Catherine Berman: Together, We Can Move Mountains

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Catherine Berman, CEO and Co-founder of impact investment platform CNote.

Catherine Berman, courtesy of Catherine Berman

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Question what others deem impossible.

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

Education. We see values-based investing as a game-changer for both investing and creating a more sustainable, equitable world.  We spend a lot of time helping investors and donors learn about the measurable difference they can make with their investments without sacrificing returns or operational ease. Many of us grew up learning the only way to support the causes and communities we care about was through grants. That is no longer the case. We see impact investing as an important opportunity to double-down on the causes you care about and a way to authentically represent your values with every dollar; where you spend, where you donate, and where you invest.

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Deb Nelson of RSF Social Finance on Activating Money for Good

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Deb Nelson, Vice President of Client and Community Engagement at RSF Social Finance.

Deb Nelson, courtesy of Deb Nelson.

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I’d known what a powerful tool money can be, and how important it is to understand the way people think about and deal with money. Through my previous work at Social Venture Network, I grew to understand and leverage social capital, but I resisted working with financial capital until I understood how to use it to effect positive change. Women have been socialized to believe we don’t know enough about money and we should just leave it to the experts. But you don’t have to be an expert to use money well. You just need to question assumptions about money, understand what it can do and activate it for good. Now, I love working with money and collaborating with investors and donors.

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Caress Gives $1 Mil as Founding Donor to IFundWomen of Color

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., June 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Throughout history communities of color have been affected by systemic racism and societal injustice. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has further highlighted the ongoing economic, health and social inequities communities of color faceAs a brand that aims to empower and uplift women, we recognize that, women of color entrepreneurs and small business owners face specific challenges and lack of access when it comes to starting or sustaining their businesses.  

IFund Women of Color
(PRNewsfoto/Caress)

Today, Caress has announced a $1,000,000 investment over the next 2 years to support women of color entrepreneurs through a founding partnership with IFundWomen of Color. IFundWomen of Color (IFWOC), is the leading platform for diverse entrepreneurs to raise capital through crowdfunding, grants, and coaching. Through this partnership these entrepreneurs will receive the support needed to stay open, re-open, and ensure their long-term success. Beginning with a $500,000 immediate relief donation to support 200 women of color entrepreneurs, already in the IFWOC community, with funding and IFWOC group coaching, mentorship, and connections needed to sustain their businesses. 

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Stacy’s Rise Announces $10 K Female Founders Grantees

Four-month program to provide $10,000 grants, professional advertising services and executive mentorship – including access to Press and Heath – to the Class of 2020, as recent Stacy’s Rise Project survey reveals 72 percent of female entrepreneurs report difficulties finding a mentor.

stacy's rise grants
Stacy’s Rise Class of 2020 (Image Credit: Stacy’s Rise)

PLANO, Texas, July 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — When the Stacy’s Rise Project announced it would expand its 2020 grant and mentorship program to support even more female founders with broadened services, women responded in kind – with 1,600 applicants, quadrupling last year’s numbers for a chance at $10,000 business grants, 1:1 executive mentorship and a dedicated team of professionals creating, producing and strategically placing advertising on their behalf.

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Economic Mobility Hubs: Gates and Women’s Funds Partnership

Women’s funds partner with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote economic mobility for women and girls in wake of the COVID crisis

SAN FRANCISCO — Women’s Funding Network today announced the cohort selection for its Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hub project, as part of an 18-month effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase support and resources necessary to advance economic mobility among women and girls.

 (Image Credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

The project is being launched at a pivotal time when economic mobility is essential to surviving the financial uncertainties resulting from the COVID crisis. The cohort includes Chicago Foundation for Women, Maine Women’s Fund, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, Iowa Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Western New York Women’s Foundation and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.

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COVID Worsens Student Debt for Women, Study Finds

WASHINGTON, DC, May 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The global pandemic is making the country’s student debt crisis exponentially worse, according to a new analysis by the American Association of University Women. AAUW concludes that, unless policymakers take further action to combat student debt and bolster the U.S. economy, millions of women college graduates will face unprecedented burdens that will hamper their economic security for years to come.

women student loans
Student debt was already more burdensome for women than it was for men. The COVID crisis is making the women’s student debt crisis worse. (Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash.)

Read Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans in the Time of COVID

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Ellevate Launches New Fellowships to Support Women in COVID

A fellowship granting fund, EllevateHER Forward equips women who have been economically impacted by the pandemic with tools and resources to return to work.

NEW YORK, May 5, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Ellevate Network, the largest community of women at work, launches EllevateHER Forward, a fellowship granting fund designed to alleviate the economic burden of the novel coronavirus pandemic on women and support their journey back to the workplace.

ellevate launches new fellowship
Ellevate Network will provide $250.000 in matching funds to support Forward Fellows. (Image Credit: EllevateHER Forward)

EllevateHER Forward Fellows are equipped with comprehensive membership packages that include networking opportunities, a wide range of professional and personal development programming, online resources, Ellevate’s signature 12-week virtual program Squads, and access to a community of over 150,000+ women. Contributions made to the fund will be matched up to $250,000 by Ellevate Network.

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Measurable Pathways to Equity: UNICEF USA’s Cristina Shapiro

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features the President of UNICEF USA’s Impact Fund for Children, Cristina Shapiro.

pathways to equity
Cristina Shapiro (Photo courtesy of Cristina Shapiro)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Don’t make perfect the enemy of good — or great. Research shows that women feel like they need to be perfect and fully knowledgeable before they contribute or apply to new opportunities — I certainly did, and it likely held me back at the beginning of my career. 

Another thing I wish I realized was that equality and equity are not the same. Though women may have equal rights in many parts of the world, that doesn’t mean they have the same access to opportunities, resulting in significant inequity. As a Hispanic woman in finance, there were very few role models that looked like me. Now, I know it is up to me to help change that dynamic.

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Texas Women’s Foundation is 100 Percent Invested in Women

The Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF) recently announced that 100 percent of its $36 million dollars in financial assets are now invested in a “gendered impact” portfolio.

The gender impact strategy seeks a strong return on investment while having the investment itself—and not just the return that accrues to Texas Women’s Foundation—benefit women and girls. This approach makes TWF the first and only women’s fund or foundation to move all of its financial assets—which include endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds—into gendered impact.

The Texas Women’s Foundation recently announced the gender-alignment of 100% of its assets. (Image Credit: TWF)

“We hope that we can inspire others to become part of what is now a global movement around impact investing,” says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation president and CEO. “Specifically for women’s funds and foundations, we can demonstrate how, by mission-aligning 100% of our assets with our philanthropy, we can powerfully accelerate the change we seek in the world.”

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Empowerment is Now Online: the Hello World Connection

Imagine that you had lived your life up to this point never experiencing the internet. No smart phones, no online recipes, no Google searches or social media.

How much would your life change if, one day, you were connected to the online world?

hello world
Katrin McMillan works with local children on the construction of their Hello Hub. (Photo Credit: Project Hello World)

The potential uses of internet access are abundant: education, job training, medical resources, advancements in farming and agriculture, communication with people across the world, all available at the touch of a button. For many communities, however, that online world is something out of science fiction. Women, children, and entire societies fly under the radar of education and international support simply because they live without access to the world’s information superhighway.

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