A recent announcement of a gift from Dalio
Philanthropies to Connecticut’s public schools brings Barbara Dalio’s work in
education into the spotlight. She’s a hands-on philanthropist and the wife of
Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the most successful hedge
funds in the U.S. The wealth of these Giving Pledge signatories is estimated at
more than $18 billion.
As part of a public-private partnership to
support disengaged youth in public schools, the Dalios and the state government
of Connecticut will each give $100 million toward a new $300 million project.
They call on other philanthropists and business leaders to contribute the
remaining third during the next five years. The Dalio’s gift is the largest
known philanthropic donation to benefit the state of Connecticut to date.
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.
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).
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.
“Safety is a fundamental human right and should not be considered a luxury for women,” said Anu Jain, who, along with her husband Naveen is co-founder of InfoSpace and is a Community Relations leader at Viome. The focus of much of Anu Jain’s philanthropy is centered on empowering women and girls. “With so many advances in innovation and technology today, it was unacceptable to us that we didn’t have a solution to help curb this sexual assault pandemic.”
Statistics about the high levels of harassment women face in India are startling. As many as 92% of women in New Delhi report experiencing some form of violence in public spaces over the course of their lives.
“We have been working tirelessly to solve the problem of safety using technology,” said Leaf Wearables team leader Manik Mehta. Leaf Wearables comes to the prize with the advantage of having significant market experience and success with an early version of SAFER that has aleady sold thousands of units in Indian markets.
“Women’s safety is not just a third world problem; we face it every day in our own country and on our college campuses. It’s not a red state problem or a blue state problem but a national problem,” said Naveen Jain, co-founder of the Women’s Safety XPRIZE and board member for XPRIZE. Naveen is the founder of multiple tech companies including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace.
The competition launched in October of 2016. Eighty-five initial teams engaged in the competition, coming from 18 countries worldwide including the United States, India, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Germany, China and United Arab Emirates. Prototypes for the competition were submitted in April of this year, and the five finalist for the prize engaged in a process of testing their solutions to see how the devices would function in diverse environments including high rise office buildings, college campuses, in public transit, and at home. Importantly, all of these devices are designed to work in areas where no cellular connection is available.
XPRIZE is a platform that specializes in helping nonprofits conduct competitions aimed at solving big world problems. Active competitions include the the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, and the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE.
From the Prize Announcement:
GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($1M USD)
SAFER Pro from Leaf Wearables (New Delhi, India) – Led by Manik Mehta, a smart safety device that sends emergency alerts with location details to a users’ guardians when they sense danger. SAFER Pro is a small chip that can ultimately be put into any device or jewelry with a discreet emergency alert button. When the alert is received, it additionally lets you record audio from the time of the alert.
Artemis (Lausanne, Switzerland) – Led by Dr. Nicee Srivastava, Artemis is developing a device that can be used to trigger an alert not just by a gesture, but also by seamlessly tracking emotional threat levels.
Nimb & SafeTrek (Los Altos, CA and St. Louis, MO, United States) – Led by Leo Bereschanskiy and Nick Droege, Nimb collaborates with SafeTrek to provide their customers an option to call for professional emergency services with just a touch of the thumb. The company was founded in response to rising concerns about safety on and off campus. Both teams work together to make the world a safer place.
Saffron (Bellevue, WA, United States; Tsinghua, China) – Led by Nicholas Becker, Saffron is a collaboration between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University through the Global Innovation eXchange (GIX), focused on developing wearable sensors and machine learning algorithms to create inconspicuous technologies that improve the safety and well-being of women around the world.
Soterra (Bethlehem, PA, United States) – Led by Lena McDonnell, Soterra used a combination of global positioning services, cellular data and bluetooth to build a versatile, reliable and affordable network to connect women to emergency support systems.
The criteria for being chosen for this list are as follows:
The Best Philanthropy Blogs are chosen from thousands of Philanthropy blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.
These blogs are ranked based on following criteria:
Google reputation and Google search ranking
Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
Quality and consistency of posts.
Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
Many of my favorite resources for philanthropy are on this list, including CEP Blog, Philanthropy News Digest, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and HistPhil. Also featured are some international, family, and community blogs that I will definitely need to check out.
It’s Friday afternoon and I still want to squeeze in some of my daughter’s soccer game, but I also want to let readers know that we are putting together a progress report on how we are doing as a new media outlet. Hopefully that will come out next week. Also upcoming we have reviews of What Happened, to catch up on one of most important political and philanthropic leaders, Hillary Rodham Clinton. We’ll also be reviewing Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870–1967for all you history buffs out there.
Recently, I got an email from Stephanie Gillis, Senior Advisor at the Raikes Foundation, wanting to “explore potential synergies” with the work we are doing at Philanthropy Women. Naturally, I was eager to do so, and soon learned about Givingcompass.org, a new team effort of several foundations and nonprofits, aimed at drawing on the chops of the tech sector in order to provide more resources for the philanthropy sector, particularly around how to assess the quality of philanthropy and get the most impact per philanthropy dollar.
What got me smiling right away as I got an inside tour of GivingCompass.org: It looks like they are going to do philanthropy news aggregation right. Inside the site, partners of great magnitude have already signed up to be part of the 12-16 “magazines” that will aggregate multiple areas of philanthropy, helping to feed donors and the nonprofit sector with a new source for matchmaking, as well as data, case examples, and strategy on how to give.
This could work out very well not only for Giving Compass, but also for Philanthropy Women, which, as a free and open news source, is already being aggregated by Giving Compass. That means more eyeballs for our work, as well as us being able to learn more from the other news and information sources participating there.
Giving Compass is being incubated by the Raikes Foundation, and supported by a group of partners including the Seattle Foundation, Social Venture Partners, Stanford PACS, Charity Navigator, and Global Giving. These partners are coming together out of an awareness that philanthropy needs to do more to help donors make informed decisions about giving with impact, and the resources available to help them in this process.
Giving Compass will officially launch with lots of fanfare in September, but during the summer you can come on board and explore, and help the team learn and improve the site for September. Giving Compass aggregates top quality resources and information in response to donors’ interests, and is eager to get more community reactions.
Giving Compass is a free online platform, and has ambitions to become “the single online destination” for expertly curated information on how to give, who to partner with, where to meet, and where to give with better impact.
Who are the some of the masterminds behind this new philanthropy hub?
Jeff and Tricia Raikes recognized early the irony that 70-80% of giving in the US is directed by individuals, but most of the resources in the sector are designed to support professionals working in foundations. They partnered with other donors and began assembling a team to drive Giving Compass.
Stephanie Gillis is Senior Advisor for Impact-Driven Philanthropy at the Raikes Foundation and the General Manager for Giving Compass. She joined Raikes earlier this year, having been Managing Director of Arabella Advisors, where she focused on family and individual donors. Previously, Gillis was COO and Senior Consultant with Blueprint Research + Design, Inc., where she worked with philanthropy clients on strategy and evaluation.
Luis J. Salazar is the tech genius behind Giving Compass and board advisor to the Business School at the University of Washington Bothell. Previously, he co-founded Jobaline.com and before that, held high ranking positions for Yahoo, Microsoft (co-founding Office 365), and other big tech companies.
Paul Shoemaker is a Senior Consultant with Giving Compass, focused on content and partnerships. Shoemaker is also the Founding President of Social Venture Partners. In 2011 and 2012, Shoemaker was twice named one of the “Top 50 Most Influential People in the Nonprofit Sector” by The NonProfit Times (2011 and 2012). In 2015, Shoemaker received the Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellow Award. He is the author of Can’t Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World .Read More
“The more that philanthropy can do to encourage and support women in running for office, the better,” says Kate Coyne-McCoy, CEO of The Campaign Fixer, who has spent much of her career trying to bring more women into American politics. Coyne-McCoy has trained over 9,000 women to run for office, and she has a message for philanthropy.
“Do more politically, period,” she said in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women, when asked what her message would be to progressive women donors and their allies. “Until you make an investment in the electoral and political process, you’re never going to see the change you want.”
In particular Coyne-McCoy is looking for philanthropy to help fund research into why more of the women who go through trainings to run for office, don’t subsequently take the leap. “The knowledge about this is old. They say it’s because women aren’t being asked to run, but that’s not the reason. Women are being asked.”
And the reason is also not because women don’t win, because that’s simply not the case. Research from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has highlighted the fact that when women run, they win office at the same rate as men. It’s getting them into the race that is still the problem.
But that problem might be getting better. In the wake of Trump’s victory, Coyne-McCoy has seen an immediate increase in women wanting to get trained in running for office. A training she recently did at the University of Connecticut was over capacity, and “that’s just one example of ten that I could give you about the increasingly level of activity for women in attending trainings to run for office.”
Who are some of the funders who are supporting women getting into politics? There are a variety of funders who support this work, including corporate funders, family foundations, and women’s funds.
But the bottom line is: Not enough funders focus their capacity to influence the electoral process. By highlighting the organizations and funders below, we hope to encourage more women to step fully into their power in this arguably underfunded space.
The Organizations and Funders
There are a growing number of organizations and initiatives working to get more women into politics. A review of the Foundation Center’s 990 database helps turn up some of the funders of those organizations. Let’s take a look at some of the organizations and funders trying to move more women into politics.
She Should Run
Started in 2008, She Should Run has evolved into an organization with $445,000 in gross receipts in 2015. Founded by Erin Cutraro, the organization works to get women on a path to run for office with guidance, support, and educational resources.
One of the repeat funders for She Should Run is The Green Fund out of New York, which gave the organization a $70,000 grant in 2014 and two $25,000 grants in 2015 and 2016. The McIntosh Foundation is another repeat funder of She Should Run, with $20,000 donations in both 2014 and 2015. Another important repeat funder of She Should Run is the Embrey Family Foundation, which provided a $65,000 grant in 2012 and a $60,000 grant in 2013.
She Should Run counts among its corporate supporters such big names as Facebook, Deloitte, PwC, Comcast, Caesar’s Palace, and Walgreens. An example of a recent grant from a corporate foundation is PG&E Corporation Foundation, which provided a $20,000 grant in 2015.
Vote, Run, Lead (VRL)
VRL is also seeing a big uptick in interest from women wanting to push back against the Trump presidency. After the election, Erin Vilardi, Founder of VRL, saw enrollment in an online workshop on how to run for office jump from a usual of about 50 to over 1000.
VRL has received substantial support from the Dobkin Family Foundation, which provided a $50,000 grant on 3/30/2015 and another $50,000 on 7/3/2015. VRL also received a $160,000 grant from Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 2015. The Harnisch Foundation (theHF), one of our lead sponsors at Philanthropy Women, is also a supporter of VRL, making $30,000 in grants to the organization.
Founded in 2007, Running Start is a 501(c)3 that developed out of the non-partisan Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC), which aimed to get more women to run for federal office. Running Start supports getting young women into politics in a number of ways, and has received financial supports from Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, and Qualcomm to name just a few of the corporations helping to fund this organization.
One of Running Start’s programs, Elect Her: Campus Women Win, was started with a $100,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation. Elect Her specializes in training college women to run for student government as the on-ramp to a career in politics.
Women’s Campaign Fund
Women’s Campaign Fund was one of the earliest non-partisan organizations providing resources for women to win political office. It has an associated Women’s Campaign Fund PAC which also brings in funds. In terms of funder information in the 990’s for the Women’s Campaign Fund, it was pretty scant, but one funder that comes up in the Foundation Center’s records as having made multiple donations to The Women’s Campaign Fund is the D.J. McManus Fund, which donated $6,639 to The Women’s Campaign Fund in 2012 and another $7,000 in 2014.
