Editor’s Note: The following essay is by Stephanie Fine Sasse, founder of The Plenary, Co., a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to making social and environmental issues more accessible through science, art, and play.
A few years ago, I sat across from twelve dynamic, accomplished, and inspiring women. They were artists, dancers, singers, musicians, gamers, athletes, activists, and moms.
And of course, they were scientists.
I watched their eyes light up as they spoke about the curiosities and purpose behind their work. And I watched their eyes narrow as they reflected on the challenges that they faced. Many of them spoke about the important roles of failure, creativity, and collaboration in the sciences; concepts that are too often missing from the job description. And others shared their favorite parts of their work: discovery, travel, teamwork, writing, or mentoring students.
In the midst of crisis, some foundations are working harder than ever to protect and empower women and girls, particularly in terms of providing funding for women in STEM.
Vodafone Americas Foundation recently announced a $75,000 commitment to MIT Solve’s Learning for Women & Girls challenge, as well as $50,000 in funding for OpenIdeo’s COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge. This funding reflects the Foundation’s new commitment to empowerment and education for women and girls, as well as the organization’s flexibility in times of crisis.
On International Women’s Day, World Pulse announced the launch of their new digital impact campaign, #SheTransformsTech. In partnership with the Vodafone Americas Foundation, EQUALS, and a network of other sponsors from the philanthropy and technology worlds, this campaign crowdsources ways women can–and do–shape the future of tech.
“Our goal is to support organizations that are empowering women and girls on a global level,” says June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation, a charitable arm of one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers. The Foundation fosters social change in global and local communities, with a focus on empowering women and girls. “This World Pulse initiative is a great example of how we can rally voices on this important issue.”
When corporations divert rivers, when governments displace communities, and when the constant human desire for “more” disrupts the safety of our environment, women and children are often the first to suffer. Access to clean water, a full belly, and a safe place to sleep at night are rights humans should have at birth.
What can we do when these natural rights are violated?
Global Greengrants Fund, also known as Greengrants, seeks to answer this question by taking action. By committing to a program based on participatory grantmaking, Greengrants connects under-served and under-funded communities with the resources and mentorship they need to fight for justice.
Well folks, we’re off the charts, quite literally. Vulnerable people are dying at an alarming rate. Markets are dropping and jumping and dropping again as more people test positive for COVID-19. Health care workers are risking their lives by going to work, and many of us are spending more time social distancing than humanity may have ever tried before. It’s all quite surreal. And we’re not even talking about the gendered impacts yet.
Some leaders in philanthropy are responding to the health crisis with concern and plans to help.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a Donor Funding for COVID-19 Response list, and there you can find organizations funding the research and the medical response to the unprecedented outbreak. Most of the funding listed here is going to China, and all of this funding is brand new, starting in January 2020.
As a feminist, reading the news that Jeff Bezos has pledged $10 billion to fight climate change feels jarring, and a little frightening, especially as I scanned through several articles and realized there was no real plan for all this money, and no mention of gender as part of the strategy. I started to feel a little like a wife learning that her husband wants to work on improving their marriage, so he’s bought a boat to prove it, without considering whether she like boats or has any interest in the sport.
Slow your roll, Jeff. It seems like a better plan would be to step back and take a look at what the business you created has done to women, men, children, workers, the environment, and the global economy, and figure out a path to a more sustainable business model for Amazon.
(Feb. 11, 2020) Today the 1,000 Dreams Fund (1DF), a national nonprofit that provides micro-grants that support the dreams of talented young women, announces the expansion of the BroadcastHER Academy (powered by Allied Esports & HyperX) into the first-ever esports and gaming fellowship program for high potential women interested in pursuing careers in the industry – whether in-front or behind the camera. Partners include premier esports entertainment company Allied Esports and HyperX Gaming.
“In order for the esports and gaming industry to continue to thrive, a diverse and talented workforce is needed – and women must have a seat at the table,” says 1,000 Dreams Fund Founder and CEO Christie Garton. “We believe that the Academy, with further investment and support by our partners, can become a talent pool for our partners and the industry, while providing a clearer pathway for women who want to thrive in the industry.”
On January 14, Technovation celebrated the official start of the 2020 Technovation Girls Challenge. The annual competition teaches teams of girls and nonbinary-identifying young people the basics of coding as they work together to build a mobile app that solves a problem within their communities.
Over twelve weeks, students will study Technovation’s coding-focused curriculum as they combine their efforts to imagine, design, and build a functional mobile app that targets common issues like domestic violence, assault, climate change, and bullying. At the end of the program, an online panel of judges selects 50 Finalists to present at the annual Technovation World Summit, held this year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in August.
New City-Based Initiative to Increase Women in Tech in the U.S. Kicks Off in Chicago
January 28, 2020 Pivotal Ventures, together with Break Through Tech, SecondMuse, and several leading social organizations, announced today a new initiative, Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities, designed to accelerate the representation and leadership of women in tech through the development of inclusive tech hubs across the U.S. With a $50 million investment from Pivotal Ventures, the initiative will focus on three U.S. cities over five years – kicking-off in Chicago in January 2020.
As local tech ecosystems grow, GET Cities looks to engage students from the first college course, to women in the current workforce, to female founders and investors. The initiative aims to create collaborative models that can be replicated in other growing innovation hubs by bringing together key stakeholders to invest and align resources and create shared goals for women in tech across academia, non-profit, government, venture capital, and business sectors in each selected city. The goal is to maximize the impact of local women-in-tech efforts, crowd in other funders, and foster local coordination that can accelerate the pace of change, nationally.
The gaming world Renaissance continues this week with an exciting new announcement from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation. In its 2020-2021 scholarship season, the ESA Foundation is introducing the first-ever college eSports program for women and minorities.
Yes, it’s true—kids can now pay for college with their video game skills!
We’ve written before about the growing commitment to diversity and inclusion in games. The ESA Foundation is a longstanding leader in this commitment, recognizing the growing demand for tech-savvy employees in the games industry, as well as the necessity to draw these creators from a variety of backgrounds.