“These extraordinarily demanding times call for increased responsiveness, investment, and collaboration from philanthropy,” said Ana Oliveira, The New York Women’s Foundation’s President and CEO, upon announcing a record $11 million in grants for 2018 to 175 community organizations. “Our 2018 grantmaking expresses the Foundation’s increased response to the needs of historically underinvested communities most impacted by poverty and violence.”
The New York Women’s Foundation (The Foundation) has been at the forefront of gender equality philanthropy for several decades. From 2017 to 2018, grantmaking from the foundation increased by $3 million, breaking its previous record of $8 million, a 27% increase in just one year. If the New York Women’s Foundation continues giving at this rate, in another five years, its giving could reach over $25 million per year.
This week, Rachel’s Network launched the Catalyst Award as a new way to build women’s leadership in environmental work. The awards will recognize as many as five women of color who are making a significant impact on environmental issues in communities across the United States.
Each award winner will receive $10,000 as well as networking and mentorship support throughout the year.
Rachel’s Network works at the intersection of gender equality and environmentalism, providing $1.7 million in collective funding grants since its founding aimed at addressing both climate change and women’s rights. Rachel’s Network received the Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership from Philanthropy Women in January of 2019 for its exceptional work in growing gender equality movements intersectionally with environmental work.
This award is particularly noteworthy for its integration of both race and gender issues in addressing diversity in environmental work. In addition, the award creators are widening the lens on what it means to make an impact on environmental work by inviting women from the arts, agriculture, law, journalism, education, and faith communities to apply for the awards.
“We want this award to be the connective tissue between the wide landscape of existing fellowships for emerging leaders of color and executive leadership,” said Fern Shepard, President of Rachel’s Network, in a press release announcing the new awards. “We hope our investment catalyzes not only individual women’s career trajectories, but the environmental movement as a whole in becoming more representative and just.”
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.
Women of color comprise roughly a quarter of Rhode Island’s female population. They earn significantly lower wages than White women, and are much more likely to be poor. Among women 18-64 years of age, 9 percent of White women are poor, while 18 percent of Asian women, 22 percent of Black women and 20 percent of Latina women are below the poverty line. Among those over 65, there is an even greater discrepancy: 31 percent of Latina women are poor, three-and-half times the rate of White women.
Black and Latina women are more likely to be employed than are White women. The labor-force participation rate for females over the age of 16 in Rhode Island is 60 percent, and is lower for Whites (59 percent participation rate) than it is for Black (61 percent) and Latina (65 percent) women. One reason may be that young White women are more likely to be students than are women of color. White and Asian women hold four-year degrees at much higher rates than do Latina and Black women. Of course, these differences in educational attainment are a major factor affecting wages, and are among the reasons Latina woman can expect to earn $1.2 million less over the course of 40 years of work than a non-Hispanic White man.
Two in five Rhode Island women work in health care, social assistance or educational services. Women of color are particularly likely to labor in these fields, often in lower-paid positions like personal care aides and nursing assistants. Eighty-seven percent of Rhode Island’s healthcare support workers are women, and women of color account for nearly half of these workers. It is estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would increase the wages of 96,700 Rhode Island women (either by raising their wage to $15, or as a result of increases as pay scales are adjusted).
Another area where women of color are at a disadvantage is housing, as a much larger percentage of their income goes to housing costs than is the case for White women. Latino women spend nearly half of their income (48 percent) on housing. The rates for Black, Asian and White women are 45, 39 and 30 percent respectively. Moreover, Rhode Island has the second lowest home ownership rate for households of color in the country.
“While we often hear about the gender wage gap and its subsequent wealth gap for women, this report really puts a spotlight on how deep the inequities go for our sisters of color,” said Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. “Efforts to increase the minimum wage and ensure fair pay are just a few initiatives that we are working on with community partners. However, more needs to be done. We want to hear from the community as to how best to use the findings of this report.”
The WFRI will hold a series of community forums to share information and invite ideas about how best to address the inequities. As part of the series, the Fund will host a ticketed event “Cocktails & Conversations: Women of Color Research” on January 30 from 6-8pm at the Tech Collective in Providence. Panelists will include Rachel Flum, Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute; Angela Ankoma, Executive Vice President of the United Way of Rhode Island and Traniesha West, Community Organizer for Working Families.
The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island was founded in 2001 as a field of interest fund, and became a 501(c) in 2005. In addition to research and advocacy, it makes grants to local programs that improve the lives of women and girls. The Providence, Rhode Island-based Economic Progress Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization founded in 1999 by Linda Katz and Nancy Gerwitz, is dedicated to improving the economic well-being of low and modest-income Rhode Islanders.
