How Funny Girls is Growing Improv-Driven Leadership for Tweens

Funny Girls, a new program being piloted by the Harnisch Foundation around New York City and in Richmond, Virginia, engages girls in improv to build leadership skills. (Photo credit: Stephanie Buongiorno.)

Learning how to laugh as much as possible can be a key component to sane living, particularly in today’s regressive political and social scene. The Ms. Foundation for Women recently hosted its 22nd Annual comedy night, calling it “Laughter is the Best Resistance,” where Gloria Steinem did stand-up. Meanwhile, women like Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are moving into the executive producer role for hit comedies like Grace and Frankie.

With all this emphasis on comedy, you might think that this is what the Harnisch Foundation‘s new program, Funny Girls, is all about. But there’s more to it, actually. Much more.

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An Unusual Women’s Giving Circle in Boston Fuels Social Change Globally

Members of the NEID Women’s Giving Circle, from left to right, front row: Diana Rowan Rockefeller, Rebecca Obounou, Odette Ponce, Emily Nielsen Jones, Jackie Jenkins Scott, Amy Brakeman. Back Row: Constance Kane, Liz Sheehan, Mary Kay Miller, Laura DeDominicis, Ina Breuer, Clare Reilly, Nika Elugardo, Ellen Remmer, Kathy LeMay.

We know from the research coming out of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute that giving circles are growing, and women’s giving circles in particular are on the rise. But what does a giving circle really look like on the ground? How do they make decisions that are well-informed and that carry out the group’s intentions?

To find out more, I recently attended the New England International Donors (NEID) Global Changemaker’s Gala in Boston, an event that brought together a wide range of givers and giver groupies to celebrate the NEID Giving Circle’s donations to social change. The event featured a keynote conversation between NEID member David Campbell and Petra Nemcova, supermodel and philanthropists specializing in disaster relief rebuilding and education (she has funded the creation of 165 schools), who spoke to the group about the way in which disaster relief tends to focus on first response. Nemcova takes a more holistic (and, I would argue, feminist) approach to disaster relief — committing to long-term support to help countries affected by natural disasters.

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Announcing a New Fiscal Sponsor for Philanthropy Women

I am pleased to announce that the Women’s Funding Network has agreed to serve as Philanthropy Women’s fiscal sponsor for our not-for-profit publishing work.   This partnership will help us to raise funds to make Philanthropy Women a more potent force for educating the community about how women in philanthropy are driving social change.

The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) grew out of a 1984 joint meeting of the National Black United Fund and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, where participants discussed creating an organization exclusively for women’s funds. By 2000, WFN had grown into a network of 94 member funds and foundations with over $200 million in assets, deploying $30 million a year in grants.  In 2003, WFN received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which enabled significant growth. Today, WFN continues to expand, with over 100 women’s funds and foundations  spanning 30 countries, and continues to collaborate with other philanthropic powerhouses like Kellogg, the Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, to address gender equality globally.

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Join WDN and Philanthropy Women on #GivingTuesday to #FundWomen

Soon, the shopping rampage will be over, and we can get on with a much more interesting event of the season: #GivingTuesday. This year on Giving Tuesday, we will be hosting a Twitter chat along with the Women Donors Network, where we will talk about the diverse and powerful ways philanthropy can #fundwomen and make a lasting impact for gender equality.

Please join us on Tuesday, November 28 at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT) for a one-hour conversation on the importance of funding women in today’s philanthropy landscape.

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Check Out #FundWomen Remixed with Storify

An interesting new tool called Storify helps to aggregate a social media conversation into a story. This is the first one I have created, and it was pretty easy!

The Storify helps to see who participated and to review what everyone said. We had some excellent questions and commentary, including participation from PBS To the Contrary, Philanthropists Ruth Ann Harnisch (disclosure: she is a sponsor of Philanthropy Women) and Jacki Zehner, as well as many nonprofits and women’s funds. Check it out!

