A new learning institute for women of color will be created out of the former estate of Madam C.J. Walker, as the New Voices Foundation announced last week that it will purchase the site and repurpose it for women of color entrepreneurship.
Madam C. J. Walker was the founder of a hair care empire and a noted philanthropists of the early twentieth century, and is considered the first African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. A daughter of a slave who once worked as a laundress for less than a dollar a day, Madam C. J. Walker became a civil society champion for organizations like the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Race and gender play an important role in economic outcomes. In addition to the gender pay gap, women of color lag well behind white women in economic well-being.
A recent infographic “Rhode Island Women of Color 2018: A Snapshot” published by the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) indicates sharp disparities between white women and women of color across a range of economic indicators including wages, poverty, educational attainment and home ownership. The WFRI research was done in partnership with the Providence, Rhode Island-based Economic Progress Institute.
“Funny Girls is a philanthropic investment in building the pipeline for female leadership,” says Jenny Raymond, of the Harnisch Foundation’s (HF) program employing improv techniques to build girls’ leadership skills.
Raymond, who is HF Executive Director, and Carla Blumenthal, Funny Girls Program Manager, spoke to me by phone from the HF offices in New York.
It’s an auspicious time for a program devoted to building the next generation of female leaders as 2018 saw a historic number of diverse women elected to political office. “That didn’t happen overnight. It was brewing for a long time,” says Raymond, who sees Funny Girls as a tool to build on these gains.
As we round the bend on our second year here at Philanthropy Women, it’s time to celebrate a new batch of recipients for our leadership awards. The people and organizations chosen for these awards have all demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy this past year, and represent the growing diversity and strength of this work.
These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Breakthrough Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
It was an amazing year for women’s philanthropy. Amid an increasingly hostile political climate, women managed to get elected to public office in record numbers, partially due to the influence of women donors. In addition, the events of #MeToo and the Kavanaugh hearings served to highlight how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are, and how far we still have to go to become a culture that truly values women and prioritizes their safety and equality.
Despite the myriad challenges that young Black women face in the U.S. South, only 5.4 percent of all foundation funding in this region is focused on women and girls, and less than 1 percent on Black women and girls. To address this imbalance and empower southern Black females, LaTosha Brown of TruthSpeaks Consulting is coordinating a new initiative called the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (the Consortium), with support from the NoVo Foundation (NoVo). Brown has a clear, creative vision for this work, which she plans to orient around listening to Black girls and “Black joy.”
The New York Women’s Foundation distributed a record $8 million in 2017 for undertakings in line with its mission to create “an equitable and just future for women and families.” A vital part of this 31-year-old foundation’s work is drawing on local expertise to create and disseminate research on the needs and circumstances of women, girls, LGBTQI, and gender-nonconforming people.
In the fall of 2018, the foundation released part of a series called, Voices from the Field, which explores challenges and support strategies for low-income women in NYC during four major developmental periods: ages 0-8, 9-24, 25-59, and 60 and up. The newly released “Blueprint for Investing in Women Age 25 – 59” draws on data and expert interviews across academic, policy, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to identify systemic barriers and potential solutions for these populations.
The “Global Financing Facility” (GFF) might not be a familiar name for some in the U.S. philanthropy world, but it ranks among the most important organizations in the ongoing fight for global gender equality. Recently, GFF made a big pledge that is particularly noteworthy for its public/private collaboration, and for its attention to women. GFF is an international organization supported by the World Bank Group, and dedicated to improving the health of the planet’s most impoverished women and children.
Within the past year, the Women’s Media Center reports that coverage of #MeToo in the mainstream media has grown significantly. As awareness about the detrimental effects of sexual assault continues to grow in our culture, the New York Women’s Foundation is fostering real efforts to aid #MeToo survivors. In May of 2018, the foundation created the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies, and now that fund has made $840,000 in its first round of grant funding. This is a collaborative effort, housed and managed by The New York Women’s Foundation, with the grantmaking decisions being made jointly with Tarana Burke, founder and leader of the #MeToo Movement.
Today, in recognition of International Day of the Girl, the Obama Foundation has announced the launch of a new initiative that will empower adolescent girls around the world through education.
The initiative aims to support more than 1,500 grassroots organizations around the world that reduce barriers to education for girls such as early marriage, limited access, and lack of financial resources.
Michelle Obama appeared on the Today Show to make the announcement, emphasizing that “The stats show that when you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country.”