The Butterfly Effect: Tracking the Growth of Women’s Funds

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute released a new report today, detailing the landscape of women’s funding in the U.S. (Image credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute)

Today, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released a new report called, “Women’s Foundations and Funds: a Landscape Study.” It presents a range of updated data and new insights into a major branch of women’s philanthropy — one that has grown significantly over the last few decades. It follows up on a report of a similar nature in 2009 that focused on organizations within the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), but this newer study widened its scope beyond that particular philanthropic community. Elizabeth M. Gillespie, doctoral candidate at the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, authored the report, and it was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Disrupting Philanthropy’s Status Quo by Convening on Gender

Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California. (Image Credit: WFC)

“I recently went to the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery Alabama. It’s an incredibly powerful place, but the stories of women are not as prominent as they could be,” says Surina Khan, Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of California (WFC), in a recent interview about the principles guiding her leadership.

The experience of visiting the Legacy Museum reinforced for Khan the importance of gender justice impact assessments — of organizations and institutions regularly assessing whether they are paying enough attention to gender issues. Since returning to the helm of WFC in 2014, Khan has taken an increasingly intentional approach to employing a gender lens to everything they do, meaning from caterers to banking services to program grantees, it’s all about doing business with partners who align with WFC’s values.

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Testing Rape Kits: How Feminist Philanthropy Can Help

End the Backlog, a project of the Joyful Heart Foundation, tracks local, state, and national efforts to test rape kits. (Image Credit: End the Backlog)

A massive backlog of untested rape kits has long plagued the criminal justice system and undermined efforts to foreground sexual assault as a major problem worthy of serious investigation. Sexual assault survivors and activists have estimated that around 250,000 rape kits remain untested.

Crucially, addressing the backlog isn’t just a matter of garnering convictions and getting sexual assault perpetrators off the streets though that’s certainly part of it. It’s also about justice for survivors, putting issues that disproportionately affect women at the fore, and achieving some degree of increased safety for women and girls. And feminist philanthropy efforts have a direct role to play in achieving all of these goals.

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Longtime Women’s Foundation CEO to Step Down

Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has announced the retirement of Lee Roper-Batker as President and CEO, a big change for one of the largest and most influential women’s foundations in the country.

Effective January 3, 2020, Roper-Batker will step down, after leading the foundation for 18 years.

Her service to the sector is significant. Since becoming the foundation’s President and CEO in 2001, Roper-Batker has presided over a period of growth and expansion that included increasing the organization’s grantmaking by 840%. She also helped established groundbreaking programs to protect women and girls from sexual trafficking including MN Girls Are Not For Sale, launched in 2011, a prescient project that helped raise awareness about sexual abuse and trafficking of women and girls before the #MeToo movement.

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Partnering for Power: NYWF Grants $11 Million for Gender Equality

The New York Women’s Foundation has announced a record-breaking $11 million in funding for 2018.

“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.

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A New Award for Women of Color Environmental Leaders

Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award will provide $10,000 to up five women environmental leaders of color.

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.”

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Researching the Intersections: RI’s Women of Color Suffer More Poverty

A new report from Women’s Fund of Rhode Island discusses how women of color in Rhode Island suffer higher rates of poverty. (Graphic courtesy of report infographic)

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.

Related:

Interview with The Woman Project: “Reproductive Freedom is Essential”

Ms. Foundation Shifts Strategic Course Toward Women of Color

Post Election Buzz: Women’s Funds Welcome New Reflective DemocracyRead More

18 Orgs Receive $20 Million in #MeToo Funding From CBS

Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation (Image Credit: Donna F. Aceto) The New York Women’s Foundation received $2.25 million from CBS.

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.

Related: New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

The organizations are:

  • Catalyst
  • 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
  • Press Forward
  • Producers Guild of America Foundation
  • RAINN
  • STRIVE International
  • 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 metoofund@nywf.org.

Related:

NY Women’s Foundation Launches #MeToo Fund with $1 Million Start

New York Women’s Foundation Announces Additional $4 Million in Grants for 2017

NYWF Receives $300 K for Artistic and Gender-Based Justice Reforms

Women’s Funds Deploy $58.4 Million in Funding in Two Years

NY Women’s Foundation Centers on Gender with New Justice FundRead More

Year-End Thoughts and My Interview for Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

Happy Holidays from Philanthropy Women Editor and Publisher Kiersten Marek

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.

Related:

Research Reveals Common Traits for Gender Equality Givers

Small But Mighty: Women’s Fund of Rhode Island Makes New Round of Grants

Women’s Funds Deploy $58.4 Million in Funding in Two Years

Kathy LeMay on Regenerating Courage as a Social Change Agent

WFN Launches New Resource and Community Hub for Women EntrepreneursRead More

WFN’s Cynthia Nimmo Reflects on 2018 and Future of Feminism

Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, shares her epiphanies about this past year, and her vision of a more feminist future to come.

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? 

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