A health care foundation, a nonprofit initiative, and a for-profit health information company are collaborating to get tools, data, and a clinically-validated health information into the hands of pregnant women across the country. Launching in the first half of 2019, Ovia Health will be collaborating with the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs and the California Health Care Foundation in order to help more women and families navigate pregnancy, birth, and parenting.Read More
The election of Donald Trump has sparked a wave of political activism never seen before, particularly among progressive donors.
According to the Center for Responsive Politic’s data, the top 154 donors spent a combined total of over $700 million this election cycle, with Democrats and progressives spending an estimated total of $327 million in this election, and Republicans and conservatives spending an estimated $350 million.
While the Center for Responsive Politics is reporting that this year’s midterms were by far the most expensive in history, with a large share of that spending coming from the right, another large share of that spending involved progressive women donors opening their wallets to fund the protection of key civil liberties including reproductive rights, health care, and social inclusion.
Taking the most recent data from the Center for Responsive Politics, I’ve parsed out the top women donors to progressive causes and candidates. Most of these women gave with their partners, so their decisions to give to progressive causes likely ranged in terms of how much the giving was driven by one or the other in the partnership. The important point here is that women are getting more influential in political giving, both within couples and independently, and in no other election cycle has that been more evident. Women donated an estimated 36% of the funds that fueled the 2018 midterm elections, and yes, that is a big deal.
TOP 5 WOMEN DONORS TO DEMOCRATIC AND PROGRESSIVE CAUSES AND CANDIDATES
1. Katherine A. Taylor (Kat Steyer): Along with husband Tom Steyer, Kat Steyer contributed over $50.7 million in combined hard and soft money going to Democratic and liberal causes and candidates. Tom and Kat Steyer are the founders of the TomKat Foundation, which focuses heavily on financial inclusion (they also run one of the most progressive banks in the nation lending to those who might not otherwise be able to get capital). Kat Steyer also focuses on food and nutrition and funds FoodCorp, which goes into public schools across the nation to help them improve food quality and teach about nutrition and healthy eating habits.
2. Marilyn Simons: In partnership with her husband, James Simons, Marilyn Simons contributed $18.9 million to progressives and Democrats this election cycle. In their foundation work, Jim and Marilyn Simons focus on science and math as well as issues related to Autism (they have family members who have struggled with Autism).
3. Deborah J. Simon: Ms. Simon gave $8.9 million to Democrats and liberal causes for the midterm elections. The daughter of a real estate company magnate, Ms. Simon chairs the Simon Youth Foundation (www.syf.org), a public charity that operating in 13 states to help at-risk high school students stay in school. Ms. Simon is also the founder of The Deborah Joy Simon Foundation, a private foundation making grants for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes.
4. Cari Tuna: Along with partner Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook), Cari Tuna made $6.3 million in donations to Democrats and liberal causes for the midterm elections. Tuna and Moskovitz are the co-founders of Good Ventures, where Tuna oversees the Open Philanthropy Project, which seeks to improve grantmaking with more effectiveness.
5. Marsha Z. Laufer: Along with spouse Henry, Marsha Laufer contributed $5.68 million to progressive causes and candidates in the midterm elections. According to Open Secrets, the Laufers have recently made many large donations to women’s election causes, including $100,000 to Women Vote! in September of this year. According to Forbes, Marsha Laufer and her husband Henry contributed an estimated $2 million to Hillary Clinton’s recent campaign for President.
The full list is here, so you can do more research to discover who the women are behind the big bump in political giving this election cycle.
From my parsed data, here are the top Democratic/progressive givers:
And here are the top Republican/conservative givers:
It’s an election like no other, with record numbers of women running for office at the local, state, and national levels, and women everywhere becoming activist voters who want to see themselves represented in government. We are finally beginning to see more reflective democracy in action as women make it onto the ballot.
It’s a great time to be publishing about women’s philanthropy, as more women take on funding nonprofits that are supporting gender equality, not only in the U.S. but also globally. So far this year we’ve seen significant growth in new organizations committing to addressing gender-based violence and education for girls worldwide, including Girls, Inc, the Obama Foundation, and the #MeToo Fund headed by Tarana Burke.Read More
A new trend in women’s philanthropy: rage giving. According to a new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, giving by women to progressive causes after the election of Donald Trump took off like never before. In fact, the study shows that women’s giving to progressive causes outstripped men’s by six-fold.
