It’s summer: the time of year when I start feeling like a slouch, like I’m not getting enough done, and may never get enough done again. But then I remind myself of a wise Chinese Proverb: Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
Relaxation is an essential part of being human. Relaxing doesn’t mean you’re not as rugged as everyone else. It doesn’t make you weak and ineffectual. Relaxation makes you who you are, and who you are becoming.
So I am welcoming this period of reduced work and enjoying the gorgeous weather this summer in New England. And at the same time, I am keeping my eyes and ears open to the world of feminist philanthropy, where fascinating, and frightening, events continue to transpire.
In this election cycle, a record number of women are taking on powerful incumbents and systems that have stalled progressive policies in states across the country. Case in point: Alessandra Biaggi, who is running for New York State Senate in District 34 in Westchester and the Bronx. Biaggi is only thirty-two years old and is a former policy aide to Hillary Clinton. She is also a lawyer who served as counsel to Andrew Cuomo.
And after last week’s enormous primary upset of 28-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over ten-term U.S. representative Joe Crowley, well, this moment is meeting Alessandra Biaggi. Courageously, she is taking on a sitting New York State Senator, Jeff Klein, who has led an obstructionist group called the Independent Democratic Conference, comprised of seven Democratic state senators who have caucused with the Republicans. Jeff Klein’s alliance with the Republicans has enabled the blockage of a slew of progressive legislation, including early voting and codifying reproductive health rights. Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference also blocked Andrea Stewart Cousins, a female state senator from Westchester and the Bronx, from becoming the majority leader of the Senate.
Great news for progressives in Rhode Island, as Moira Jayne Walsh and Bridgett Valverde prevail in their efforts to correct the Democratic party after it veered off course and endorsed some decidedly unfit candidates. From WPRI:
Bowing to heavy pressure from progressives locally and nationally, the Rhode Island Democratic Party on Thursday rescinded its endorsement of two controversial General Assembly candidates.
Bob Plain sums up the sad state of affairs in his post, RI Dem Party Doesn’t Endorse Three Progressive Female Legislators, so I’m going to quote extensively from him. The upshot from my perspective is that the Rhode Island Democratic party’s abandonment of progressive women candidates is a huge misstep for the party, along with their recent endorsement of John Carnevale, who is still on trial for perjury and in 2012 stood trial for charges of first and second degree sexual assault.
Good news for the philanthropic sector, as mainstream philanthropy appears to be embracing key concepts and strategies related to gender equality and a more relational way to do grantmaking.
The latest example of this trend? New England International Donors (NEID) and The Philanthropic Initiative’s Center for Global Philanthropy have gotten together to co-host the 2018 Innovations in International Philanthropy Symposium at MIT’s Samberg Center September 6-7, 2018. The goal of this event is to “propel forward the capacity and impact of internationally-oriented philanthropists, including individuals, families, foundations, investors, and corporate funders.”
In 2010, Representative Scott graduated from the first class of Emerge Kentucky which prepares Democratic women to run for office.
In 2016, Attica defeated a 34-year incumbent to become the first Black woman in nearly 20 years to serve in the Kentucky state legislature. Moreover, Attica is the only woman of color in the entire Kentucky legislature. In 2017, Representative Scott was named to Essence Magazine’s list of #Woke100 women in the U.S. She is running for re-election to the state legislature this year.
Attica is an inspiring person and powerful speaker. Here is her Tedx talk:
When I told my husband I was going to a three-day retreat on gender reconciliation, he was genuinely excited for me, but he couldn’t help getting in a sarcastic reference to cliché. “Are you going to hold hands and sing kumbaya?” he asked.
I thought for a moment, and then my eyes lit up. “I think so!” I said.
The Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GERI) retreat held in Framingham, MA did indeed involve some hand-holding and song-singing. But it also did much more, traveling into a realm of meaningful communication and understanding where I have never been before.
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.
Finding new ways for women to be safe in the community is still a high priority for feminist philanthropists everywhere. Now, with a new competition funded by Anu and Naveen Jain, more tools will be available for women to access emergency response.
The Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE recently announced the winner of its $1 million competition: an Indian company called Leaf Wearables, which created a new device for triggering emergency response. The low-cost device, called SAFER, is aimed at making as many as one billion families safer.
Yes, it’s today. Yes, it’s now. Today is Rhode Island’s first statewide giving day, and an opportunity to support your favorite community causes. More than 90 organizations in Rhode Island are participating in this new philanthropy event.
Here is a note from Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, discussing why today is a great day to support WFRI.
Engaging Men as Allies; Women Fighting All Forms of Discrimination; Negotiation Skills Workshops; Gender Equity in the Workplace and in Sports; Public hearings on reproductive health/freedom, fair pay and increased minimum wages... these are the issues and activities that the Women's Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) has tackled in the first half of 2018, through the support of volunteers and donors like you.
What will WFRI do for the next half of 2018? Let's start by celebrating Rhode Island Gives Day together! Join us today with a gift of any size to ride the wave of philanthropy and advance gender equity in Rhode Island. Make your RI Gives Day Gift here or contact us at 401-262-5657.
Your gift today will advance gender equity by funding research on the Status of Working Women of Color in RI, support policy and advocacy through programs like our upcoming Gubernatorial Forum, and fund grants that level the playing field for women and girls. Your dollars will also be used to support additional salary negotiation workshops, address intersectionality in feminism and ignite the fire of young women interested in advocacy.
In other exciting news from WFRI, the women’s fund has also appointed four new board members. From the press release: