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.

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Did You Vote? Do It Now, for the Sake of Reflective Democracy

democracy
Political Activism: Philanthropy Women publisher Kiersten Marek voted today in Rhode Island, and gave support to  local candidates running for city council, including Gail Harvey and Sarah Lee in Cranston.

It’s an election like no other, with record numbers of women running for office at the local, state, and national levels, and women everywhere becoming activist voters who want to see themselves represented in government. We are finally beginning to see more reflective democracy in action as women make it onto the ballot.

It’s a great time to be publishing about women’s philanthropy, as more women take on funding nonprofits that are supporting gender equality, not only in the U.S. but also globally. So far this year we’ve seen significant growth in new organizations committing to addressing gender-based violence and education for girls worldwide, including Girls, Inc, the Obama Foundation, and the #MeToo Fund headed by Tarana Burke.

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Feminist Grantmaking’s Connection to the New Relational Culture

Feminist Scholar Rebecca Walker is pictured here with Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, after delivering a lecture at Southern Methodist University in October of 2017. Walker and Hunt were in town to discuss the history of feminism and ways to develop a more relational culture.

The recent Kavanaugh hearings resurfaced a very old story about gender, power, and the truth of experience.  When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified, people everywhere had to grapple with the fact that early life relationships, and particularly sexual traumas, can drastically impact our lives.

In fact, while our dominant culture remains in denial about the prevalence and negative effects of sexual violence, thought leaders in feminist psychology and sociology have been calling attention to the problem for decades.  While sexual violence is an extreme form of domination and abuse, these thought leaders have demonstrated how gender-based violence is part of a continuum of control and exploitation that most women begin to experience more of as they hit adolescence.

As David Brooks wisely points out in his recent op-ed, Two Cheers for Feminism, “For thousands of years social thinking has been dominated by men — usually alpha men — who saw life as a place where warriors and traders went out and competed for wealth and power. These male writers were largely blind to the systems of care that undergirded everything else.” Brooks references Carol Gilligan, Niobe Way, Alisha Ali and Pedro Nuguero, in their new anthology called  “The Crisis of Connection,” for their ability to identify how the stereotypically masculine values of “self over relationships, individual success over the common good, the mind over the body, and thinking over feeling” have perpetuated harmful gender dynamics in relationships.

One way to reduce the harmful effects of gender inequality in our lives is by consciously practicing a different kind of being with our power — experiencing ourselves as having “power-with” other people, rather than “power-over” them. Despite growing social inequality, in our personal relationships, it is still possible to practice a “power-with” approach. One such approach is facilitated by a process called Safe Conversations.  

I recently attended a Safe Conversations training in New York, so that I could learn and teach others the skills to help people unpack the patriarchy and power dynamics in their personal lives. After decades of research and practice, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix have come out with Safe Conversations, a new way to engage in relationships, that makes it possible for people to experience deeper empathy and understanding.

How Does Safe Conversations Work?

The training I attended in New York involved multiple practice sessions, during which we broke out into groups of three’s and practiced being both members and facilitators of the structured conversations.  Within an hour of beginning the training, we had begun to engage in conversations that went deeply into a space of emotional revelation.  Facial expressions softened as the groups tried out speaking to each other with new, unfamiliar sentence stems like, “Let me see if I’ve got that. You said…” and “Is that what you are feeling?” and then listened in new ways, with an ear toward being able to reflect back as much of what they heard as they could.

This wasn’t the first time I had practiced the techniques. I had attended an online workshop with my husband in February of 2017, and since then, had been introducing the technique in small ways in my private practice, with astonishing results. I had seen mothers and daughters reach new understandings of their longtime emotional struggle. I had seen couples practice the technique and come away with a renewed commitment to making their relationship work. Even as people sometimes felt awkward or resisted, I saw how speaking in this new way, using Safe Conversations, was impacting them positively.

Safe Conversations helps us identify ways in which we experienced early relational challenges, and how those challenges impact our identity, as well as our sense of hope and possibility about ourselves, our families, and the larger community. The process teaches us how to both share appreciation for people in our lives, and how to safely tell the story of our own emotional challenges. Built into the process of Safe Conversations is a feedback loop that fosters validating and empathizing with each other’s emotional struggles. Essentially, Safe Conversations teaches us that everyone needs to be part of the answer to a more gender equal and relational world, and gives us the skills to connect better with others.

A parallel process of sorts has been building momentum in philanthropy recently with a strategy called participatory grantmaking, which helps donors and grantees build stronger relationships. Participatory grantmaking invites donors and grantees to become partners, with the central premise that the grantee has the experience to lead the way toward solutions. Organizations like NCRP, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and the Fund for Shared Insight, are adding to the chorus of philanthropy experts calling for more participatory grantmaking, with many large foundations joining the Fund for Shared Insight in the past year.

Three decades ago, Helen LaKelly Hunt was part of a small army of pioneering feminist founders of some of our country’s largest and most successful women’s foundations. By funding the start of these women’s funds, Hunt helped establish new community hubs for participatory grantmaking. Most women’s funds have been under-recognized practitioners of participatory grantmaking since inception, and these practices — of moving into relationship with the grantee, listening to and incorporating their feedback, and even of including grantees on boards and in the grantmaking process — have made women’s funds some of the most effective change agents in the philanthropic landscape.

In philanthropy, participatory grantmaking is teaching us to listen and value feedback in the donor-grantee relationship. This is a significant shift, but just as important are shifts that can take place in our own everyday relationships. With new techniques like Safe Conversations, we can all be stewards of stronger, more gender equal families and communities.

Editor’s Note: Kiersten Marek is trained as a Safe Conversations Leader and will be teaching her first Safe Conversations workshop on November 7, 2018. To learn more about future Safe Conversations workshops for both helping professionals and the general public, please email Kiersten at kiersten@philanthropywomen.org

Full disclosure: The Sister Fund (of which Helen LaKelly Hunt is co-founder) is a Lead Sponsor of Philanthropy Women. 

Related:

Women’s Funds Show Philanthropy the Way to Transparency, Diversity

Thought Leaders Discuss Origins of American Feminism, Parallels to Third Wave

Priscilla Chan and The Future of Inclusive Philanthropy

How to Reach Critical Mass for Gender Equality Movements

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$10 Million to Train Women’s Health Leaders at UCLA Med School

UCLA
Iris Cantor will endow a chair at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Funds will also help to train new leaders in the field of women’s health.

If you are a woman who needs medical care, it often becomes crystal clear to you that the health care system doesn’t understand your problems very well. As celebrity chef and gender equality advocate Padma Lakshmi put it at the recent Social Good Summit in New York, when speaking about her own difficulties getting care for endometriosis: “I realized there was a lot of misogyny in the health care system.”

But hopefully as we progress in medicine, misogyny will be rooted out, and more doctors will learn how to attend to the full spectrum of women’s medical concerns. To aid in that process, a $10 million commitment was recently made by philanthropist Iris Cantor to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. These funds will be used to advance the medical school’s work to educate and train both clinicians and researchers in the field of women’s health care.

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