Very few of us can get away with challenging the capitalist and male-dominated values of our country. Unless you have a lot of money, you generally make more headway in American society if you watch every word you say and every move you make to ensure they remain within the lines of the men-first, pro-business, money-above-everything mentality that surrounds us. But MacKenzie Scott is able to challenge these ideas by sharing her resources with organizations that are doing the work on the ground for a better quality of life in America.
This week, MacKenzie Scott put organization names and faces to the recent $3.8 billion she distributed. The money went to a vast array of organizations that support the social and economic fabric of our culture. Here on PW, we are going to provide the gender-lens pull-out list of organizations receiving funding, with the proviso that there are other layers in her funding that satisfy feminist giving values around equity and inclusion but are not explicitly addressing gender bias. These organizations are helping us navigate new territory as a society, a place where we can prioritize healthier relationships, personal wellness, and quality education and healthcare experiences. Almost all of the organizations on this list have been covered in articles here at Philanthropy Women over the past five years.
Well hello, my philanthro-lovelies! I hope you are doing well, and are ready to dive into some more feminist giving news!
Today I’d like to start with a quote from MacKenzie Scott, who has outstripped her ex-husband’s lifetime of giving in just two years. Here are her words from when she made her promise to fulfill The Giving Pledge:
It’s a herstoric moment. It’s a historic day. It’s the end of the reign of terror that lasted four years under President Donald Trump. It’s the day that a woman of color ascends to one of the highest roles of leadership for our country.
Many women leaders have been inspired to speak today, to tell of how they are experiencing this massive shift in representation for our leadership, which we believe will lead us to becoming a better country. Here are some great responses and reflections from the Founding Mothers of the Ms. Foundation, all incredibly strong and enduring women leaders who capture the monumental nature of this event with their words. They are introduced by Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women.
What a week for women’s philanthropy. MacKenzie Scott has shown herself to be a woman who is true to her word, as she continues to give away her fortune at a staggering rate compared to most philanthropists.
Who were the grantees specifically for women and girls? Ms. Foundation for Women, National Women’s Law Center, Global Fund for Women, and a huge proportion of this funding went to 63 different community YWCA programs across the country. Hispanics in Philanthropy, which has a grantmaking strategy focused on gender and racial equity, also received $15 million in funding. The YMCA National office received $20 million and many local YMCA’s also got funding. There were big groups of grants for United Way organizations across the country as well as Feed America, Easterseals, Meals on Wheels, and Good Will. Many universities for people of color also received substantial gifts. Most gifts appeared to be in the $10 to $50 million range.
On Thursday, November 19th, 2020, at 6:30 pm, The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture held a one-hour event with guest speakers Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, Matrice Ellis-Kirk, and Jerry Hawkins. The discussion was centered on Hunt’s book, And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America’s First Feminists.
Larry Allums, Executive Director of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, welcomed viewers and discussed the auspiciousness of the event, given that this year is the Centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. He described Helen LaKelly Hunt as an important “discoverer and chronicler of the connection between abolitionist and women’s rights movements in American history.” He acknowledged Hunt as a “dear friend” to the Dallas Institute and recognized her contributions as part of an early group of women donors funding gender equality, noting that Hunt co-founded the Texas Women’s Foundation, the New York Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Funding Network, and Women Moving Millions.
To those on the outside looking in, the story of women and girls’ social advancement may look like a road paved with victories. To those within the sphere of feminist philanthropy, however, that road has more twists and turns than many realize. We cannot deny the progress we’ve made in recent years, but we also cannot ignore the inequality, violence, and oppression women and girls still face around the world today.
But where does this oppression come from? When did we as a society learn to value boys over girls, to treat women like property or lesser beings? Why do we have to fight against it in the first place?
Imago Dei Fund, through a free program presented by Emily Nielsen Jones and Rev. Domnic Misolo, seeks to answer these questions with a six-month reading journey through the history of patriarchy. Examining the liberation of women through historic and faith-based lenses,“The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom: Putting Faith to Work Through Love to Break Ancient Chains” offers participants six months a guided tour with readings, group discussions, and reflections centered around the emancipation of girls and women.
I’ve lived and breathed women’s philanthropy for much of my career, from the cubicles of corporate philanthropy, to the living rooms of philanthropists, and the open-office workspaces of nonprofits both large and small. While constantly assured I was in the most “game-changing” and “innovative” conversations on giving, rarely can I recall speaking about the contributions of Black women in philanthropy.
When you ask most people to name philanthropic leaders, the list is usually populated by their family members plus a few American tycoons. Industrialists of the early 20th century such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller come to mind, as do the technology and finance titans of today. Reflecting the historic racial divisions in financial wealth in America, philanthropic history and communities largely reflect the charitable actions of white ultra- wealth.
In the world of feminist giving, we have to celebrate the wins, both the small ones and the big ones. One of those big wins is happening right now, as Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Bezos team up to distribute $30 million through the Equality Can’t Wait Fund.
Really, it’s hard to imagine a more positive development for the feminist giving sphere than Melinda Gates’s incorporation of MacKenzie Bezos right into the frontlines of feminist philanthropy. Yet this is also a searing indictment of how far inequality has advanced in our nation, that the coming together of two megabillionaires could have so much influence.
“Join other people who are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and things will just happen.”
This is how my interview ended with Leah Margulies, a longstanding figure in the world of activism and corporate
accountability. A civil rights lawyer, a policy maker, an attorney, an author –
Leah’s resume stretches across almost five decades of powerful work. Her career
represents the best possible outcome when philanthropy and activism intersect –
years of positive action, progress, and the ability to look back and see how
far we’ve come.
Editor’s Note: It gives me great pleasure to introduce Cynthia Reddrick as a guest contributor to Philanthropy Women. As awomen’s philanthropy scholar and experienced planned giving consultant, Reddrick invites us to celebrate Black Philanthropy Month by honoring Oseola McCarty, a Black female philanthropist who left an inspiring legacy of generosity.
August is Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), an opportunity to amplify the power and influence of Black women donors and philanthropists. Created in August 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet), Black Philanthropy Month allows us to take time to globally celebrate African-descent giving.