Ms. Foundation Shifts Strategic Course Toward Women of Color

The Ms. Foundation’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan targets low-income women, many of whom are women of color. (Photo Credit: Ms. Foundation Strategic Plan, Building Power: Advancing Democracy)

The nation’s oldest public women’s foundation recently announced that it will steer in a new direction over the next five years — toward growing its commitment to low-income women and women of color by more than $25 million.

In addition, the Ms. Foundation will form its first-ever political fund, which will support the legislative agenda for women and girls both nationally and locally.

With Teresa C. Younger at the helm, the  Ms. Foundation for Women is joining other big funders in the feminist philanthropy space, including the NoVo Foundation and Prosperity Together (the national coalition of women’s funds focused on low-income women and women of color) in making economic, social and cultural equality for women and girls of color a central feature of its strategic plan. “Women of color are a political force to be reckoned with,” said Younger, in a press release announcing the new strategic plan. “In 2018, we delivered unprecedented electoral wins in Alabama, Georgia, and New York — yet we are sorely underrepresented in philanthropic investment, with only 2% of that spending going to women and girls of color.”

The Ms. Foundation’s announcement comes at a time when women’s rights and equality are under new threat from regressive local and national political movements. The new grants from the Ms. Foundation will provide both financial support and capacity-building and strategic support. Another important feature of this new strategic plan will be its first-ever formation of a 501(c)(4) fund specifically designed to amplify political movements. “It’s time that we champion and do all we can to ensure that women and girls of color are in power, at the tables of power and are supported as movement leaders,” said Younger.

One more thing this new feminist philanthropy strategic plan will emphasize: relationships, of course! “In response to the fragmented state of the women’s movement and promising new practices that are evolving, our Ms. Foundation for Women team will pilot cross-movement, cross-sector, and cross-generational strategies that can amass a much larger base of supporters and hold diverse social movements accountable for advancing a gender and racial equity agenda,” explains the Ms. Foundation’s strategic plan,  Building Power: Advancing Democracy.

As is often the case in feminist philanthropy, this new strategic plan is  all about the relationships and building power among the grassroots. For more information, please visit the Ms. Foundation’s website here. 


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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