Women Donors Network’s Reflective Democracy Campaign
A strategic initiative of the Women Donors Network, the Reflective Democracy Campaign set out to be one of the major clearinghouses for data on the gender gap in U.S. politics. This campaign has a number of components including researching, communication, and grantmaking. With its website, Who Leads Us?, this campaign provides a breakdown of the representation data for every state, showing how many women and people of color are in elected office. Knowing the status of the problem is, of course, the first step to fixing it, so Who Leads Us is an essential tool in fighting for more equality in politics.
One of the newest efforts to dive into this issue is Girl Represent, which is running workshops for girls of color that encourage civic participation. Awesome Without Borders, a program of Harnisch Foundation, recently provided a $1000 to Girl Represent to fund expansion of their workshops for girls.
There are also several non-charitable organizations that are working to get more women into politics. One of the oldest and most revered of these is EMILY’s List, a political action committee formed in 1985 by Ellen Malcolm with an estimated membership of 3 million today.
In fact, Coyne-McCoy who started off this story, was a longtime leader at EMILY’s List, serving as a Regional Director from 2002 to 2011.
The Last Word from Coyne-McCoy on Philanthropy’s Need to Pivot Toward Investing in Women in Politics
A veteran powerhouse in the women in politics realm, Coyne-McCoy is adamant that there will be no real change until there is political change. In closing our interview, she put it quite plainly: “Until we get more women in office with their fingers on the buttons of power, we should all expect life to suck.”
Let’s hope that women in philanthropy get the message and do more to make life suck less. By funding efforts to get more women elected, they can truly change the game.Read More
Editor’s Note: This piece is co-authored by Emily Nielsen Jones and Nickey Mais-Nesbeth
Emily: The circle is one of those timeless symbols—one that appears in nature, in mathematics, and in art of all kinds—that says something wise and true about the world. It is also a unique symbol, we think, for what philanthropy is all about.
Philanthropy on one level is about giving money away. Often if can feel sort of linear and transactional from a top-down grid: people with social capital at the top doling out largesse and using fancy sounding words about “scale” and “strategy” in an attempt to help the needy. But today, a powerful movement is on the rise in philanthropy to leave the pyramid of noblesse oblige in the last century and become more democratic. This new concept is about empowering a community to make change from within. To me, it feels very circular and connective, like the processes of change you see in nature.
In nature, circles emanate from an invisible source at the center which creates a spiral motion. This spiral creates a pattern of expansion and contraction, as you see in seashells, tornadoes, and in galaxies and throughout the micro and macro designs of our world.
So too, every community has within it the seeds of its own growth and empowerment–which are what this new approach to philanthropy/development seeks to unleash. This shift has even penetrated large NGOs that deliver aid around the world. Alongside or within their regular programming, organizations like World Vision and Opportunity International now center much of their work around small groups of people, often women, gathering in small collectives where they save money to loan to a different member each month, and also support each other in the ups and downs of life (e.g. a wedding or a funeral or death in the family).
I feel grateful to be a part of this shift happening in philanthropy and global development, which some call “community-driven” or “integral” development. Whatever you call it, it feels circular to me and is rooted in the belief that real change happens from an invisible center within communities themselves but that this can and should be supported and catalyzed from outside.
My own philanthropic journey has been part of this shift from top-down “aid” to circular “empowerment” even before I had language to name it. About eight years ago, my husband and I decided the time was right to ramp up our philanthropy. We created the Imago Dei Fund by taking a less-traveled path — bucking the professional advice to pick one thing to “do” and build a legacy around. Instead, we followed our intuition and decided to look for movements already happening that seemed worthy of more support and investment.