While Rhode Island is a small state of approximately one million people, and regional and local economies and demographics vary across the country, gender and race disparities are found everywhere. Increasingly women’s foundations and other non-profits are upping their efforts in improving the lives of women of color. Among the major funders in this area is the NoVo Foundation which has recently allocated $90 million in funding to empower girls of color in the U.S. Southeast, and the Ms. Foundation which has committed $25 million to funding programs targeting women of color.
CBS corporation announced today that 18 organizations will receive $20 million in funding to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Many of these organizations are longtime players in the women’s rights space, including New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and the National Women’s Law Center, while others are brand new to the field, like TIME’S UP. These grants are part of CBS’s separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, which stated that the donations would be deducted from his severance pay.
“These organizations represent different critical approaches to combatting sexual harassment, including efforts to change culture and improve gender equity in the workplace, train and educate employees, and provide victims with services and support,” said a press release from CBS announcing the grantees, and tying the grants to their “ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture.”
CBS worked with expert advisory firm RALLY, to develop criteria for making these grants, which were given to organizations targeting three goals: increasing women in positions of power, educating and changing culture, and supporting survivors of gender-based violence.
While this is definitely good news for feminist philanthropy, some would argue that $20 million from CBS should be just the start, and that many corporations in the U.S. have much more work to do in order to address sexual harassment. For starters, other big media corporations who have had similar issues should follow suit, including Fox News (Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes), NBC (Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw), PBS (Garrison Keillor), ESPN (Donovan McNabb) and the NFL Network (Heath Evans and Marshall Faulk). There is still a great deal of compensation due to community-based #MeToo movements that are working to address gender inequality and create a healthier and safer culture for all.
Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) – re-granting
Free the Bid
Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project
Futures Without Violence
Girls for Gender Equity / ‘me too.’ Movement
International Women’s Media Foundation
National Women’s Law Center
New York Women’s Foundation – re-granting
Producers Guild of America Foundation
Sundance Institute’s Momentum program
TIME’S UP Entertainment
TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
Women in Film Los Angeles
Women’s Media Center
New York Women’s Foundation Receives $2.25 Million Grant from CBS to support the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies
As part of the grantmaking from CBS, The New York Women’s Foundation received $2.25 million in funding to support The Foundation’s Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (The Fund). The Fund will take a systemic approach to addressing the problem of gender-based violence by beginning a new partnership with women’s funds in the community.
The partnership’s initial membership includes the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Women’s Foundation of California, Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts and Women’s Funding Network. “Other public women’s foundations are welcome to join the partnership,” according to a press release announcing the grant.
The #MeToo Fund is led by Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, and Tarana Burke, Founder and Leader of the ‘me too.’ Movement. Based in New York, the #MeToo Fund recently made its first set of eight grants to support organizations around the country working to address gender-based violence and support healing.
Organizations interested in applying for grants from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies should email email@example.com.
One of the main reasons I started Philanthropy Women was to shine a spotlight on women givers, because I noticed that knowing more about them made me feel better about the world. Rather than logging on to Twitter and reading the toxic political discourse, I decided to fill up my Twitter feed with women’s funds and other feminist philanthropy thought leaders. The result was astonishing — I was suddenly getting new information about so many issues related to women — their health, their money, their professional lives. The process of turning my attention to progressive feminist philanthropy also turned me into a feminist donor, as I realized how well women’s giving to gender equality aligned with my own social justice interests.
As a specialty publisher in the feminist philanthropy field, Philanthropy Women strives to contribute significantly to the pool of stories about gender equality givers. Our guiding belief is that publishing these stories helps other people activate their own change process and do more to address gender inequality in their own lives and in the world around them.
The stories we cover on Philanthropy Women are enjoying more attention all the time, and are also subsequently getting attention on larger platforms, both within philanthropy and in the mainstream media. In addition, more of our content is now making it into the real time news on Google, Bing, and other large search engines. This means we are doing exactly what the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s research says we need to do if we want to create more gender equality givers — adding to the information about how individuals and groups are giving to this area of philanthropy. By your joining us in watching and learning about feminist philanthropy, you are aiding in the process of creating more donors for the sector.
I’ll be taking a break here for a few weeks, to more fully be present for the holidays with loved ones, but before I go I’d like to share the interview I recently did with the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, since I think it does a good job of distilling my beliefs about feminist philanthropy and why it is so important in the world today.
Peace and joy to you and yours as we head into the New Year!
My Interview with Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
How did you come to know about the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island?
WFRI first came onto my radar when I saw the work you do with educating legislatures about issues important to women. I followed WFRI’s leadership on this from the fund’s founding Executive Director, Marcia Coné, to later Jenn Steinfeld, and now on to Kelly Nevins. It is inspiring to see how WFRI researches and articulates such critical information that helps guide public policy.
What is the background of Philanthropy Women and what is your mission?
