Gloria Feldt: Take Risks and Build Big for Social Change

Talking to Gloria Feldt is like talking to someone who has been through just about everything as a feminist leader, and yet somehow still finds the strength to tackle ongoing social and political challenges. The word unstoppable comes to mind.

gloria feldt
Gloria Feldt, Founder of Women Take the Lead and former Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1996 to 2005.

In 1996, People Magazine captured her phenomenal early career in a story called  The Voice of Experience. Indeed. And Feldt has just the kind of experience we like to talk about here at Philanthropy Women: experience that mobilizes funding for big visions.

Feldt married her high school sweetheart at age 15 and had 3 children by the time she was 20. She began her professional career as a Head Start teacher for five years, and went back to school as a young mother. In the process of writing a paper for a science class, Feldt chose to profile the local Planned Parenthood affiliate in West Texas, interviewing the local President, nurse practitioners, and board members.

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Thinking About Writing for Philanthropy Women? Read This First

writers
The humble writer/editor in her humble home/office.

We are always looking for contributing writers at Philanthropy Women, where we cover the growing world of women’s giving for all areas of philanthropy, from feminist foundations to women’s funds to giving circles, and just about anything in between. We also cover research on women in philanthropy such as changing patterns of giving, as well as the funding for research on the status of gender equality worldwide.

Writers for Philanthropy Women should know who they are primarily writing for: women in philanthropy at all levels, meaning women who give through dollars, women who give through strategy, and women who give through labor, primarily in the nonprofit world. Generally, we hire freelance writers who have extensive experience both as writers and in some area of philanthropy, such as nonprofit fundraising, social policy, or funding strategy.

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The Clinton Foundation is Alive and Well and Looking to Expand Some Programs

Donna Shalala, Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton Foundation staff at a Day of Action that brought diapers and books to the South Bronx, in partnership with Penguin Book and Huggies. This is the 33rd Day of Action for the Clinton Foundation since Chelsea Clinton started the program in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Last Friday, I participated in  a media roundtable hosted by The Clinton Foundation to discuss the future direction of their work.

Related: “Empowering Girls and Women Across All Our Programs”: Where is The Clinton Foundation Going in 2017?

At the roundtable, President Shalala said that the level of future involvement for Mrs. Clinton at the foundation is unclear, but that former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have both re-upped their commitment and are ready to take the foundation in some new directions.

“Stage one is the letter from President Clinton,” said Shalala, and that they are now planning to follow up with a fundraising effort. What exactly that fundraising effort will look like is not yet entirely clear, but Shalala said it would likely involve both direct mailing to increase the base of support and reaching out for new partnerships with other foundations and nonprofits.

Regarding the process of spinning off the Clinton Global Initiative, a process that began in the fall of 2016, Shalala said, “We lost about 100 people in the downsizing. Almost all of it is related to CGI. We announced 80 early in the fall, and then another dozen or so, maybe more than that, recently. We don’t have any more plans for downsizing of that scale.”

Megan O’Neil asked about the future for President Shalala at the Clinton Foundation, noting that Shalala is now 75 years old and also works part-time as a college professor in Miami.

Shalala responded that she expects to stay on staff for the foreseeable future. “I am teaching in Miami, but I also taught all of last year, so that’s not unusual. I haven’t  had a chance to sit down and talk to the Presdient, Chelsea and the board, but it’s pretty exciting now,” she added.

She regarded the last year at the foundation as a “really painful year,” but said that, like Michelle Obama, they take the approach of “When they go low, we go high.” She said the foundation remained focused on their work and did some of the most effective collaborating and partnering to date, such as establishing the $70 million dollar commitment from nonprofits and businesses to address gender equality.

Shalala also spoke confidently about the coming year. “I have been talking with staff. It was difficult to eliminate CGI, one of our most exciting programs, but I believe this year, the best is yet to come, because we do see a clear path ahead, even though there are going to be challenges in international, global work for everyone that isn’t related to the Clinton Foundation but more related to the world economy and the refugee crisis going on all over the place.”

Shalala described the past 18 months at The Clinton Foundation as “intense” and added, “I’m used to being pounded on, but everybody else is not, so I think the challenge of the last 18 months was to keep the organization together and focused. That’s not easy when you don’t have control over the political environment or the environment in which you’re working. And I don’t think we really missed a beat.”

Shalala talked about how finding partners in other foundations and nonprofits is a big part of the Clinton Foundation’s strategy going forward. “We’re always looking for expertise. We see ourselves as an incubator. One of the amazing things over the past year has been the support from other foundations who urged us to continue to do our good work. But I think diversifying your funding base is always a good thing.”

Where else is the Clinton Foundation looking make contributions? Shalala said the foundation will be “looking at our programs to see where they could be refocused.”

Too Small to Fail can have a dramatic impact and it could use more resources. We want to be able to do that.” Shalala also said the foundation wants to remain nimble, so that if there is a medical crisis like the Ebola crisis, “if the President wants to bring together partnerships,” they are able to do that.

“We can play a convening role and the president is anxious to do that on specific subjects,” said Shalala. She referenced the opioid epidemic in the country and said that that specific subjects “needs some attention,” due to the lack of systematic response in this country.

Shalala quickly defended the foundation’s intent to remain involved in global affairs, saying that she expects the foundation to continue in Africa and the Caribbean Islands, as well as addressing global issues like climate and energy. “Just because we’re spinning one of our mature international programs off, doesn’t mean we won’t continue to be interested, particularly in Africa and Latin America.”

Shalala said the foundation is definitely thinking of starting another international program, but they are looking carefully to make sure they are filling a niche that no else is filling. “We have a combination of fundraising and we work with other foundations, so it’s not just individual. We also put together an endowment that will help us in the long run and we haven’t touched that endowment yet. We made a deliberate decision over the last two years not to touch the endowment.”

“I don’t anticipate fundraising to slack off,” said Shalala. “Private donations will continue to play a very significant role to help people around the world.”

With regard to the work of No Ceilings, Clinton Foundation staff noted that the program will continue. The Full Participation Report, created in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will also continue to serve as a resource on the global progress of women and girls. In addition, the Clinton Foundation will provide technical assistance to support the Girls, Women, and Global Goals CGI commitments made at last year’s CGI meeting, as well as the CHARGE commitment announced in 2014.Read More

Empowering Girls and Women: Clinton Fdn’s Plan in 2017

Photo of the Clinton Foundation’s playground work, enhancing learning in playgrounds across the country.

Clinton Foundation President Donna Shalala headlined the phone conference roundtable with this quote from Mark Twain: “Rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated.”

In fact, said Shalala, “We’re alive and well and thriving.”

Shalala said former President Bill Clinton’s letter, which charts the Foundation’s path forward, depicts a “re-energized foundation, better positioned for the brave new world we’re going into.”

The plan going forward, in broad terms, said Shalala is to “build on what we know works,” while also “spinning off some of the programs that have grown to maturity.”

After reading over the President’s letter, I asked Shalala about the foundation’s future priority of empowering girls and women “across all of our programs.” I asked Shalala what that was going to look like for The Clinton Foundation going forward.

“We’ve been working it already,” she said, and described how programs across the foundation, from the Haiti work to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation all have special sessions and strategies for women and girls.  “Too Small to Fail is particularly focused on women because they are the major caregivers for children,” said Shalala.

With regard to the foundation’s work on empowerment for women and girls going forward, Shalala stated, “We want to go places where others don’t go in recognizing and empowering women’s lives.”