In many ways, social movements are circular in nature – sometimes you can’t tell where they begin and end and they have a way of growing and expanding in a non-linear fashion beyond any one programmatic silo or sector. Early on, we jumped on the anti-trafficking train and began engaging globally in faraway places like Southeast Asia and Africa. Very quickly this movement drew us outward (yet inward at the same time) toward the “hidden-in-plain-sight” problem that lurks beneath human trafficking: the ancient subjugation of women and girls which is still idealized and encoded in many of our cultural and religious traditions.
As we supported and engaged with some faith-based organizations in our own evangelical pond, we felt the circular nature of social change acutely. We saw many great organizations working to rescue girls from brothels in faraway places, yet in their own pews and their own boards, they were still operating from a gender pyramid which marginalizes and devalues women and girls.
We need to not just support change as if we are on the outside of the process as donors, but rather to be part of this change ourselves: this is the wisdom of the circle.
After a few years, we felt the circle pulling us inward again and and nudging us to attend more to the world in our own backyard: Boston, MA. In the process, I had the great privilege of meeting Nickey Nesbeth. Though I had lived in Boston for over twenty years, I knew little about the rich cultural tapestry of our city, and Nickey has been something of a gateway for me to learn more about the local/global movements in my own city. Every connection one makes expands one’s circle, and Nickey has truly been a force of nature in helping me expand my understanding and connection to diverse women’s groups in Boston.
Nickey: When Emily and I met each other, we quickly bonded over our shared lament about the state of our world’s gender norms—which are still geared toward female submission, even in the 21st century. Despite these challenges, we marveled over how women have always found ways to progress through their own support circles.
These circles facilitated my grandmother’s emigration from Jamaica in 1968. She was co-sponsored by a group of women who helped pay for her passage abroad through their “Susu”— A 400-year-old Afro-Caribbean women’s micro-financing tradition. My grandmother, along with many other Afro-Caribbean women, immigrated to work as housekeepers for wealthy Americans. She later joined a circle of Caribbean immigrant women in Boston and once again, created a new women’s support circle and started their own Susu, to gather the funds needed to pay their children’s passages to America, reuniting their families against tough odds.
Using funds from her Susu, my grandmother later co-sponsored my passage to America, where I was able to complete high school, graduate from college, and build a career giving back to my community. As my grandmother did, I also found myself in various women’s giving circles, all geared towards one thing: lifting up women and girls.
In these circles, Emily and I found shared experiences as women of faith, seeking to create a more just world. A larger circle began forming around us, which has been expanding and building bridges across the challenging divides of race and ethnicity. It is a longer story than we can tell here, but my women’s network in Boston helped open doors for the Imago Dei Fund to get to know and support ethnic-based organizations that empower women and girls in our own communities.
Many women and girls in ethnic communities have the double burden of living with highly patriarchal gender norms and being immigrants, both of which create barriers to opportunity. However, these women and girls persist in their collective agency. They find ways to build new support circles and raise the financial capital they need to start businesses, sponsor relatives’ travel to America, and engage in charitable efforts in their homelands, thus carrying on our centuries-old system of collective impact.
Emily: In a recent conversation, we were talking about women’s giving circles — I am helping to start one here in Boston within the New England International Donor Network — which are a driving force within the larger women’s philanthropy movement. In giving circles, women across the economic continuum come together in living rooms and board rooms to connect, to learn, and to pool resources for greater impact in the world, often targeted toward empowering women and girls. As we were talking, Nickey paused and said, “Women in my culture have been doing this for centuries. It’s called a Susu.”
A Susu is an informal means of collecting and saving money through a savings club or partnership, practiced throughout Africa and the Caribbean. [...] The concept of a susu is used throughout the world and has over 200 different names that vary from country to country.The name is from the Susu from the Twi language to mean 'plan'. The funds are generally gathered with a set amount contributed from family or friends each week. An estimated three quarters of Jamaican immigrants in New York participated in susus during the 1980s.