I started Philanthropy Women after two and half years of writing for Inside Philanthropy with David Callahan, who introduced me to the world of feminist philanthropy. I soon realized that I was overflowing with story ideas about feminist philanthropy and decided to develop my own platform to ensure the news and information I was publishing was making it into public discourse. Our mission at Philanthropy Women is to shine a spotlight on strategies for creating a more gender equal world, as well as the history of women’s giving for gender equality, so that more people know about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.
At Philanthropy Women, we believe that feminist philanthropy has the capacity to change the game for so many facets of living — for the economy, for politics, for relationships, for corporations, for nonprofits, for animals, for the environment. It is a philosophy and a strategy that we believe could help humans live more peacefully on earth, as it influences all systems to be more inclusive and relational.
How do you see the work you do with Philanthropy Women intersecting with the work of WFRI?
On the most practical level, we are quite related — sort of like cousins in the feminist philanthropy ecosystem. The Women’s Funding Network, of which WFRI is a member, is the fiscal sponsor for Philanthropy Women, which means they help me access grant funding to produce our content. Also, as a publisher focused on women’s funding, I am always keeping an eye on WFRI, and I’ve written several posts about your grant-making and other activities. I enjoy attending WFRI events and meeting other members, so it feels like my local chapter of the women’s funding world.
What advice do you have for women who want to engage in philanthropy, and in particular support organizations like ours?
Forgive me for quoting a corporate slogan, but just do it! I really enjoy being in the community of women givers, and have had some wonderful experiences going to conferences and retreats. Everyone has to find their tribe at some point, and I definitely feel like I found my tribe with progressive women givers. We are concerned with solving big problems that will make the world a better place, and it’s working. Women are moving into leadership in greater numbers. Men are openly proclaiming that they are feminists and are doing more to support gender equality. People are beginning to recognize the negative impacts of inequality, domination, and exploitation at all levels of society.
Is there anything else you feel is important to note about the current environment of women in philanthropy?
It’s encouraging to watch women figure out how to leverage their personal and financial power in order to address gender equality. If you are interested in knowing more about women givers, or in sharing a story about women’s philanthropy and how it has impacted your life, I would love to hear from you.
Like many organizations in the women’s funding community, Women’s Funding Network had a robust year of working on the issues most important to women, including financial empowerment, collaborating with men as allies, and strategic leveraging as a donor and an advocate.
To go a little deeper into this past year of activity in feminist philanthropy, we decided to talk to Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, and hear about what it felt like to run one of the most important organizations in the women’s funding space.
By operating regionally or at the state level, women’s funds add an essential level of leadership to gender equality work, since they are not controlled by government or corporate entities. This gives women’s funds the freedom to speak and act on issues that impact women, with less fear of political or corporate retaliation. By forming large collaboratives like the Women’s Funding Network, women’s funds are able to advocate for progress on the issues that women are dealing with on the ground — harassment, for example, or lack of access to health care — and support ways to address issues systemically through partnership between all sectors of society — business, nonprofit, and government.
This is why I support Women’s Funding Network as a donor. This year, I am urging all feminists to support WFN as a way to address gender issues and help us build a healthier world for all. In Cynthia Nimmo’s responses below, you will hear how WFN increased knowledge and strategy for gender equality on so many critical issues this past year. I am confident that WFN brings added strength to gender equality movements both in the U.S. and globally, and I hope you will join me in supporting the critical role they play in moving toward a more gender equal world.
And now, some questions and responses with Cynthia Nimmo:
Kiersten Marek: What were some of the highlights of this year at WFN?
There are so many reasons to support your state’s women’s fund. Here in Rhode Island, our women’s fund plays a critical role in addressing gender equality with grantmaking, legislative advocacy, and in-depth research. All of this work helps to guide social change strategy and increases public awareness about gender equality in the state.
On Giving Tuesday, our household is pledging $500 for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. We support all of the goals of WFRI, but in particular, we are interested in supporting the organization’s legislative advocacy. According to WFRI, $500 will pay for “14 hours of written and verbal testimony for legislative hearings on Fair Pay, Reproductive Freedom and Freedom from Sexual Harassment.”
This is money well-spent. Every time we discuss the issues related to gender equality in a legislative setting, we may not win immediately, but we teach our legislators important lessons about the issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes it takes several lessons before change can occur, but every lesson increases the likelihood of that change.
Now is a great time to donate to WFRI, because the organization has a $10,000 match pledge. From WFRI, read on:
We have a $10,000 challenge match to meet.
A founding board member has offered a $10,000 challenge grant for us to relaunch our Women’s Policy Institute, which trains women to advocate for issues that affect women and girls in Rhode Island. She’ll match $.50 on the dollar when we raise $20,000 to relaunch this powerful program. Donate today towards WPI and have a direct impact on gender equity in Rhode Island.