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Tomorrow at 11 AM EST, Join the Conversation to #FundWomen, and Get a Tweet Preview Here

I’m excited about the #FundWomen Twitter Chat, starting tomorrow at 11 AM EST.   Also joining the conversation: clothing company Michael Stars, which has a foundation and uses its philanthropy to effect positive change for women. Below is a sneak peek of a few of my upcoming tweets! Here’s part of my answer for Question #2:  How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?
The Women’s Living Room donated $1,788 to Artists Exchange for theatre scholarships for girls. Pictured are Women’s Living Room donors, from left, Linda Harris, Lammis Vargas, Kiersten Marek, Kate Aubin, Mike Sepe, Elaine Yeaw from The Artists’ Exchange, City Council President John Lanni, and Paula McFarland.

I saw how my daughters flourished from improv programs at @ArtistsoExchange, so had confidence in their work. I started a giving circle and we made a grant of $1,788 to @ArtistsExchange to fund scholarships for girls #fundwomen #nationalphilanthropyday  https://buff.ly/2iaNZHW

For Question #4: Why is philanthropy so important when it comes to women’s rights and gender equality?

Leaders of Dallas Women’s Foundation, California Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New York Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and Ms. Foundation on stage at the United State of Women Summit on June 14, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Philanthropy has the capacity to catalyze a feminist economy. Women’s leadership can move us toward economic models that bring prosperity to families and transform relationships from exploitative to collaborative.#fundwomen #nationalphilanthropyday https://buff.ly/2AHNsVy

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Relationship-Building for Progressive Power: A Conversation with Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Solidaire.

“How do you get movements to scale, while at the same time keeping them based on relationships?” asks Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Solidaire. It’s a question central to many progressive movements that want to help communities grow from within.

Solidaire formed in 2013, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Arab Spring, and anti-austerity protests in Europe. These disparate movements did not seek narrow policy change; instead, they sought to question—and remake—their societies, disrupting systemic inequality and injustice.

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This is How We Do It: Celebrating Some Feminist Victories

Teresa Tanzi,  a state legislator in Rhode Island, recently disclosed about fellow lawmakers’ sexual harassment of her. This led  party Vice Chair Joe DeLorenzo to  make sexist and offensive comments. As the Democratic Women’s Caucus hustled to call an emergency meeting to oust DeLorenzo, he resigned

The news is definitely not all good. But here and there, victories are being won for women and girls. This past week in my home state of Li’l Rhody, we saw a sexual harassment scandal in the state capital blossom into a resignation of an offensive ranking Democratic party official, Joe DeLorenzo. As representative Teresa Tanzi said on Facebook regarding DeLorenzo’s resignation: “This is how we do it. Stand up, speak up and do so relentlessly. And unapologetically.”

And then there is the matter of the New Republic’s thirty-year veteran Literary Editor, Leon Weiseltier, who we now know delighted in sexually humiliating women on a daily basis. Thanks to Laurene Powell Jobs, Mr. Weiseltier will no longer be pioneering a new publication called Ideas, since it appears his sexist and misogynist ideas and behavior are part of the problem.

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Why Feminist Philanthropy? For All the Relationship Reasons

Catherine Gill, Executive Vice President of Root Capital. 

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Catherine Gill, Executive Vice President at Root Capital, in collaboration with Charlotte Wagner, Principal of the Wagner Foundation. We are publishing it here at Philanthropy Women because we couldn’t agree more with the message. I see the way feminists do philanthropy differently, and to me, it is the critical difference that has the capacity to reshape communities and economies worldwide. From Charlotte Wagner and Catherine Gill: 

Here’s an indisputable fact: The future of philanthropy is female.

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#MeToo, and Who is Funding Sexual Assault Prevention?

The NFL supports Raliance, one of the newest organizations in the fight to end sexual harassment and assault. Raliance’s campaign, #itsonus, is helping to educate the public about how to take responsibility for consensual sex.

Yes, me, too. I’ll spare you the details. The larger point for me is that being a survivor of sexual harassment and abuse, I chose to build part of my professional life around helping survivors to heal, and fight for justice. And I have done so. Over the past 20 years, I have treated hundreds of sexual assault survivors and their families. I have helped people achieve justice, and I have also seen many survivors choose not to engage with the justice system for fear of being further traumatized. Sadly, that fear is not unrealistic.

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