And so too, in many part of the world, women can be found gathering under a tree, in a storefront, in a board room, or in each other’s living rooms to support one another.
Women continue to come together in sisterhood, to give back to their communities, to start businesses and social ventures, often in highly patriarchal cultures. In these cultures, women are not seen as co-owners of wealth, and in many places still cannot open a bank account.
Philanthropy as a circle. Women in one corner of the world rising up and coming together in circles to support women in another part of the world who are also coming together. What goes around comes around, a virtuous, ever-enlarging spiritual circle coming together to uplift and empower daughters, sisters, and mothers.
Nickey: Here is a beautiful picture of the circular nature of the Susu: Through our relationship, I introduced Emily’s foundation to an Eritrean Women’s Group here in Boston. Women in this group are navigating the challenges of leaving their home and facing racial and gender discrimination, yet they are ever-mindful of the needs back home. In their circle, they have raised enough money to build two women’s centers back home.
The Women’s Training Center in Senafe, Eritrea is one of 6 built nationwide, which includes 13 rooms for computer training, weaving and other vocational activities. The center is a contribution of Eritrean women living abroad, using the Susu to fund the advancement of women in different cities across their native country.
Find some friends and start a Susu, or join one that is already going on. Connect hand and heart (and purses) to expand this ancient circle of love and solidarity. More than ever this circle needs all of us, in order to relieve the burden of gender inequality that falls so heavily on the shoulders of girls and women.
The message of the circle is that what goes around comes around. What we give we receive back in countless dividends, seen and unseen. We cannot “raise” or “empower” someone else from on high. My own empowerment and wellbeing is bound up in yours.
“When we raise Her, we raise ourselves.
When we raise ourselves, we raise Her.”
~ Asphodel P. Long
Big News: The NoVo Foundation has narrowed down the scope of its focus for its $90 million in funding to empower girls of color, and the funder is now seeking regional partners to provide support to community agencies doing work for gender equality. NoVo is currently opening up RFP applications for community-based organizations in the U.S. Southeast to get grants for helping girls of color.
This decision was based on the outcome of a year-long listening tour across the country with girls of color, movement leaders, and organizers. During that time, NoVo employed its strategy of getting feedback and solutions directly “defined and driven by girls and women of color” in order to maximize impact for this population.
Girls of color continue to face deep systemic, societal, and institutional challenges girls face, and the situation is particularly pronounced in the U.S. Southeast, which has been historically neglected by philanthropy, especially when it comes to the work of girls of color. Though 40 percent of girls of color live in the South, less than 1 percent of foundation funding went specifically to programs focused on Black women and girls.
This investment also comes along at an important time when civil society organizations like women’s funds may need extra support, given that the current administration plans to further cut discretionary social spending. Places like the U.S. Southeast will be particularly hurt by these cuts, and will need the added support of private philanthropy.
“The movement for girls of color in the U.S. is being led by fearless women, primarily women of color, often working on their own time and dime in a severely under-funded field,” said Tynesha McHarris, Fellow for NoVo’s Advancing Adolescent Girls’ Rights initiative. “Girls of color and their advocates have powerful visions for how to create meaningful change in their communities, this country, and the world.”
More of these visions are about to become realities, thanks to the NoVo Foundation making this work a priority. “NoVo will deeply invest in community-based organizations that center girls of color as agents in their own decision-making and create spaces for connection, healing, and consciousness-raising with and for girls of color,” said a press release announcing the new opening for RFP’s.
Along with emphasizing grantmaking in the U.S. Southeast, NoVo is also opening grantmaking to community-based partners nationwide, and will be providing grants that way to make sure there is still impact for their work in other regions.
“A vibrant movement to build power with and for girls of color already exists, and it is time for philanthropy to follow its lead,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of NoVo. “Meaningful change for girls of color in our country is only possible if we shift power to those who are most affected.”
