I Am A Scientist: Changing How We See Women In Science

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. 

I am a scientist
Stephanie Fine Sasse, Founder of The Plenary Co. (Image Credit: Eric Shilling)

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.

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Verizon Commits $7.5 Mil to Small Business Recovery Fund

Another corporate funder has stepped in to help small business in this time of economic uncertainty. Verizon recently announced another $2.5 million commitment to small businesses, bringing total funding for the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund to 7.5 million dollars.

The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund supports diverse businesses impacted by COVID-19 with the facilitation of Local Initiatives Support Corporation. (Image Credit: LISC)

“Small businesses across the country are confronting extreme economic challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” writes the communications giant in the description of the program. “Financial support at this critical time can make the difference between staying in business or closing permanently, leading to lost income, jobs and economic stability.”

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Going On the Record to Fight for Gender Equality

With COVID-19 dominating news feeds, it’s more important than ever before to keep our attention on movements like #MeToo and the fight for gender equality. The music industry, like many male-dominated fields, is rife with stories of harassment and assault. And the disconcerting trend we see over and over in cases of sexual assault pops up in the music industry, too: the silence of women scared that speaking up will mean losing their careers.

From left to right: Sil Lai Abrams, Drew Dixon and Sheri Hines attending Sundance Film Festival, Park City, USA – 26 Jan 2020. (Image Credit: Photo by Katie Jones/Variety/Shutterstock)

Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick seek to break this mold in On the Record, an intense and poignant account of one woman’s fight to tell her story. Drew Dixon, formerly a music executive at Def Jam Recordings and Arista Records, is one of the first women of color to speak up publicly about sexual assault at the hands of a prominent industry giant. On the Record tells her story, and those of several other women alleging sexual assault, harassment, or rape by music mogul Russell Simmons.

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Liveblog: Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color

Kiersten Marek, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, opened up today’s webinar, “Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color,” with a welcome to the speakers and audience.

She introduced the webinar with a discussion on the idea behind Philanthropy Women. Partially inspired by NoVo Foundation’s bold commitment of $90 million in funding for women and girls of color in 2016, Philanthropy Women launched in January of 2017 to cover this kind of intersectional feminist giving approach and others like it. However, with NoVo’s recent shuttering of programs for women and girls of color, the funding landscape for addressing domestic violence against women of color is facing some big changes.

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Empowering Black Women Entrepreneurs with the Doonie Fund

Kathryn Finney didn’t learn her grandmother’s real name until she turned 10 years old. Doonie Hale was an entrepreneur, a single mom, and the owner/operator of her own business as a seamstress in Milwaukee. Her story, her spirit, and her work inspire Kathryn Finney’s work today as the Founder of digitalundivided and The Doonie Fund.

digitalundivided (DID) serves as a catalyst for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. The Doonie Fund, created by DID Founder Kathryn Finney, has offered micro investments of $100 to more than 500 Black women entrepreneurs since April 2020. (Image Credit: DID)

“I was 10 years old when I learned that my grandmother’s real first name is Kathryn,” says Finney. “The lessons the original Kathryn taught me about being a Black woman entrepreneur, about creating beauty, is the reason why I’m here today.”

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Several New Funds Launch to Support Diverse Women

With so much disparity in the way that COVID impacts different communities and demographics, it is good to see many stories in the news about diverse women coming together to bring resources to those in need. In recent weeks, new funding efforts led by women of color have launched in several states across the country including Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Georgia. In addition, new national efforts have launched to help Black women entrepreneurs, and to understand and address the intersectionality of environment, race, and gender.

Consider Something Better, a new fund launched by Lauren Napier and Whitney Brown, will encourage corporations to fund companies owned by Black women. (Image Credit: Consider Something Better)

New Funds Seek to Address Racism, Sexism

Among these new initiatives is a new fund hosted by She Can Win, an organization started in 2013 in Philadelphia to support black women entrepreneurs. She Can Win recently pooled membership dues to create a new foundation and made four initial grants to organizations on the frontlines of reproductive justice, supporting young mothers, and helping survivors heal from injustice.

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Equality Can’t Wait Challenge Launches With $30 Million to Give

Editor’s Note: The following announcement was provided by Lever for Change, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Affiliate.

Equality Can’t Wait Challenge

Launched on June 16, 2020, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will award $30 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030. Hosted by Pivotal Ventures, the investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates, the Challenge seeks to accelerate the pace of progress for more women of all backgrounds to be in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in their homes, workplaces, and communities – because equality can’t wait. Applicants must register online by Tuesday, September 1, 2020.

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Upcoming Webinar: Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color

Join us at 2:00 PM ET on June 25th for the next edition in the Philanthropy Women webinar series: “Funding to End Violence Against Women of Color.”

This important discussion comes at a critical time: as the COVID-19 crisis continues to play a dangerous role in the rise of domestic violence cases; as demonstrations continue in response to the deaths of people of color at the hands of police officers; and as people join together around the world to call for action on behalf of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other women and people of color who deserve to have their stories heard.

The webinar will focus on ways philanthropy can help to end violence against women of color. With the tragic death of Breonna Taylor, we see how women’s lives are snuffed out with no repercussions. Black women in the US are more likely to experience domestic violence, be arrested for it, and be murdered by an intimate partner. This webinar will focus on key strategies funders can take to support women of color as they fight for their right to live and prosper.

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Pascale Sykes Foundation on COVID and Sunsetting

The number of small businesses facing hardship due to COVID-19 continue to rise every day. In partnership with New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC), the Pascale Sykes Foundation is building a safety net for local New Jersey businesses impacted by the pandemic. The announcement comes alongside the Foundation’s intention to sunset operations in the next few years–and their intention to make as big of an impact as possible before closing their doors.

Frances P. Sykes (right) speaks with staff members at the Pascale Sykes Foundation. (Photo Credit: Pascale Sykes Foundation)

On April 23, the Foundation announced its commitment to the expansion of the THRIVE South Jersey Initiative, a program designed to combat economic hardship in four South Jersey counties. In light of COVID-19, NJCC and the Foundation introduced zero-based interest rate loans for small businesses in Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties.

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Global Resilience Fund Offers Flex Funding for Women and Girls

COVID-19 puts pressure on all of us, but many women and girls are at higher risk of danger and oppression during these unprecedented times. A crisis like COVID-19 makes the widespread effects of issues like abuse, domestic violence, and rising barriers to educational, financial, and social survival much more intense–and often, much more deadly. The new Global Resilience Fund for Girls and Young Women seeks to answer this understated emergency with rapid, flexible funding to activist groups led by girls and young women.

The Global Resilience Fund is a worldwide collective of funders committed to supporting young women and girl activists with emergency funding as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. (Image Credit: Global Resilience Fund)

The Global Resilience Fund supports informal collectives, registered organizations, and unregistered community groups led by girls, young women, and trans and intersex young people around the world. To reach populations that may otherwise have a difficult time obtaining funding, the Global Resilience Fund only offers grants to organizations with a budget of less than $50,000 per year. Successful applicants can receive “fully flexible rapid response grants” worth up to $5,000.

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