California Gender Justice Funders Launch $10 Mil Culture Change Fund

The Gender Justice Fund, developed by California Gender Justice Funders Network, will fund culture change around gender issues. (Image Credit: Gender Justice Fund)

It’s time to change the way we think and talk about gender.

For many of us — women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people of color, and others — the last few years have been difficult to digest. There are too many significant human rights issues happening in our country today to easily decide which to give priority.

In response, the voices of activists, philanthropists, and organizations in this social and political climate are louder than ever before. Together, funders and campaigners are making strides to support the causes they believe in, finding new platforms and new opportunities for growth every day. We’ve made progress in legislation, but at the same time, we’ve seen massive legal backslides — like laws barring transgender people from certain bathrooms and abortion bans in nine states — that make it difficult to celebrate our progress.

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45 Years, Millions of Lives: An Interview with Leah Margulies

Leah Margulies is an attorney, human rights advocate, and policymaker who has dedicated her career to bringing corporations to task over their activities that violate human rights.

“Join other people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and things will just happen.”

This is how my interview ended with Leah Margulies, a longstanding figure in the world of activism and corporate accountability. A civil rights lawyer, a policy maker, an attorney, an author – Leah’s resume stretches across almost five decades of powerful work. Her career represents the best possible outcome when philanthropy and activism intersect – years of positive action, progress, and the ability to look back and see how far we’ve come.

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Canada and Equality Fund Commit $300 Mil CAD to Women’s Rights

A new initiative that crosses public/private lines, The Equality Fund, has formed in Canada to address women’s rights in some of the world’s poorest countries. (Image Credit: Equality Fund)

The Canadian government recently pledged $300 CAD (about $225 million U.S.) toward improving women’s rights and economic security in the developing world. Maryam Monsef, who serves as Canada’s Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, made the announcement on June 2 ahead of the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, where she is a speaker.

The Canadian government is partnering with the Equality Fund to administer the funds. The Equality Fund is a consortium of Canadian and international organizations that is funding efforts to improve outcomes for women and support gender equality globally.

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The Butterfly Effect: Tracking the Growth of Women’s Funds

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute released a new report today, detailing the landscape of women’s funding in the U.S. (Image credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute)

Today, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released a new report called, “Women’s Foundations and Funds: a Landscape Study.” It presents a range of updated data and new insights into a major branch of women’s philanthropy — one that has grown significantly over the last few decades. It follows up on a report of a similar nature in 2009 that focused on organizations within the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), but this newer study widened its scope beyond that particular philanthropic community. Elizabeth M. Gillespie, doctoral candidate at the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, authored the report, and it was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

Marcia Quinones, member of East Bay Latina Giving Circle. (Photo credit: Latino Community Foundation)

Giving circles bring people together to practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build power. In April 2019, 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement. Women are playing a leading role in these efforts.

Giving Circles Grow and Set Goals

Giving circles allow friends, neighbors, families and people with religious, civil, cultural and other connections to learn about issues of shared concern and decide where to donate their money. They are usually created by women and/or members of ethnic minority, LGBTQ or other marginalized groups — those who typically hold a lesser share of power and money in the U.S. — though many open their doors to anyone with common values. Women make up most of their members.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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More Sports Funding for Girls? Yes, Please!

Take it from Phaidra Knight, retired professional rugby player, who speaks in the above video about the value of funding initiatives like Sports 4 Life:”It really doesn’t matter your speed, your size, it’s just what you bring, your unique self, to the game,” said Knight. She went on to emphasize that with sports, young people have the opportunity become part of a team, which can lead to personal growth and improved self-confidence. “I think it’s so important, especially that girls from disadvantaged backgrounds have that opportunity. That is sometimes their ticket and access to greater things across the board.”

The Sports 4 Life Initiative is particularly aimed at increasing and retaining African-American and Hispanic girls in youth sports programs. Sports 4 Life was cofounded by the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW in 2014. This year, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation also joined the initiative, providing regional support to eight organizations in Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded by Billie Jean King in 1974 with guiding mission of strengthening and expanding access for girls and women to all sports.  As many of us know, sports participation can be an important window of opportunity for young girls, but there is such a huge gap in attention given to girls in sports versus men and boys. Every day, just for fun, I scroll through all the sports sections of the news online, just to see how many times I see a woman or a girl. It’s probably less than 10% of the time. How often do I see a woman or girl of color? Probably 5 to 10%. A sliver of a sliver.

Programs like Sports 4 Life are aimed at providing more parity for girls of color across a wide range of sports. “Even more than we believe in the power of sports, the Women’s Sports Foundation believes that all girls – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, zip code or family income – deserve equitable access to the lifelong benefits of sports,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Since Sports 4 Life began in 2014, the Initiative has awarded 200 grants totaling more than $1.1 million, and reaching more than 50,000 girls nationally. This year, the Initiative’s community partners were particularly successful in increasing opportunities for girls of color, with more than 85% percent of girl participants being African-American or Hispanic.

Learn more about the 2018 grant recipients here.

The Women’s Sports Foundation will begin accepting applications for 2019 this fall. For further information and timelines for the 2019 grant cycle, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org/Sports4Life.