“We are ecstatic about NoVo’s community-based approach to grantmaking,” said Joanne Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity. “Placing girls of color at the core of its grantmaking strategy will help NoVo direct resources where they are most needed and to those who are best positioned to lead social change efforts.”
NoVo’s Listening Tours also helped to affirm that some area of philanthropy are still very underfunded, including investments to end sexual violence and confront racism.
As the press release details, NoVo plans to provide flexible funding to organizations that:
Partner with regional grantmaking and movement building infrastructures, starting with the Southeast: In addition to prioritizing community-based organizations across the country, NoVo has issued an RFP to identify a regional infrastructure to partner with on grantmaking and movement capacity building, starting in the Southeast. The regional partner will house efforts that provide grant making to existing organizations and help seed new organizations, with the goal of eventually also supporting individuals and collectives outside of formal c3 structures. In addition to grantmaking the regional partner will provide the healing, political education and organizing capacity needed to sustain a healthy field.
This new announcement builds on the NoVo Foundation’s longstanding focus on adolescent girls, which was part of the organization’s vision at its inception in 2006. These new investments will also not compete with NoVo’s work in the Global South, which will “continue to deepen.”
“Whether in Jakarta or Jackson, the movement for girls is led every day by courageous movement leaders creating change in their communities,” added Jody Myrum, director of NoVo’s Advancing Adolescent Rights Initiative. “Together these efforts are advancing a tremendously dynamic and vibrant transnational movement to address the challenges faced by girls throughout the world. Guided by their leadership, the potential for transformative, long-term change is enormous.”
She’s young, she’s highly educated, and she likes to be involved in funding strategy — all traits that suggest Priscilla Chan will be making an enormous impact on philanthropy over the next decade and beyond.
“Chan is a hands-on leader of Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), taking charge of many of the day-to-day operational details of scaling up a large philanthropic enterprise,” David Callahan recently told me. Callahan is founder and publisher of Inside Philanthropy, and interviewed Chan for his new book, The Givers, due out April 11th.
“Chan has spent all of her adult life as a front-line practitioner working with vulnerable families, and brings that mindset and experience to CZI,” observed Callahan. “You can see that most recently in the new housing initiative to stop low-income families from being displaced in Silicon Valley.”
Priscilla Chan is only getting started on her philanthropy journey, and yet some of ways she is doing things suggest a very different trajectory for the future. While Melinda Gates, at about age 50, arrived at a more defined plan to make gender equity central to her work, we don’t know yet where gender equality will land in Priscilla Chan’s list of priorities. In the video below, she credits Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her feminist role model, which suggests she takes seriously the progressive agenda for women, including access to health care and contraception, and equal pay for equal work.
It All Hinges on Inclusiveness — and That’s Where Feminism Comes In
The Chan-Zuckerberg vision of a better world appears to be strongly aligned with the feminist philanthropy agenda of inclusiveness and equality.
“Could we build more inclusive and welcoming communities?” asks Zuckerberg, in this video with Chan in which he talks about his “basic moral responsibility” to make investments that will move us toward this more inclusive community.
Helen LaKelly Hunt, longtime funder of women’s philanthropy and seed investor in the New York Women’s Foundation, the Dallas Foundation, and the Women’s Funding Network, also thinks Priscilla Chan is bringing something new — and important — to philanthropy: the ability to be more relational in strategic planning.
“Priscilla and Mark are modeling strategic philanthropy – not just in terms of how the funds land, but in how they are doing philanthropy. They are doing it in a relational way,” said Helen LaKelly Hunt, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Helen is author of the forthcoming title, And the Spirit Moved Them, due out on April 17th, which tells the lost history of feminism’s earliest roots — finding that racial equality as well as gender equality were on the original agenda of the earliest suffragettes.
“There is great power in unleashing your money into the world toward cultural transformation. Priscilla and Mark are doing this in a way that it is also transformational, and radical – they are doing it together in partnership,” emphasized Hunt.