Shalala described some of the changes coming down the pike for The Clinton Foundation’s programs that are focused on women and girls. “The No Ceilings program is going to partner with Brookings and Vital Voices,” said Shalala. The letter from President Clinton provides background on what these partnerships are doing already:

“No Ceilings continued its work to advance the full participation of girls and women. This year, with Vital Voices Global Partnership and WEConnect International, No Ceilings launched a new coalition of 30 partners from the public and private sectors that seeks to increase women’s economic participation, address violence against girls and women, and promote women’s leadership. The group announced 24 new Commitments to Action at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The projects will invest more than $70 million to help nearly 900,000 people across six continents, promoting gender equality which is key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Next up, Megan O’Neil of the Chronicle of Philanthropy asked Shalala what the plans were for the three Clinton family members involved with the Foundation.  Shalala described how both President Clinton and Chelsea remain involved and helped to prepare the transition plan with the foundation’s board. But with regard to the Clinton family member last seen running for President?

“I don’t have an answer on Mrs. Clinton,” said Shalala. “She has not made any kind of announcement other than her announcement about the book she is going to work on.”

Megan O’Neil then asked Shalala about how fundraising went for The Clinton Foundation in 2016.

“As you would expect, we didn’t have the participation of the Clintons for fundraising,” due to the election, said Shalala, but she stated that the foundation did meet its goals in terms of bringing in $20 million. “We exceeded that,” she said, and mentioned that there were several donations received on December 31 from donors previously unknown to the foundation.

Regarding fundraising for the coming year, Shalala said, “I think we’ll be fine in 2017. Both Chelsea and the President are back, and the President has been in at least twice. They are certainly re-engaged with the Foundation. And we’re thinking of different strategies for fundraising. The President has a lot of friends out there, and people want to support the foundation.”

One Monday: More from the Clinton Foundation’s Media Roundtable, including plans for new initiatives, the scoop on how they didn’t touch their endowment for the past two years, and whether President Shalala sees herself continuing on with the Foundation.

Here is a recap of the Clinton Foundation’s goals spelled out in President Clinton’s letter:

  • Continue our efforts to combat childhood obesity and improve health across the country. This includes continued support for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, our partnership with the American Heart Association, and increased efforts by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative that includes launching new community health work in San Diego and expanding our work to fight the opioid epidemic.
  • Expand our work to improve early learning through Too Small to Fail, launching a new effort to engage dads and grandparents in early learning.
    Increase our focus on leadership development and public service through programs like the Presidential Leadership Scholars and CGI University (CGI U).
  • Continue our successful economic development work in Rwanda and Malawi and our efforts to improve the lives of smallholder farmers through the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI). As part of a routine review of the efficiency of our programs, we found that we could maximize our impact in Tanzania by refocusing our programmatic efforts on those farmers closest to our commercial farm who will continue to receive support including fertilizer, pesticides, and training.
  • Do more to support communities on the front lines of climate change through the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).
  • Keep empowering girls and women a priority across all of our programs. 
  • And maintain The Clinton Presidential Center and Library’s ability to provide educational and cultural opportunities to Arkansas and beyond, and manifest our belief in the value of service – whether by private citizens or public figures.

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I’m With Her: Rebuilding Feminism for Local and Global Sisterhood

One of the tricky things about the progression of feminism in America is how it has gone from being a fringe movement to being a taken-for-granted social norm. Because of this, it is easy to forget that gender equality still needs safeguarding.

feminism
Boarding the Train to the Boston March. Pictured are Emily Nielsen Jones with her sister and two sister-friends.

Women once took to the streets to seek the right to vote and own property, to not be deemed as subordinates, to be treated as full human beings in their own right.

feminism
My 80’s wall decor.

Now women have taken to the streets again. It turns out we still need feminism, and this new wave of the movement can hardly be considered fringe. Far outstripping predictions, roughly 1.2 million marchers gathered in Washington, DC and 3 million more in cities and towns across the US. Over 5 million marched together around the world.

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Washington Area Women’s Foundation Pushes for 100 Days of Action for Women and Girls

Join the Washington Area Women’s Foundation campaign to activate #our100days

Back in April of 2016, I wrote an article for Inside Philanthropy profiling Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF). It was exciting to learn about how Lockwood-Shabat was leading an ambitious campaign to raise funds for the amplification of WAWF’s work.