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Women’s Funds Show Philanthropy the Way to Transparency, Diversity

Happy Women’s History Month. There are only a few days left to this month of focusing on the value of gender equality and the arc of its progression throughout time. I spent a lot of time this month researching and thinking about how women’s funds feed social change. Most of what I learned reinforced the theory that women’s funds represent a unique approach to philanthropy that the rest of the sector would do well to replicate.

My last piece for Women’s history month on this topic is published at Daily Kos, a site dedicated to the larger sphere of progressive political change.

As Philanthropy Opens Up, Women’s Funds Show the Way

Something unusual happened recently in philanthropy: Bill and Melinda Gates opened their annual letter by answering 10 “tough” questions from the public about their philanthropy. The Gates’ Q&A is just one example of philanthropists becoming more responsive to the public. Funders are growing more aware of the value of engaging with the communities they seek to serve. The Fund for Shared Insight (FSI) which is dedicated to bringing more openness to philanthropy, is cultivating this trend; it added five new foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this past year: Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, James Irvine Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network, bringing the number of funding partners in the collaborative to 39.

These new commitments to FSI represent a trend toward participatory grantmaking — a method of listening to and engaging with grantees and community members in the funding process, making the interventions being supported more impactful. It’s a powerful strategy that is gaining momentum, with grantmakers like Wikimedia Foundation increasing the amount of participatory grantmaking into the millions in recent years.

With help from FSI, Women’s Funding Network recently conducted research on the standard openness practices of its members, yielding  significant findings about the power of participation.

How Do Women’s Funds Practice Openness?

  1. Women’s funds recruit community members for several parts of the grantmaking process. Of the women’s funds studied for this research, 79% practiced participatory grantmaking in the form of bringing on grant readers from the communities being served. 74% of women’s funds also had community members participating in funding recommendations and site visits, and 61% engaged community members in evaluating grants.
  2. Women’s funds use listening tours and other engagement strategies. Listening to the voices of community members is a key strategy that women’s funds practice. 68% of women’s funds in the study engage in listening tours and 88% engage in candid conversation with community members.
  3. Because women’s funds listen, they do some of the most effective advocacy. 88% of women’s funds engage in advocacy, with 75% engaging at the state level. That advocacy is magnified by 96% of women’s funds engaging in coalition-building — getting other organizations on board when advocating for systems changes.
  4. Women’s funds prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Engagement and listening tours in the community help women’s funds fully appreciate and elevate the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Of the participating women’s funds, 58% have explicit definitions and commitments to diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.

The Results

The Women’s Foundation of California, recently introduced three important pieces of legislation through its policy institute that were signed into State law, all of which benefit underserved communities and enhance inclusion and economic equality. In Kansas City, Missouri, the Women’s Foundation was on the forefront of advocating for and enacting new paid family leave policies. And in Chicago, the Chicago Foundation for Women teamed up with other advocacy groups this past year to raise the minimum wage in Cook County to $11.

Bottom Line: Consistently employing participatory grantmaking practices can result in increased resources, knowledge, and self-determination for grassroots movements.

Women’s funds’ standard operating procedure of listening and understanding a community from its perspective, empowers grantmakers and community members to be more effective change agents. Grantees get more opportunities to collaborate with others in the community and participate in advocacy that creates structural change. Grantmakers feel more effective and confident about their connection to the community.

Now more than ever, foundations should fully embrace the participatory grantmaking model that women’s funds have been practicing for decades. By doing so, they will increase their capacity to accelerate the social change they seek.

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is a clinical social worker and founder of Philanthropy Women. Full disclosure:  Women’s Funding Network is the fiscal sponsor for Philanthropy Women.

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LPAC Brings Anti-Freeze to Boston With Feminist Comic Kate Clinton

LPAC will hold February 15th fundraiser with special guests Maura Healy and Kate Clinton.

Looks like there is some fun to be had in Boston on February 15th, as the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) holds its first fundraiser of 2018. The event will feature political humorist Kate Clinton, as well as Attorney General Maura Healy.

“This is a critical year for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and all progressives, and we hope the Boston community joins us to learn how we can support progressive candidates and advance positive policy outcomes,” said Diane Felicio, a Boston-based member of LPAC’s National Board, in a press release announcing the fundraiser.

Given the political climate since Trump’s election for LGBTQ folks, it’s no surprise that organizers and fundraisers are getting out front to support pro-LGBTQ, pro-women’s equality candidates.

The event has a long list of hosts, and comes on the heels of LPAC announcing its first candidate endorsements for 2018. LPAC endorsed Dana Nessel in Michigan, Angie Craig in Minnesota, Kate Brown for Governor of Oregon, and Joy Silver for California State Senate. LPAC will be making further endorsements as the political season unfolds.

Event hosts include: Naomi Aberly, Susan Bernstein, Steven Cadwell & Joe Levine, Elyse Cherry, Julian Cyr, Diane Felicio, David Goldman, Julie Goodridge, Catherine Guthrie & Mary Gray, Caitlin Healey, Tom Huth, Lynn Kappelman & Kate Perrelli, Ruth Lewis, Neal Minahan, Bette Warner & Patty Larkin, Shari Weiner, Julie Smith & Polly Franchot, and Urvashi Vaid & Kate Clinton.

The event will be held on Thursday, February 15th from 5:30-7:30 pm in Boston’s South End. If you would like to attend you must RSVP prior, by emailing cathy@targetcue.com for media credentialing or teamlpac.com/boston-party to donate.

For more information go to www.teamlpac.com

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