As we reported both in October and December of 2023, the good work of the Fearless Fund has come under attack from right-wing extremists. The American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER) which is led by anti-affirmative activist Edward Blum, is the same conservative organization that convinced the Supreme Court to reject affirmative action criteria for college admissions in June 2023.
Since the Supreme Court decision, AAER has expanded its scope to target seemingly all efforts to promote social justice and equity. The Fearless Fund is a venture capital fund that provides pre-seed, seed-level, or Series A financing to businesses led by women of color. As their website states, “Our mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders building scalable, growth aggressive companies.”
The Climate Gender Equity Fund (CGEF) is a public-private partnership focused on catalyzing gender equity in climate finance. A year after launching, CGEF has announced the first cohort of women-led organizations selected to receive grants, each of which is focused on advancing gender-equitable climate action in Africa.
WomanHub, an accelerator in South Africa that supports female science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) business founders; and
M-Kayla Ventures, an incubator in Kenya that focuses on women entrepreneurs working on climate-smart agriculture solutions.
The founding members of CGEF include USAID, Amazon, Reckitt, Visa Foundation, and The UPS Foundation. Combined, they have committed $20 million to the fund; in addition, USAID announced an additional $5 million during the COP28 climate change conference.
Over the past few months we have been reporting on the Fearless Fund. This is a venture capital fund that seeks out businesses led by women of color and provides pre-seed, seed-level, or Series A financing. As their website states, “Our mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders building scalable, growth aggressive companies.”
Our last story on the Fearless Fund ran on 10/30/23, and reported that the Fearless Fund was ordered by the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta to suspend its Strivers Grant contest which awards $20,000 to small businesses that have at least one woman of color in a leadership role. The court ruled that considering applications only from women of color constitutes racial discrimination.
At Philanthropy Women, we pride ourselves on being able to stay ahead of the curve in recognizing ideas, discovering significant trends, and identifying the people who make these things happen. We are pleased to note that the The New Yorker is now following our lead. Several years ago, PW ran an interview with Leah Hunt-Hendrix. As a reminder, Hunt-Hendrix is a scion of Hunt Oil, founded by her maternal grandfather.
The August issue of The New Yorker ran a story that touches on many of the issues discussed on these pages. Attached below is a link to the interview with Leah that PW published previously. Our interview focused more on the hard news angle, discussing her foundation, Solidaire, and the work it does while the New Yorker article is a bit more chatty, with anecdotes of her family, social status, and the problems presented by being a progressive who happens to be the heir to an oil fortune.
Women and girls represent more than half of the population of the United States. Despite this, charitable giving to organizations serving them represents less than 2% of all philanthropic activity in the U.S. This is according to a new report published Wednesday, October 11 – the International Day of the Girl.
The Amplify Her® Foundation, a new private grantmaking foundation created to support the economic and social advancement of women changemakers from under-invested communities in New York City, held an official launch celebration. The foundation will also release “If She Can Make it Here,” a comprehensive research report that identifies the most significant barriers faced by women and girls from underserved communities in the city and interventions to help them overcome those obstacles and meet their full leadership potential.
“After years of working to advance women in the public, nonprofit and political arenas, what consistently stood out to me was the dearth of funding and support specifically for nonprofit organizations serving women and girls. Women and girls face unique challenges and yet funding is rarely tailored to their needs…” —Marti Speranza Wong, Amplify Her Foundation founder, executive director and board chair.
On September 5, Rhode Island held a special primary election to select the candidates to replace David Cicilline, who resigned as US Representative for USC District 1. The field for the Democratic candidate was crowded with 12 names on the ballot. Due to the deep Blue color of RI politics, the Democratic candidate, whoever was selected, was considered the odds-on favorite to win in the Special General Election in November.
As of June, Sabina Matos, the current Lt Governor, was leading comfortably with polling numbers surpassing 20% of the electorate. Matos is the first Dominican American elected to statewide office in the country and the first Black woman to hold statewide office in Rhode Island. She was supported by the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
This statistic is VERY disappointing. Southern Black Girls is a collective of Black women in philanthropy and they have made it their highest priority to disrupt the way philanthropy is done in the south. Their goal is to help change the status quo.
Southern Black Girls has been on a mission to raise $100 million over the next decade to financially empower the goals and dreams of Black girls and women across the south. Their signature giving vehicles – the Black Girl Dream Fund and the #BlackGirlJoyChallenge are starting to make those goals and dreams a reality.
As if you didn’t know, women face a steeper climb when seeking initial funding for business ventures. Cindy Gallop is doing a fantastic job in tracking this. In a series of Tweets, she linked to a number of articles on the subject.
The top link below discusses the types of questions potential investors ask founders. It turns out that, to no one’s surprise, women are asked different questions than men. The questions for women generally focus on potential losses, whereas men were asked about the potential for gain. The takeaway here is that, right from the get-go, men are seen as more likely to succeed, so they are asked about aspirations, hopes, and ideals. On the other hand, women are quizzed about strategies for minimizing losses.
Since July 21st, not a day has passed that I have not read about or discussed Barbie. Having finally seen it, I can say with certainty that I get the hype. Margot Robbie proves her incredible talent and range once again as stereotypical Barbie in the film. The sets and costumes lived up to every Barbie fantasy my 6-year-old self could have dreamed of. And the cherry on top was the use of the iconic Indigo Girls song, “Closer to Fine” as the anthem for Barbie’s journey from Barbieland to the real world.
Barbie as a product sold girls like me the dream that we could be anything, but as a 17-year-old woman, I now know the situation is a bit more complex. The Barbie movie plays with this contrast in ways that help us see the hollowness of American feminism, but the question remains what to do about this hollowness, and the movie doesn’t offer much help with that question.