In March 2020, the National Domestic Workers Alliance announced the Coronavirus Care Fund, a campaign to raise $4 million in emergency relief funds for domestic workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Domestic workers, a large percentage of whom are women, immigrants, and people of color, are among the unsung heroes on the front lines of the pandemic. They take care of homes, families, and people who are at high risk of catching the virus, like the elderly and people with chronic illnesses. What’s more, many domestic workers find themselves faced with the COVID-19 crisis without any kind of support network, savings to fall back on, or union to protect their rights.
If you had the next $150,000 idea, would your job get in the way of making that idea a reality?
The Workers Lab is a funding outlet and think tank dedicated to finding real-world solutions for the problems workers face around the world. As the backbone of companies, countries, and economies, workers are the drivers of transformation in society, but they’re often the first to be cast aside during events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of displacements and delays caused by COVID-19, The Workers Lab recently extended the application deadline for its Spring 2020 Innovation Fund award cycle to April 22. COVID impact has also led to the decision to cancel the Innovation Fund Finalist Showcase, typically held in San Francisco after each application cycle. This year, The Workers Lab is looking into virtual presentation options instead.
Solidago Foundation might only have $5 million in assets, but you wouldn’t know it from their leadership among social justice funders, especially when it comes to supporting women at the grassroots.
“We are small, we don’t move a lot of dollars, but we move big ideas and are deeply committed to being in community in the arena where we hold our positional power,” said Sarah Christiansen, the Program Director for Environmental Justice and Inclusive Economy.
This outsized role is highly visible in the nascent funding for solidarity economy, an organizing framework that often overlaps with new economy, economic democracy, cooperative economy, and/or inclusive economy. It is characterized by economic initiatives and enterprises that are community-controlled, democratic, sustainable, committed to social and racial justice, mutualistic, cooperative, and respectful of diverse approaches.
As I scour the internet in my never-ending quest to know more about feminist strategies in philanthropy, I don’t often come across union support as a primary strategy. The Ms. Foundation for Women does some work in this area with its support of the Miami Worker’s Center and the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, but supporting unions like the American Federation of Teachers or National Nurses United does not appear to be a primary focus of most feminist philanthropy strategies.
Consequently, this article on Apolitical by Odette Chalaby garnered my attention as one that progressive women donors might want to read and think about in terms of how they are aligning their strategy with union activity. There are many potential benefits for women’s empowerment to supporting unions that are primarily comprised of women.
First, some background on the problem:
Women in Unions Have Gender Pay Gaps that are Half the Size
While unions are often seen as largely white and male, it’s Hispanic women that stand to gain the most from membership in the US today.