Now, WAWF is leading a campaign to keep gender equality activism on track. The new campaign, #our100days, is an effort for gender equality advocates to claim the first 100 days of the Trump presidency as a time to complete a single task every day that will help improve the lives of women and girls in America.

Want to know more about Lockwood-Shabat and how women’s funds are building community and solidarity for women and other marginalized groups? Lockwood-Shabat will be presenting at DREAM, DARE, DO, a symposium on March 14 and 15th of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. I will be there to learn from Lockwood-Shabat and other experts in the field of women’s philanthropy. I hope you will be there, too.

From WAWF:

WE MARCHED. WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

We are already seeing some of the new administration’s priorities, and they will continue to become more clear as their first 100 days unfold. That’s why we’re proud to invite you to #our100days campaign — because these 100 days will be our 100 days too. Each day, we’ll give you a single task. As more join our movement, our message will be amplified across social media and throughout our communities.

There is much at stake for women and girls — health care, education, jobs, and our most basic rights. In his inaugural address, President Trump said, “This moment is your moment, it belongs to you,” and he is right. This is our moment.

To get started, please forward this email to those in your life who believe in the power and potential of women and girls. Sign up on our site to join me and thousands of other women and men to create lasting change in #our100days. To see the latest Twitter feed of #our100days, click here. 

And now, my profile of Lockwood-Shabat:

Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, The Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Every community across the U.S. has unique features, but the challenges facing women tend to be depressingly similar. For example, in the Washington D.C. region, as in so many other places, many women are just barely getting by economically. Women make up about two-thirds of all low-wage workers in the D.C. area, earning $10.10 an hour or less.

“There is a tremendous gap between what many women in our region are earning, and what they really need to survive and take care of their families,” says Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, which serves as a hub for on-the-ground services and advocacy for women and girls in the greater D.C. metropolitan region.

This is a mandate that many women’s foundations take on—bridging the gap for low-income women so that they can not only get a job, but also get ahead, with child care services, housing, and asset building—all ways to build more financial stability into their lives, and the lives of their families.

As part of this work, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation is one of the 28 women’s foundations across the country collaborating in Prosperity Together, which pledged collectively to invest $100 million over the next five years to improve the economic security of women and girls of color. The funding investment was made in partnership with the White House Council on Women and Girls in November 2015.

Now, under the leadership of Lockwood-Shabat, the foundation has mapped out a five-year strategic plan called Together We Thrive, that will amp up the resources available to help women and girls, and broaden the range of practices and financial tools—including donor-advised funds—to make the foundation a more powerful giver, convener, and influencer in the D.C. area.

The Washington Area Women’s Foundation has been around since 1998, starting out with $35,000 in funds raised in the first year, with half of that redistributed as grants to the community. The foundation does not have an endowment and instead raises and redistributes its funding yearly.

In 2014, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation granted $1,015,000 in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. But this milestone is small compared to Lockwood-Shabat’s hopes for the foundation—which is to quintuple its grantmaking to $5 million a year over the next five years, essentially adding another million dollars in funding every year by persuading more donors to put their money toward funding for women and girls.

Where does Lockwood-Shabat see this funding coming from? “We’ve been taking a long look at the role of women in philanthropy, and how we connect women in our region who, in many ways, have made it—they are at the pinnacle of their careers, and they are looking for ways to give back.”

Estimates of the net worth of women in the D.C. metro region are at $253 billion, said Lockwood-Shabat. “That number is projected to grow to $500 billion in the next 10 years, so harnessing the power of those resources, and catalyzing those resources toward women and families who need a little bit of investment to lift themselves out of poverty, is our goal.”

One difference in empowering women financially is that the money is more fully reinvested in the community. “Studies show that in female-headed households, women will reinvest as much as 90 percent of their new income back into their families, so for every dollar that we’re able to raise the income of low-income women, a great deal of that is going back into their families and to their children. This is really about improving the entire community.”