These findings add significantly to the growing evidence that women are using their financial power to drive political change. More from WPI:
Key findings from Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Election: Does Gender Matter? include:Read More
It felt great to fall asleep last night to the sound of rain, and even better to wake up this morning to the news that many women RI progressives prevailed in the primary elections. Nearest and dearest to me is the win for Lammis J. Vargas for Ward One City Council in Cranston. Beyond that, Moira Jayne Walsh, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Bridget Valverde all prevailed, despite not being nominated by the Democratic party here in Rhode Island, which tends to be heavily pro-life and pro-gun.Read More
One of the wonderful things about publishing on feminist philanthropy is getting to meet the folks on the ground in feminism, the people who are growing the movements that need to happen to make our communities more safe, secure, and inclusive.
I’m happy to share an interview I recently did with The Woman Project, a new 501(c)4 organization that started in South County, Rhode Island, and is looking to build the statewide movement to protect reproductive freedom. The Woman Project currently has the General Assembly in its crosshairs and is pushing to pass a bill that would codify protection of Roe V. Wade into state law.Read More
In the wake of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, reproductive freedom appears to be more threatened than ever. So what’s a pro-choice advocate to do?
One thing that some feminist activists are doing is incorporating their art into their activism. And in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the nation, these art-activists are pushing hard for the state to codify abortion rights so that the service will remain in place in the state even if the federal courts overturn Roe v. Wade.
These art-activists call themselves The Woman Project (TWP), and starting in 2017 as a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization, they are angling to make sure that women’s rights are protected at the state level, starting with access to reproductive services.
The manifesto for TWP begins by appreciating art and creativity, and recognizes the necessity of both inclusion, justice, and environmental work in building a better world. The groups is also doing a bang-up job of collaborating with other activists networks in the state to make sure that the issue of reproductive freedom is on the table legislatively in the upcoming session. The group is working one of the most important tenets of feminist philanthropy — networking — to bring together groups including Planned Parenthood, Emerge RI, Adoption Inequality RI, the Unitarian Universalist Community in RI, Indivisible RI, the Cranston Action Network, the Women’s March Huddles, and RI NOW.
Rhode Island as the Testing Ground for Protecting Reproductive Freedom State by State
Rhode Island is an interesting state. Born on the principle of religious freedom, it continues to be known for its tolerance and open-mindedness. At the same time, the General Assembly is largely populated by Catholic men, who still adhere to the pro-life tenets of their religion and appear to be particularly influenced by the state’s Bishop, an outspoken (some might say even bullying) religious leader who considers LGBTQ people to be immoral and abortion to be a sin.
At the same time, much has been said about Rhode Island’s capacity to serve as a kind of “laboratory state.” With its small-scale legislation and population (1.06 million), Rhode Island is a place where it is possible to test out new theories and approaches to problems. Currently, the state is being hailed for its groundbreaking strategy for treating opioid addiction.
The same kind of breakthrough might be discovered by using Rhode Island to test out strategies for defending reproductive rights. Rhode Island could serve as a kind of “beta” for passing state legislation that protects reproductive services and, if successful (and it’s still a big if) this model could be scaled up and used in larger states.
This is where The Woman Project (TWP) comes into the equation. Along with advocating for women’s rights, TWP builds on Rhode Island’s reputation as an artsy state in the approach it uses to take activism to the streets. Currently, TWP is adding signers to a petition that will be published in The Providence Journal on September 30th, which will implore legislators to pass the Reproductive Healthcare Act introduced last year. The letter already has a significant number of signers and is still taking more up until September 14th.
With 63 percent of Rhode Islanders supporting safe, legal abortion, organizations like TWP are providing a vital service by calling on our legislators to represent the majority of the voters. “We brought together a community of people who are moving forward with supporting access to reproductive health care for all Rhode Islanders a priority, who are in support of this legislation and [are] going to do everything to get it passed next year,” said Jocelyn Foye, an artist and one of the founding members of TWP.
I asked Foye about what unique challenges and opportunities Rhode Island presents to the movement for reproductive freedom. “Other states have passed somewhat similar legislation Delaware, Illinois, Oregon and Massachusetts,” said Foye. “So this really builds on that momentum. I think what is different about Rhode Island than these states is that we have Gender Assembly leadership that is right-to-life endorsed, we do not have a NARAL branch, and Emily’s list isn’t active here. Without some of the national forces at play in other states, we have to get creative to get our message out, to be heard and work towards change. That is what is cool about how small Rhode Island is.”
As local activists creating new social policy, The Woman Projects definitely means business. In 2017, the group convinced their own local town Council in South Kingstown to pass a resolution in support of the Reproductive Health Care Act. Now they are seeking support to go statewide. Foye described how, among other strategies, the group might be launching a series of videos to increase support for passage of the Reproductive Healthcare Act this fall.