But Wait! There’s More! Every dollar you give to WFRI has a direct local and statewide impact. Together with our supporters, WFRI is working hard to impact issues affecting women and girls statewide. With your help in 2018, we’ve:
Supported research on working women of color and the unique challenges they experience in the workplace, taking a deeper dive into the data of last year’s Status of Working Women in Rhode Island report
Provided training to nearly 200 women in salary negotiation skills, finding mentors and learning to advocate for causes that impact their lives
Hosted six Cocktails and Conversations panels on topics such as Feminism is a Male Issue and Intersectionality in Feminism
Made $50,000 in grants with a gender lens focus
Advocated for Reproductive Freedom, Fair Pay, a $15 Minimum Wage and Freedom from Sexual Harassment
This is just a quick post before taking a few days off to enjoy time with family and friends. We will be covering several important events in upcoming posts, including a fascinating call on Gender Alpha with Suzanne Biegel and David Bank, where they discussed how “Gender Alpha” is all about identifying the specific dividends that gender lens investing yields. Biegel and Bank are co-producers of November’s Gender-Smart Investing Summit in London. Guests on the call included Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners, which specializes in gender lens investing and research.
And one other quick note to acknowledge the significance of the recent elections, where voter turnout was higher than it has been in 104 years. That’s right — the last time voter turnout was as high as it was in 2018 was in 1914, before women even had the right to vote. Now that women and millennials are getting into the driver’s seat with social change, we hope to see even better voter turnout in 2020. I don’t know about you, but I am mighty thankful that people are finally getting the message (it seems!) about the importance of civic engagement. That could mean in 2020 we elect a President that gets us back on track in terms of valuing safety, diversity, and systems change to address inequality.
Coming up soon, we’ll also be providing some news on Women Moving Millions and its new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, and will be sharing and discussing WMM new Board Chair Mona Sinha’s Education Curriculum for WMM members, which will be launching in February.
I can see the travel brochures now: Come to Seattle, home of some of the biggest feminist funding gatherings in recent history!
Not only did the Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions convene in Seattle this year, but now the Women Donors Network has also paid a visit to Emerald City, making Seattle a central destination for feminist philanthropists in 2018. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored Women Moving Millions for their event in September, and hosted the Women’s Funding Network for an evening event at the same time.
Women Donors Network’s gathering began just two days after the mid-term elections, offering a unique opportunity for women donors to analyze how a more reflective democracy will influence key issues including climate change, health, and gun violence.
The three day gathering of Women Donors Network members also delved into studying the transformative movements of our time, including #MeToo and #Familiesbelongtogether. Sessions also focused on building inclusiveness in divisive times and working with WDN’s 501(c)4 sister organization, WDN Action, to discuss next steps for community advocacy. Senator Kamala Harris spoke at the conference and outlined a 2019 call to action for progressive advocacy. In the evening, The Seattle Foundation co-hosted an event called “Progressive Power Happy Hour” which allowed time for connecting with local leaders.
All of these meetings in Seattle suggests that there is more to come with women donors collaborating with large foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in order to supercharge feminist philanthropy. And, in fact, the Gates Foundation recently made one of the largest global pledges ever for the health of women and children, with its $200 million pledge to the Global Financing Facility, in conjunction with the Government of Norway and other international partners. This $200 million was joined with $360 million from the Government of Norway as the two largest gifts in the Global Financing Facility’s $1 billion dollar pledge for improving the health of the world’s neediest women and children.
People who have been incarcerated face a number of barriers in reintegrating into society. For women, girls and transgender communities, the difficulties can be even steeper. Oftentimes, the effects of incarceration can worsen problems related to housing and employment, and can have a devastating impact on children.
To address these problems, particularly for women, The New York Women’s Foundation recently announced the creation of The Justice Fund, which will aim to do more to dismantle mass incarceration, particularly for women, girls, and transgender people.
This effort is part of a seven-year mobilization of funding to address issues related to incarceration. A press release announcing the initiative stated that,”The fund is the first of its kind in the country to engage in criminal justice reform through a lens of gender and racial equity.”
“Our initiative will create a new paradigm for justice that dismantles unfair and biased systems and creates new paths for stability and opportunity in the lives of New York City women, families, and communities,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, in a press release announcing the new initiative. Part of the goal of this initiative in New York City will be to close Rikers Island and find alternative ways to promote justice, safety, and well-being.
More from the press release:
The fund will harness financial and other resources of a diverse set of funders committed to justice reform for women, TGNC (transgender non-conforming) individuals, families, and communities in New York City. Its framework for grantmaking will target organizations engaged in systems change and reform and community solutions and leadership.