The foundation has a long list of grantee organizations, many of which are providing much-needed child care, educational, and workforce development services on the ground in the community. The Women’s Foundation currently supports places such as SOME’s Center for Employment Training, which places women into good jobs, and the YWCA of the National Capital Area and College Success Foundation of D.C., partner organizations that provide academic, social-emotional, and financial support for students and their families—a two-generation approach that serves middle school-aged girls and their mothers or female caregivers.

The foundation also takes a systemic approach to social issues that impact women and girls, with funding for advocacy through organizations like Voices for Virginia Children, which fosters public policies to prepare all children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, for kindergarten, and a partnership between D.C. Appleseed and D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute to advocate for high-quality child care for low-income families in D.C..

The foundation is also looking to expand its partnerships with government, businesses, and philanthropy to encourage and influence funding programs with a gender focus.

“We have a number of corporate partners that participate in our Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative,” Lockwood-Shabat said. “These are private, family, and corporate foundations pooling their dollars, all to invest in early care and education across the region.” She added that the Early Care and Education Collaborative is just one example of a partnership designed to educate and influence others about the unique barriers faced by women in the region.

Partnerships with corporations and others are not just about funding, said Lockwood-Shabat. “Sometimes it’s about influencing how a corporation thinks about their own workplace policies and how they can better support women in their workplace. Or it’s about influencing how a government agency administers a program. That kind of education and influence is critically important—just as important as the dollars going out into the community.”

Lockwood-Shabat also wants to target the foundation’s dollars more specifically on piloting new methods of philanthropy and community engagement. She sees great potential for this coming from the unprecedented power of female philanthropy. “Women want to be very connected to the work, they want to see it, to touch it, to feel it. It’s not just about the impact today or a year from now, but a deeper focus on significant, long-term impact. Many of our donors have a deep understanding of the need for advocacy at the same time that we focus on direct service.”

Lockwood-Shabat is at the helm of a quickly evolving women’s foundation, one that is hoping to take off and fly, tapping into piles of new wealth in the hands of D.C.-area women. For Lockwood-Shabat, much of this is about cultivating the next generation of women leaders who can bring more gender equity and economic stability to our nation’s capital region.

“The more we can do to invest in young women, to strengthen their voices and their leadership skills early on, the better,” she said. “At a very grassroots level in their neighborhood or school, we can encourage young women to use their voices for greater things.”Read More

Which Funders are Helping Young Women and Girls of Color Build Community Activism?

Girls for Gender Equity received a $250,000 grant from the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color

With grassroots activism on the rise across the country, we are seeing more and more funders step up to address populations who face multiple forms of marginalization, especially the combination of both gender and race.

Now, the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color (the Fund), a collaboration of 16 foundations, has announced grants totaling $2.1 million, awarded to 28 non-profit organizations across the five boroughs.

These organizations are the ground-level hubs where young women and girls of color go in communities to engage in leadership development, health and employment advocacy, educational support, and help with community safety issues including violence against women.

The Sadie Nash Leadership Project received $100,000 in funding from the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color.

“There’s a renewed sense of urgency, and a renewed sense of focusing on the biggest disparities for young women and girls. We find them localized around dimensions of racial and ethnic difference,” said Ana Oliveira, CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, in a recent chat with Philanthropy Women about this new set of grants.

Oliveira described how The New York Women’s Foundation developed this multi-funder partnership that is granting this new money.  “We began with our main partner, The NoVo Foundation, and said, ‘let’s come together and ignite a process with others.'”

The two foundations invited a host of their colleagues to join them in focusing on girls and young women of color, and many foundations took them up on the offer. The Ford Foundation came on board, as did other well-known and established progressive foundations, including the Surdna Foundation, the Schott Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, and the Foundation for a Just Society.

Communities foundations also stepped up and joined, including the New York Community Trust and the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Family foundations also came to the table including the Andrus Family Fund and the Cricket Island Foundation. Feminist Foundation allies the Ms. Foundation and Third Wave Fund also came on board.

