Rachel’s Network Announces First Catalyst Award Winners

The 2019 Catalyst Award winners. From left to right: Annel Hernandez, Maria Herrera, Tara Houska, Brionté McCorkle, Juliana Pino, and Heather Toney. (Photo Credit: Rachel’s Network)

On October 31, Rachel’s Network announced the inaugural winners of the first-ever Catalyst Award. Designed to provide women leaders of color support and recognition, the Catalyst Award highlights winners’ commitment to a healthy planet.

Each award winner will receive $10,000, extensive networking opportunities, and national recognition for their outstanding work. In addition, the award winners will be recognized at an invitation-only ceremony held in March 2020 in Washington, DC.

Chosen from a massive application pool, the winners reflect some of the top talent and dedication in the fields of conservation, environmental law, public policy, and water access.

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Magic Awaits: Swatee Deepak on Girl-Led Change

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Swatee Deepak, director of With and For Girls (WFG), a collective that gives financial support to girl-led and -centered groups around the world and engages young women in participatory grantmaking panels.

Swatee Deepak (courtesy of Swatee Deepak)

What is your current greatest professional challenge?

How to best support mergers in the philanthropic sector adhering to the same values and care we place across our work.   

With and For Girls was initially incubated within a private foundation, Stars Foundation. In 2018, as a collective, we worked together with adolescent girls to identify a new home and chose Purposeful. What followed was a merger of WFG from Stars to Purposeful. Progressive philanthropy is filled with discussions about shifting power. Here we are, a funder collaborative, working globally across the global north and south and made up of established funders now being held by a grassroots-based organization with headquarters in Sierra Leone. 

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AWID Studies the Feminist Funding Ecosystem

This week’s essential reading for feminist givers comes from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) with their report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem. The report helps to more clearly define the different types of funding that impact feminist movement-building, and makes recommendations for how to increase the most effective forms of funding.

AWID’s report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem, defines four main types of funding that impact feminist social change. (Image credit: AWID)

The report cites evidence that, “A remarkable – and disturbing – 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach women’s rights and feminist organizations directly.” Instead, these funds end up being used by the development agencies that receive them, or get redistributed to mainstream organizations that are not associated with feminist movement builders.

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Supporting Gender Equality for the Holidays

Looking for ways to buy gifts and support gender equality at the same time? The Body Shop US is donating one dollar to Plan International USA for every holiday pre-packaged gift box and bag sold between November 1 and the end of the year. The money raised, up to a total of $50,000, will contribute to Plan USA’s work to empower girls globally. The program will enable 1,200 youth, through national leadership and advocacy programs, to transform gender norms by creating new narratives about girls focused on power, intelligence and capability.

Plan USA’s Youth Leadership Academy
Credit: Plan International USA

The impetus for the Body Shop’s “Empower Our Girls” donation are the results of a Plan International USA study on gender equality. Some stats from the survey:

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“The Need Is So Great” – Feminist Philanthropy with Loreen Arbus

Loreen Arbus, producer, writer, author, and disability rights activist. (Photo courtesy of Loreen Arbus.)

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Loreen Arbus, producer, writer, author, and disability rights activist. She is the Founder of the Loreen Arbus Foundation, President of the Goldenson-Arbus Foundation, and sponsor of the WMC Loreen Arbus Journalism Program, among other projects. On October 21st, Loreen received the Eagle Award at the Disability Rights Advocates’ 2019 Gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Her work as an advocate for people with disabilities, including her commitment to inclusion and integration of differently-abled people and minorities, spans a lifetime of exemplary philanthropic efforts.

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Women’s Giving Circles In the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer just published an excellent in-depth piece on giving circles, and it prompted me to do a scan of the women’s giving circle activity out there.

As the Inquirer article explains, more giving in the circle form is happening now than ever, and much of it is being driven by women.

My favorite line from the Philly Inquirer piece is from Paula Liang:

“The collective giving movement has grown slowly but steadily over 25 years,” says Paula Liang, chair of Catalist, a national network of 75 women’s giving circles that represent 20,000 donors, “and now has reached what lots of us believe is a tipping point.”

Orchid Giving Circle, a Texas Women’s Foundation group, recently granted $219,500 to 14 community organizations in Texas. (Photo Credit: Orchid Giving Circle)

As the article reminds us, giving circles have quadrupled over the last decade, and the majority of the activity in the movement is women-led. Much of it is also focused on giving to women and girls, such as Project W, the giving circle featured in the Philly Inquirer article.

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Leap of Faith: Oxfam Studies Funders for Women and Girls

Oxfam did the world another service recently by producing a report called A Leap of Faith: Conversations with Funders of Women’s Organizations. The report, which was written by I.G. Advisors, tells the story of how the funding landscape for women and girls feels close up — the ways that these funders struggle with trusting their grantees while also finding useful metrics to measure their work.

Oxfam has produced a new report studying how funders for women and girls approach their work. (PHOTO CREDIT: Nana Kofi Acquah / Oxfam)

Dr. Fenella Porter of Oxfam introduces the report by examining the profound power imbalances that exist between grantees and grantmakers across the board. She suggests that one form of power that grantees have is the power inherent in being the information collectors — the bringers of knowledge. “Knowledge is certainly power,” Porter continues, “but we must also recognize the many other power imbalances” that exist in philanthropy.

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Helping Women Entrepreneurs Build Assets in Fresno, California

Jenny Flores, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of the West

Editor’s Note: This Q&A is with Jenny Flores, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Bank of the West. Grameen America recently announced a new collaboration with Bank of the West, which is donating $2 million to assist with the launch of a new Grameen branch in Fresno, California.

What is the relationship between Bank of the West and Grameen? Does Bank of the West provide the funds and Grameen evaluate the loans and administer the program?

Building on a relationship started in 2017, Bank of the West made an initial $1.5M investment to provide lending capital to Grameen’s Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York branches, helping to establish Bank of the West as one of Grameen’s key business partners in the U.S.

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How Women Will Shape The Great Wealth Transfer

Editor’s Note: The following essay is authored by Jenny Xia and Patrick Schmitt, Co-Founders of Free Will, an award-winning social venture with a mission of supporting world leaders in law, design, and philanthropy. To date, more than $850 million has been committed to nonprofit organizations through Free Will.

In the next two decades, an estimated $30 trillion will be inherited in the US as the large and prosperous Baby Boomer generation passes its wealth on to the next generation. This is the largest wealth transfer in human history, and may be the single greatest opportunity for philanthropy ever.

This demographic wave is beginning to thrust “planned giving”  and “bequests” (giving through wills, trusts, and a few other avenues) from the outskirts of mainstream philanthropy into the spotlight. 

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VIVA Girls: How MADRE Funds Girls on the Margins

Around the world, girls and teens are exposed to violence, environmental devastation, societal exclusion and harm, and other difficulties. MADRE is an international women’s rights organization that typically partners with women-led groups dealing with war and disaster. It is now stepping up to specifically support girls’ growth as they face diverse challenges through a new grantmaking program: VIVA Girls.

Girls from Columbia working with MADRE. (photo credit: MADRE)

With a focus on listening to and uplifting girls’ voices and solutions, MADRE wants to reach “girls from marginalized communities who endure many forms of discrimination; what some people would call ‘girls on the last mile,’” Executive Director Yifat Susskind says. Susskind offered us insights into how VIVA Girls works. MADRE plans to devote about $3 million to this initiative during the next three years.

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