The NoVo Foundation is one of the largest private foundations to advocate for gender equality and has specifically focused much of its funding on reducing violence against girls and women globally. In their most recent initiative, the Radical Hope Fund, the foundation donated $34 million in grants to 19 different organizations around the world.
The Radical Hope Fund began as a response to the 2016 election. Seeing the increase in attacks on women and girls as well as LGBTQ populations, immigrants, people of color, and refugees, the foundation felt compelled to take action in a new, bolder way. Thus, the Radical Hope Fund was born, initially pledging to donate $20 million to selected grantees, but eventually deciding to deepen that commitment to $34 million.
As Executive Director Pamela Shifman explains, “It’s an experiment — one that seeks to support new collaborations that are imaginative and focused on building the movements we need, not simply what we think is possible right now. Radical Hope aims for transformation rather than solely incremental change.”
Since inception in 2006, the NoVo Foundation has emphasized the way in which systemic change needs to evolve out of the communities affected by the problem. The NoVo Foundation reviewed over 1,000 applications to find the 19 best candidates for this new funding, particularly looking for organizations that are community-based and that bring transformational strategies to the table.
To help the public learn more about this new approach to grantmaking, NoVo also launched the Radical Hope Blog Series. This will allow partners of NoVo’s Radical Hope grantmaking to document their work, share what they have learned, and grow their audiences and support teams.
The 19 grantees NoVo selected all have strong agendas, and many have already accomplished significant work for women. One of these is the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), a grant-making foundation that works to support women and women’s organizations in Africa, moving closer to gender equality in the process. The mission of AWDF is guided by five main values: Respect: A basic respect for human rights of all African women; Diversity: An allegiance to non-discrimination and inclusiveness; Feminist Leadership: A dedication to upholding feminist principles and ethics; Professionalism, Accountability and Stewardship: A commitment to be transparent and prudent in administering funds; and Solidarity and Partnerships: A determination to link with other organizations to effect change.
AWDF’s initiative, the Flourish Project, for which they received $985,090, will strengthen feminist movements across Africa. Over the next three years, the Flourish Project plans to accomplish several goals. These goals include inspiring the next generation to be strong proponents of feminism. The initiative also plans to collaborate with AIR, an African professional network addressing trauma and mental health, to implement a pilot model that will allow stressed African feminist leaders to take leave to reflect and heal. The Flourish Project will also work on making connections between feminist activists and organizations working locally and nationally with the African Feminist Forum.
Another grantee is Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, a social justice organization working on gender equality and rights for women on local, regional, and international levels. This organization has worked for over 20 years to make allies in the movement for gender equality across the globe. Much of their work is focused on decreasing crimes against women and girls, providing support to survivors of violence, and helping women affected by HIV and AIDS.
Masimanyane’s project receiving support from the Radical Hope Fund is called International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls. Novo’s grant will allow this program to continue and grow as it works alongside other organizations to increase awareness and about the problem of violence against women and girls. INEVAWG identifies failing state accountability as a major contributor to violence against women and will work with government systems to help address this failure. The project will also continue advocacy to increase society’s understanding of violence against women and other crucial issues of women’s well-being.
These two organizations, as well as Novo’s other grantee partners for Radical Hope, have done impressive work for women globally. The grantee partners appear to have clear missions and are taking many creative paths leading toward accomplishing those missions. Many of the grantee organizations also have strong connections with other partners and a commitment to core feminist values like diversity and transparency.