When I was a girl, I used to watch characters like Murphy Brown and Angela Bower from “Who’s The Boss?” on television. I remember seeing these incredible women workplace role models and how tough and tenacious they were. They got the job done, often in fields primarily dominated by men.
But while they made for great businesswomen role models, I did not have those same role models in fields related to science, technology, engineering or math. I was fortunate to have a father who encouraged me to do anything I dreamed of, but many young girls today don’t have the same privilege. Even as television yielded to the internet, giving us new ways to connect, girls still struggle to find support and understand the value they bring to the world, especially in STEM.
On September 15, the 57th anniversary of the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama church bombing that killed four Black girls, a group of prominent Black women launched the Black Girl Freedom Fund. The group’s open letter and social media campaign mark the beginning of a one-billion-dollar effort championing Black girls and their families.
The open letter from the Black Girl Freedom Fund notes that while Black Lives Matter attracts strong philanthropic support, “Black girls and young women still remain adultified, victimized by violence, and erased from the very same social justice movement for which they continue to risk their lives.”
The letter demands that Black girls receive the attention and support they deserve:
How many girls see themselves in office because of characters like Leslie Knope and Selina Meyer? How many teenagers cheer on their on-screen counterparts in movies like The Half of It, which features a queer, Chinese-American leading lady, and TV shows like Sex Education, where the beautifully diverse cast of high school characters has captured hearts around the world?
During the second day of the Women Moving Millions annual summit, Laverne Cox took the virtual stage with Darnell Moore, Director of Inclusion Strategy for Content and Marketing at Netflix, to discuss the power inherent in seeing people who look, talk, and live like us in the TV shows and movies we watch.
(Sept. 10, 2020) SOUTHERN BLACK GIRLS AND WOMEN’S CONSORTIUM LAUNCHES BLACK GIRLS DREAM FUND
The $100 million fundraising initiative will support making Black girls’ dreams a reality
ATLANTA – Today, the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (SBGWC) kicked off a 10-year fundraising initiative to raise $100 million to financially empower the goals of Southern Black girls and women in the United States through the Black Girls Dream Fund. The new Fund seeks to fundraise and shift current grantmaking efforts in the South, channeling greater resources toward organizations that are intentionally supporting and empowering Black girls and women.
Women’s beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet recently announced a $100,000 grant cycle for The Love Beauty and Planet Project. This grant project offers funding ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 for projects that improve the wellbeing and health of the planet, specifically those that focus on reducing, avoiding, or sequestering carbon.
Ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, the Love Beauty and Planet grants focus on projects that improve recycling rates, reduce plastic waste, and/or sequester carbon emissions. What’s more, the company has expressed a preference for applications focusing on marginalized and underserved communities, which are often the most adversely affected–and the least able to recuperate–from carbon emissions that harm the environment.
On Thursday, September 10th, representatives from Girls Leadership joined a panel of youth leaders to discuss the findings of the new report Ready to Lead. The webinar facilitators included report author Dr. Charlotte Jacobs and report foreword author Dr. Monique W. Morris, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Reid, and Girls Leadership’s Chief Program Officer, Kendra Karr.
This interactive event included accounts from the young leaders’ lived experiences of the findings from the Ready to Lead report, which centers on the readiness of girls in Black and Latinx communities to step forward as leaders. The event drew out some fascinating and emotionally charged conversations, along with frequent encouragement from audience members in the comments.
The conversation below explores Lerner’s experience as a philanthropist, business leader, and activist entrepreneur, as well as what other funders and company leaders can do to advance an intersectional focus in their approaches to philanthropy.
Part of the impact of a landmark election year is the inevitable urge to look toward the future. Where are we headed in terms of women’s leadership? Are we doing enough to support girls of color and their families? Are we supporting representation in leadership roles, mentorships, and educational leadership?
When it comes to building leadership skills in girls of color, we still have a long way to go. Organizations like LiveGirl and Girls Who Code aim to support girls of color with leadership skills, educational programs, and skills-based training programs, but the research surrounding the efficacy of these programs is unfortunately lacking. We don’t have a clear enough picture of girls’ confidence: particularly, the likelihood of Black and Latinx girls to self-identify as leaders, and see themselves represented in leadership positions within their schools and communities.
Alliance for Girls (AFG), a California-based network of girls-serving organizations, wants state and local leaders to pay more attention to the needs of girls—particularly Black girls and girls of color—in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To investigate this issue further, Alliance for Girls has launched “When Girls Thrive,” an initiative researching and advocating for an expanded understanding of how girls are being impacted by COVID. It includes an online survey, and addresses the lack of data on the needs and experiences of girls and gender-expansive youth up to 24 years of age. This group is particularly vulnerable during this time of increased health risks, extended isolation, and significant disruption and barriers to education and work. Such challenges are even more extreme for Black youth and youth of color.
Three weeks ago, I was elected as Board Chair of the Equal Rights Amendment Fund for Women’s Equality. As a funder and champion of women’s rights and economic justice, this call to step up could not have come at a more urgent time.
Each one of us has had many moments of reckoning during COVID-19. But as women of color, we have seen that COVID has treated us differently from the rest. Race has been identified as a co-morbidity and a risk factor, just like diabetes or heart disease. Our healthcare systems, our educational systems, and our systems for protecting essential workers are all struggling mightily against a dangerous and mysterious disease. Basic rights and systems have been demolished for women, and women of color are being particularly hard-hit, facing higher rates of job loss while also being expected to bear more responsibility for caregiving and educating children.