Back to School: Women Donors and Higher Education

Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott, who donated $100 million to fund the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, recently visited the campus. (Photo credit: Buffett Institute for Global Studies)

Institutions of higher learning are major recipients of philanthropic gifts, and received donations totaling nearly $47 billion in 2018 (a more than seven percent increase from the year previous). This rise is fueled in part by an increasingly wealthy, educated and philanthropically active group of women who are willing to make big ticket donations to colleges and universities.

Major female donors to higher education have included Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott, who in 2015 gave her alma mater Northwestern University $100 million to fund the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The gift from Elliott, a member of Northwestern’s class of 1954, represents the single largest gift in the Evanston, Illinois school’s history.

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Serena Williams Invests $3 Million in Reducing Maternal Mortality Rates

Serena Williams, world class athlete and founder of Serena Ventures, is helping to address critical health issues for pregnant women in America. (Photo credit: Serena Ventures)

After her daughter’s birth in 2017, tennis legend Serena Williams spoke out about her many postpartum complications. Williams experienced a traumatizing pulmonary embolism that forced her to undergo several surgeries after her initial C-section. The complications kept her in a hospital bed for a week after childbirth–and ruminating on the implications of her health issues for a lot longer than that. 

Although harrowing, Williams’ story is far from unusual. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. In particular, the immediate postpartum period is considered especially high-risk, due in part to the widespread inaccessibility of adequate postpartum care for both psychological and physiological complications. 

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Two Sponsors Give USWNT $1.2 Mil. What about Coke, Nike, Visa…?

Many on social media celebrated Secret’s announcement that it was taking action to close the pay gap for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. (Image Credit: Secret on Twitter)

The fight for equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has garnered as much attention as their on-field exploits, which culminated in their Women’s World Cup win in France on July 7. While many companies are now talking a good game about gender equity, two sponsoring companies—Luna Bars and Secret Deodorant—have stepped up and pledged money to the women’s team and its players.

The members of the U.S. Women’s team filed a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer in March, and the two sides have agreed to mediation. Former U.S. star goalkeeper Hope Solo filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer nearly a year ago, also charging the Federation with pay and other discrimination. Her lawyers filed a motion on July 22 in Northern California District Court that she be allowed to join the mediation.

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Wasserman Launches The Collective with $1 Mil for Women in Sports

Thayer Lavielle, Executive Vice President at The Collective. (Photo Credit: Thayer Lavielle, LinkedIn)

She can. She did. She will.

The powerful video encapsulating the new mission of “The Collective” speaks to women around the world. As Wasserman Media Group’s newest initiative to support the advancement of female athletes and entertainers, The Collective is an agency focused on change.

Wasserman unveiled the new initiative on July 13. The Collective is a new division of the company dedicated to women’s representation, and it formalizes the media mogul’s long-standing commitment to the cause.

“The Collective is being launched to raise the visibility of women in sports, entertainment, and culture,” reads the press release. The new division will deliver “unique strategy, insights, and ideas for talent, brands, and properties focused on empowering and speaking to women.”

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U.S. Women’s Team Gets a Parade, but Still Getting Fouled on Pay

The stellar athleticism of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team is unsurpassed, yet their equal pay lawsuit has not yet produced a positive result. (Image Credit: USWNT on Twitter)

During the Women’s World Cup final match—won by the U.S. 2-0 over the Netherlands—and again during the ticker tape parade three days later in Lower Manhattan, the chant of “Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay” rose from the crowd.

The women collected about $250,000 each in bonuses for being members of the championship team, but had the men’s team done the same, the payday would have been many times greater. The 2018 Cup-winning French team got $38 million in prize money, while the U.S. women’s squad got four million for their victory.

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Cedella Marley Backs Reggae Girlz as They Head for World Cup

Cedella Marley, author, designer, mother, and philanthropist, has been credited as the key donor behind much-needed support for the Jamaica’s women’s soccer team, Reggae Girlz. (Photo Credit: Cedella Marley on Twitter)

The New York Times recently ran a feature on Reggae Girlz, the first national soccer team from the Caribbean to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, happening soon (June 7 to July 7) in France.

The article, entitled The Women’s World Cup’s Other Inequality: Rich vs. Poor, reports that the coach of the Reggae Girlz has worked for free for five years, and many of the female players lack funds for the costs of being a professional athlete. The coaches have to buy them things like jackets to wear for training and other basics of the sport.

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Helping Women Dancers Take the Lead in Choreography

Choreographer Penny Saunders (center left) with DDP founder and president, Liza Yntema (center right, with her arm around Saunders), with the cast of Saunders’ piece, “Testimony” at Grand Rapids Ballet, (Photo credit: Liza Yntema)

While women fill most of the shoes in ballet, leadership positions are still dominated by men, especially in choreography and artistic direction roles. A nonprofit called the Dance Data Project (DDP) aims to help more women in dance keep up to date with choreographic opportunities and ascend the ballet leadership ladder. With this goal in mind, in April 2019, DDP released a report on contemporary opportunities in choreography, along with monthly spreadsheets and calendar reminders of global deadlines. Earlier in 2019, it also published research on salary by gender for leaders in ballet, finding notable imbalances in favor of men, especially in artistic direction.

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How Can Philanthropy Do More to Support Women in Sports?

Golfer Maria Fassi greets young girl fans at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. (Photo credit: Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Twitter)

Good news for women in sports: for the first time ever, the Augusta National golf tournaments included women, in the form of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur event. Finally, one of the oldest and most revered golf courses in America allowed women to officially compete on its greens.

USA Today asked a very pertinent question following the breakthrough: What if Augusta National had done this 20 years ago? This process of opening up golf to women could be so much further advanced today, if we could have gotten the ball rolling earlier.

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NFL-Supported Raliance Grants to Ten Orgs Fighting Sexual Violence

Raliance continues to support community efforts to end sexual violence with its new round of grants. (Image Credit: Raliance)

“The #MeToo movement has brought significant attention to the widespread nature of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse,” says Karen Baker, Raliance managing partner and CEO of partner organization the NSVRC. “Now the conversation is shifting to prevention. We’re proud to support these ten innovative projects with concrete strategies that support survivors and make communities healthier and safer.”

Raliance, a Washington D.C.-based national partnership dedicated to “ending sexual violence in one generation,” recently awarded ten grants worth a total of $470,000 to organizations working to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.

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Teen Girls are Leading the Way. How Can Philanthropy Support Them?

Greta Thunberg, teen activist from Sweden, has helped amplify climate change movements with her advocacy. (Photo Credit: Greta Thunberg on Twitter)

Teen girls are becoming movers and shakers across the globe in areas like gun violence, environmental activism, and gender equality, as well as advocacy for inclusiveness and systems change of all kinds.

And rather than simply accepting the hands they’ve been dealt, teen girls and young women are taking the lead to change their lives and the lives of those around them. A Swedish teen activist, Greta Thunberg, has recently made waves and garnered well-deserved media attention for her work around climate change. She has protested outside of the Swedish parliament and has spoken about the need to protect the environment for future generations at Davos and the United Nations. Thunberg has also inspired others her age, mobilizing school-based climate change protests in Sweden and worldwide. She was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and stands to be the youngest recipient since Malala Yousafzai if she wins.

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