“We’re just beginning,” said Oliveira, of the process of rounding up foundations to focus on young women and girls of color. “We are going to continue to invite colleagues in the foundation world to join our coalition. It’s more important now than ever.”

The Fund was initially launched by The New York Women’s Foundation and NoVo Foundation in 2014 as a way to increase philanthropic resources available to organizations that advance the leadership of New York’s girls and young women of color. The Fund also seeks to address longstanding barriers to opportunity for young women and girls of color at the structural level.

“We all want to get to the tipping point of supporting enough organizations that are helping women, that we can resolve economic and social injustice for women,” said Oliveira. “We want to make sure these organizations can do their work and grow. We want to make sure they are ready first responders in community fights for justice and equity.”

“If we want to create a world in which girls can live free from violence and discrimination, we must truly listen to them and follow their lead,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, in a press release announcing the grants. “Girls and young women of color are the best agents in transforming their communities and it’s time we invest in their leadership. That’s exactly what these grants will do.”

The 2016 NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women grantees are:

Ancient Song Doula Services
$50,000
Arab American Association of New York
$60,000
Arab American Family Support Center
$60,000
Atlas: DIY
$75,000
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
$75,000
Black Women’s Blueprint
$75,000
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
$70,000
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education
$100,000
Community Connections for Youth, Inc.
$75,000
CONNECT, Inc.
$85,000
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
$60,000
FIERCE
$60,000
Girls for Gender Equity
$250,000
Hetrick-Martin Institute
$70,000
Make the Road New York
$50,000
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
$60,000
New York City Anti-Violence Project
$75,000
Resilience Advocacy Project
$50,000
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
$100,000
South Asian Youth Action
$60,000
S.O.U.L. Sisters Leadership Collective
$80,000
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
$60,000
The Alex House Project, Inc
$100,000
The Audre Lorde Project, Inc.
$75,000
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
$75,000
Turning Point for Women and Families
$50,000
Welfare Rights Initiative
$60,000
YWCA/The Young Women’s Christian Association Of The City Of New York $50,000

 

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Why These Two Funders are Stepping Up to Close the Film Industry Gender Gap

Film Fatales, a collaborative of women film makers and television directors, has received two new grants.

Want to see how philanthropy can amplify movements for women’s equality? Look no further than this new funding collaboration between the Harnisch Foundation and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, which will create long-term growth for women film makers and television directors.

“The Harnisch Foundation’s strategy for social change includes supporting creative communities, and investing in the power of storytelling,” said Ruth Ann Harnisch, Founder and President of the Harnisch Foundation. “Film Fatales hits both of those targets, giving women more opportunities, visibility, and connections. We share the goal of gender parity in making media.”

Film Fatales, once a relatively small network of women filmmakers sharing resources, has evolved into something much bigger. What was once a group of women in New York gathering for mentoring and support has blossomed into an organization of “over 500 women feature film and television directors in New York and Los Angeles, and scores more in sister cities across Europe, North America, and Australia.”

The evolution of Film Fatales has taken the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in a new direction this year, where twenty members of the network are premiering films, episodics, and virtual reality projects. These new works include the popular Amazon series I Love Dickco-directed by Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, and Kimberly Peirce, and starring Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn.

Film Fatales also hosted Sundance’s opening weekend Women’s Brunch, a female filmmaker dinner with Kickstarter, and held their annual Film Fatales party at the event, with sponsorship from Blue Fever, Luna Bar, Tangerine Entertainment, and the Utah Film Commission.

Now, with new funding from the Harnisch Foundation and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Film Fatales is on the runway for a major takeoff in production of films by women. These two new grants will help the organization develop long-term sustainability, so that the large gender gap in film and television can begin to be closed. As of 2015, only 16 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on top-grossing films were women.

