo, a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, was born in Benin and grew up steeped in the rich musical and social culture of West Africa. She attended school at a time when girls’ education was not considered socially acceptable. In answer to taunts from boys in her classes, Kidjo would shout back, “Batonga!,” an invented word that has since translated into Kidjo’s music and philanthropy.

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Joining Forces To Empower Women in Senegal

Local girls enjoy clean water from a rehabilitated well in Senegal. Photo Credit: CREATE! (@createsenegal)

Where are the effects of climate change felt the strongest?

West Africa shoulders some of the heaviest impacts created by climate change, particularly in communities where families live off the land. Many communities in Sub-Saharan Africa have laid claim to lush, verdant farmlands for hundreds or thousands of years—but today, those families find themselves fighting against the very land they’ve called home for generations.

Between desert encroachment, deforestation, and the effects of a rising global temperature, rural populations in Senegal experience some of the worst effects of climate change. Farming families struggle to cope with a shorter growing season, while communities across the continent suffer from a shortage of clean water, food, and fuel.

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The International Battle for Women’s Water Rights

Five years later, the battle for clean water still rages in Flint, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Flint Rising)

Superheroes no longer wear capes: they wear gym shoes. 

A few days before we spoke on the phone, Gina Luster represented Flint Rising at an activist event in San Francisco. A red-eye flight took her to Grand Rapids, Michigan, then to her home in Flint at 7:30 in the morning. Next, Gina drove to Detroit for a panel appearance at the NAACP’s annual conference. She arrived in the city exhausted and ready for a shower before our interview, only to find out she couldn’t check into her hotel. 

Gina took my call from the hotel parking lot, sitting under a tree next to the Detroit River. Despite the insanity of her schedule and the flickering cell phone signal, her attitude was overwhelmingly positive. 

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New Microgrants Cultivate Collective Giving

Members of the co-design team working to grow the power and amplification of giving circles. (Photo credit: Catalist)

On August 20, 2019, an initiative to connect and catalyst the field of giving circles announced their intention to donate $32,000 to collective giving organizations. The funds, distributed in thirteen microgrants ranging from $500 to $5,000, will go toward circles and networks that “showcase, scale, strengthen, and sustain the field of collective giving. 

This initiative is born out of a yearlong co-design process spearheaded by the organizations Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation. 

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