“Funding in partnership is not always easy, but the union of perspectives make for a richer outcome, and more vital and effective work,” added Hunt, who, along with her husband Harville Hendrix, created Imago Couples Therapy and have recently launched a new initiative to help couples called Safe Conversations.
In the interview at Forbes 2016 Women’s Summit, Priscilla described how Mark helps her stay focused on goals, and she plays a complementary role for him by giving him the context of real world people encountered as patients or students.
“I force him to learn more about — what’s the context? What are we trying to do? Who are the people involved? What are the cultures that we are trying to work with? How can we learn more from the people already doing the work?”
“In all honesty, it’s really fun, and we have a lot to learn from each other,” said Chan. Translation: Chan gets that philanthropy is pretty much the most fun you can have in life, and she’s excited that she gets to do it with Zuckerberg. This is a huge shift in how men and women in high net worth couples have traditionally functioned. What was once a conversation between couples often dominated by men is now a lively exchange where two people challenge each other’s ideas in order to reach a more informed conclusion.
“We are complementary, and we drive each other and really challenge each other to think more deeply about the questions that we’re faced with,” Chan said.
Here’s Where It All Links Up: Health Care, Feminism, and the Future of Inclusive Philanthropy
So why am I telling this story and raising the visibility of Priscilla Chan for women in philanthropy? (By the way, I did attempt to contact Priscilla Chan for an interview through LinkedIn, where she is listed as a member of the staff of The Primary School, but I did not receive a response. I will be sending her a link to this post, and I hope she will consider responding in the future.)
I am talking about this because Priscilla Chan helps illustrate the story of how feminism is changing philanthropy. Priscilla Chan comes to her philanthropy as a doctor who has already practiced for a number of years and has seen close-up what today’s problems look like. She is also a feminist, and I would argue that her feminism is destined to grow, as she becomes a mother to two girls soon, and parents them in their journey to adulthood.
Access to health care is at the top of the agenda for many progressive and feminist foundations, and I believe (full disclosure: I am also a health care provider as an LICSW therapist) health care should continue to be on top of the agenda for women in philanthropy. Leaders like Priscilla Chan get the importance of health care in a profound way, explaining why the CZI’s biohub is now investing $50 million in 47 new initiatives aimed at tackling health problems. CZI is also investing in strategies to bring more inclusiveness to education and housing access.
With leaders like Priscilla Chan giving to the fight both for health care and for gender equality, we will be more likely to move the policy agenda toward a civil society where all have are treated equally, and all have equal access to health care as a public good.
The Future of Inclusive Philanthropy
Chan embodies what could be the dawn of a new era of Inclusive Philanthropy. The market economies and the democratic systems that govern the world are beginning to recognize the importance of inclusiveness, and this is partially due to efforts of both progressives and feminists to open the door to inclusiveness of all kinds. Many multinational corporations such as Bank of America, Barclay’s, Walmart, and Coca-Cola, all supporting workplaces that are more inclusive of LGBT communitites, and have set goals for achieving gender equity in hiring and pay. More governments are recognizing same sex marriage and calling for an end to laws which discriminate based on race or gender.
In addition, organizations like CZI appear to be tasking themselves with the agenda of building more inclusive societies. But while the agenda of CZI appears very liberal and both Mark and Priscilla talk clearly about wanting to open up opportunity for all people, the agenda for Facebook is less clear. This article reports that Facebook donated $100,000 to the Conservative Political Action Committee, which funds conferences with panels like “If Heaven Has a Gate, A Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” and “Armed and Fabulous: The New Normal.” It was also willing to provide a platform for racist, sexist, homophobic Milo Yiannopoulos before he went too far, even for conservatives, and appeared to be a supporter of pedophilia.
Facebook also supported Netroots Nation, one of the largest annual gatherings of progressive activists as well as the Personal Democracy Forum, an organization which “investigates how politics and technology work together.”Read More