The first of these two new grants, from the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, is a recurring grant for $10,000 and will fund media efforts which will raise the visibility of Film Fatales productions as well as other feature films by women around the world. This is the first time the Adrienne Shelley Foundation has given a grant to an organization instead of directly to filmmakers.

The Harnisch Foundation is providing a second grant of $25,000 to Film Fatales for General Operating Support. With over $10 million in grants since 1998, the Harnisch Foundation is also a funder of Women Make Movies, Sundance Institute, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Chicken & Egg Pictures.

Films directed by Film Fatales at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival:

Band Aid directed by Zoe Lister Jones

Beach Rats directed by Eliza Hittman

Before I Fall directed by Ry Russo Young

Bitch directed by Marianna Palka

Buena Vista Social Club documentary directed by Lucy Walker

Deirdra & Laney directed by Sydney Freeland

Hold On directed by Christine Turner

I Love Dick co-directed by Jill Soloway, Andrea Arnold, Kimberly Peirce

If Not Love directed by Rose Troche

Landline directed by Gillian Robespierre

Lemon directed by Janicza Bravo

Motherland directed by Ramona Diaz

Step directed by Amanda Lipitz

Strangers co-directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall and Mia Lidofsky

This is Everything directed by Barbara Kopple

Through You co-directed by Lily Baldwin

Tokyo Idols directed by Kyoko Miyake

XX co-directed by Annie Clark, Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin

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Why Civil Society Tops the Agenda for Women’s Philanthropy at DREAM, DARE, DO

Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the YWCA and opening speaker for Dream, Dare, Do on March 14, 2017 in Chicago.

Grassroots activism is on the rise, from Standing Rock to the Women’s March on Washington to local organizing across the country. In the midst of all this, what better thing to do than attend a conference that is all about how to enhance civil society — the engagement of citizens in collective activity for the common good.

With this focus on growing civil society, the 2017 Symposium of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute offers panelists, speakers, and interaction aimed at understanding how women envision a better society, and then dare to take action to create that better place.

The Symposium, slated for March 14 and 15 in Chicago, will start with the leaders of two of the oldest and most venerable community-based organizations in the country — the YWCA, and the Junior League. “These organizations have lived through so much, and they adapted to the times to remain vibrant and vital,” said Andrea Pactor, Associate Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, in a recent chat with Philanthropy Women about the upcoming conference.

As many in the U.S. plan to press on for gender equality, valuing it as a cornerstone of civil society, The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is offering a wide array of expertise to feed the conversation about where women in philanthropy fits into this landscape.

The opening speaker for the conference will be Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the YWCA, and a key figure in community-based leadership nationwide. “The YWCA is a classic example of how women developed new resources for civil society early on,” said Pactor. 

During the mid-1800’s industrialization of the nation, the YWCA grew out of a need for women to have a safe place to stay overnight. By starting the conference with Dr. Richardson-Heron, WPI is framing the narrative for women in philanthropy around a core value of having a safe place for everyone in the community, even as people moved or migrated to find new work.  

“There is no question that public policy and legislation can affect more people overall,” noted Pactor, “but while we’re waiting for that to happen, organizations in local communities like the YWCA and the Junior League are getting things done.”

Pactor observed that both of these organizations have been at the forefront of social and political movements since before women got the right to vote, and they continue to lead with innovative strategies for community engagement, such as the Junior League’s partnership with Kaboom! which builds playgrounds where they are needed. “This is a great partnership, because public space is where people can come together and when we come together we find we’re not so different after all,” said Pactor.

The Junior League, in particular, has deep roots for women’s community-building leadership. Mary Harriman, a 19-year-old heiress to a railroad fortune, founded The Junior League in 1901 to help women organize and take collective action to improve their communities.

“We’re starting from an institutional point of view, and then we move right into an individual perspective,” said Pactor, referencing the next speaker on opening day, Becky Straw, Co-Founder and CEO of The Adventure Project. “In some ways, Becky Straw is the new Mary Harriman, harnessing technology and integrating it into her work from the get-go.”