In this election cycle, a record number of women are taking on powerful incumbents and systems that have stalled progressive policies in states across the country. Case in point: Alessandra Biaggi, who is running for New York State Senate in District 34 in Westchester and the Bronx. Biaggi is only thirty-two years old and is a former policy aide to Hillary Clinton. She is also a lawyer who served as counsel to Andrew Cuomo.
And after last week’s enormous primary upset of 28-year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over ten-term U.S. representative Joe Crowley, well, this moment is meeting Alessandra Biaggi. Courageously, she is taking on a sitting New York State Senator, Jeff Klein, who has led an obstructionist group called the Independent Democratic Conference, comprised of seven Democratic state senators who have caucused with the Republicans. Jeff Klein’s alliance with the Republicans has enabled the blockage of a slew of progressive legislation, including early voting and codifying reproductive health rights. Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference also blocked Andrea Stewart Cousins, a female state senator from Westchester and the Bronx, from becoming the majority leader of the Senate.
Alessandra Biaggi is progressive and smart and tough and made for exactly this moment in time.
We asked Biaggi a few questions to help you get to know her better.
Here are her answers:
What is one thing most people don’t now about you? I’m left handed.
If you could pass one law today, what would it be? The Reproductive Health Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade in NYS…no, it’s not codified; yes, my opponent is the reason.
What or who helps you keep going through the criticism and attacks inherent in a political campaign? The mantra that nothing is life and death, but life and death.
If you could have dinner with one famous woman (dead or alive) who would it be? Hannah Arendt
What’s the first line of your epitaph? They said it was not possible.
Chocolate or wine? Chocolate. I stopped drinking alcohol after the 2016 election — for many reasons — one of which was that the waters we were about to charter, I believed, required a steady and clear mind to find the truth.
To learn more about Alessandra, visit her campaign website here.
Tomorrow brings us another cool event for women’s history month. From 3 pm to 4 pm EST tomorrow, Prosperity Together will hold a Twitter chat to celebrate the collective impact of their funding.
Prosperity Together is the coalition of 32 women’s funds across 26 states and Washington D.C., which has invested $58 million since 2016 for grassroots organizations growing gender equality and economic security for women.
Philanthropy Women will be there tomorrow, to hear about how these women’s funds are pushing for social change, particularly by using participatory grantmaking strategies and paying extra attention to diversity and inclusion. Women’s funds are also doing some of the most groundbreaking work with supporting youth-led grantmaking and youth-led social movements, so it will be great to hear more about that, too, since we are living in the midst of the largest child-led social movement in America, the movement for gun safety.Read More
It’s a busy week for me, as well as for a lot of other gender equality advocates. Some big names in gender equality are coming out for Valentine’s Day. Here’s a list of a few of the events going on to give voice and power to gender equality movements on February 14th.
Tarana Burke Will Speak At Brown University: The recently rediscovered leader of the #Metoo movement, Tarana Burke, will be hosted by both RISD and Brown University for a discussion on February 14th. The title of the discussion is, #MeToo: What’s next in Healing and Activism, and the event is already sold out, but if you want to get on the waitlist, you can go here.
Eve Ensler, Author of Vagina Monologues Launches 20th Anniversary of V-Day: Activists worldwide have pledged to “Rise, Resist, and Unite” on February 14th for V-Day. “Probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade,” is how the New York Times once described The Vagina Monologues.
Now that “vagina” is a familiar word in the English lexicon, Eve Ensler’s work has continued to evolve worldwide. Each year on V-day, performances of the show take place all over the world, many serving as benefits for organizations and groups doing work to prevent gender-based violence. This year, in celebration of the 20th anniversary, activities include an anniversary benefit on February 14th at Manhattan Theater Club and V20: The Red Party at Carnegie Hall. Proceeds from these two events will benefit V-day’s global advocacy for gender equality and a safer world for women.
For the 20th anniversary, Ballantine Books is also releasing a new version of The Vagina Monologues featuring new voices and an updated intro by Eve Ensler, with new foreword by Jacqueline Woodson. In the past, V-Day campaigns have raised over a $100 million in funds for groups working to end violence and help survivors and their families.
For more about V-Day, go here.
Okay, those are the two big events. The last event is about me. On February 14th, I will be a guest, along with Mona Sinha, on Take the Lead Happy Hour, hosted by Gloria Feldt. Details below:
The Many Faces of Love: How Women + Philanthropy Changes the World