Becky Straw, Founder and CEO, The Adventure Project

At 29 years of age, Becky Straw co-founded The Adventure Project in order to “marry good intentions with measurable impact.” Straw’s project allows donors to invest in entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya and Uganda, and through technology, provides a direct link connecting the recipient of the donation with the donor.

Pactor said Straw will discuss how this connection enhances women’s giving, helping donor and recipient align in their goals and invest more deeply in the cause.  “So this is a conference that is connecting the new and the old, and thinking how women have worked in this public space over time,” said Pactor.

Other sessions of the conference are dedicated to women’s social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Leaders of Prosperity Together will also be presenting, including Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, CEO of the Greater Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Pactor was quick to point out that these women leaders in philanthropy, in their own ways, are also social entrepreneurs.

“Can we think about Prosperity Together as an entrepreneurial effort?” Pactor said the women’s funds leaders at the conference would be talking about how the Prosperity Together — the collaborative effort of 29 women’s funds and foundations across the country to increase economic security for women — has been “one of the most impactful campaigns that the women’s funds have ever taken on.” Hearing the insights of these leaders can help entrepreneurs of all sorts consider new ways to leverage social impact while also providing a service and contributing to the economy.

“Can those changes at the local level be brought to scale? Can the United Way Women’s Leadership Council in Anderson, South Carolina which took on teen pregnancy and was very successful, can this kind of work be replicated in other communities?” Pactor said questions like these, and other instances of women-led locally-based grantmaking, will be discussed more deeply.  “In Jacksonville, how has the Women’s Giving Alliance focus on mental health affecting the community? Could we build a national movement through women’s collective grantmaking around mental health?”

The conference also aims to stimulate discussion of what can be done to encourage women to step fully into their philanthropy. Using small group work and other collaborative techniques, participants can deepen their awareness of how to use their skills more effectively.

The conference trends in the direction of action, said Pactor. “Another tool that women have at their disposal that some are reluctant to use is advocacy,” said Pactor. “That’s why we’re bringing Sonya Campion to talk about advocacy both from the big picture and on the grassroots level.”

Sonya Campion added advocacy to her portfolio after feeling frustrated with the progress their foundation was making on its strategic goals. She and her husband, Tom, started a 501(c)4 in 2013 to invest in advocacy around the same causes their foundation supports. “They created a 501(c)4 so they bring different approaches to the table,” said Pactor. “Sonya Campion is not afraid to use advocacy as a tool to reach public policy makers to effect the kinds of changes they want to see.”

Ultimately, said Pactor, the conference hopes to close with a message that that encourages women to use all the tools at their disposal – whether leveraging their assets in impact investing, creating collaborations, enriching their work through advocacy, supporting innovative social enterprises, or growing grassroots giving circles.  

“We have to think strategically about the kinds of partnerships we want as women in philanthropy,” said Pactor. “I mean, think of it: Prosperity Together was launched at The White House. That says a lot about the kinds of partnerships that women in philanthropy are growing across the country.”

I had to ask: Did Pactor think Prosperity Together would be invited to the Trump White House? “We’re going to hope that they will be. Trump campaigned on the message of jobs and bringing better jobs to America. That’s what Prosperity Together is all about, so why wouldn’t he invite Prosperity Together to The White House?”Read More

No Progress Without Progress for Gender Equality

The Women’s March is a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. People all over the world took to the streets to raise awareness about the many anti-woman actions and behaviors of the President Elect. (The event was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.)

According to the New York Times:

Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in Washington on Saturday in a kind of counterinauguration after President Trump took office on Friday. A range of speakers and performers cutting across generational lines rallied near the Capitol before marchers made their way toward the White House.

They were joined by crowds in cities across the country: In Chicago, the size of a rally so quickly outgrew early estimates that the march that was to follow was canceled for safety. In Manhattan, Fifth Avenue became a river of pink hats, while in downtown Los Angeles, even before the gathering crowd stretched itself out to march, it was more than a quarter mile deep on several streets.

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