“These extraordinarily demanding times call for increased responsiveness, investment, and collaboration from philanthropy,” said Ana Oliveira, The New York Women’s Foundation’s President and CEO, upon announcing a record $11 million in grants for 2018 to 175 community organizations. “Our 2018 grantmaking expresses the Foundation’s increased response to the needs of historically underinvested communities most impacted by poverty and violence.”
The New York Women’s Foundation (The Foundation) has been at the forefront of gender equality philanthropy for several decades. From 2017 to 2018, grantmaking from the foundation increased by $3 million, breaking its previous record of $8 million, a 27% increase in just one year. If the New York Women’s Foundation continues giving at this rate, in another five years, its giving could reach over $25 million per year.
Big Focus on Partnerships
The Foundation’s new record grantmaking total builds on five strong years of growth with a particular focus on partnerships, said Oliveira in an email interview with Philanthropy Women. One major partnership highlight was the when the Foundation joined with 27 public U.S. women’s foundations, along with the Women’s Funding Network, to create Prosperity Together, the five-year, $100 million funding initiative to create opportunities and break down barriers to women’s economic security across the United States. “In its first two years, Prosperity Together invested a collective $58 million of its $100 million commitment,” said Oliveira. “We will be reporting on 2018 soon and will be sure to share the results with you.”
Another important collaboration leading toward this year’s record giving was the Foundation’s partnership with the New York City Council’s Young Women’s Initiative. This partnership focused specifically on increasing visibility and opportunity for girls, young women and gender-fluid youth of color in New York City.
The Foundation’s partnership with MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke has been another significant propeller of its growth. “The MeToo Fund is a vehicle to ensure that the momentum of the Movement is sustained beyond news cycles, by activists of color leading organizations working to prevent sexual violence and promote the leadership and healing of survivors,” said Oliveira. With this work, the Foundation has extended its grantmaking beyond New York City with the help of other public women’s foundations across the country.
I wanted to know what inspires Oliveira to keep driving the Foundation to further heights of giving — and at such a fierce pace. “I am most inspired by the leaders we have the honor of supporting,” said Oliveira. “What we bring to the table is a willingness to listen, to invest right from the beginning—at the idea stage—and to stick with [grantees], continuing to invest over 5 years as they build out the solution.”
Oliveira cited examples of organizations thriving through their partnerships with the Foundation, including ROC United, Hot Bread Kitchen and Domestic Workers Alliance. “We know it is about more than funding, that is why we invest in the leaders themselves with training, coaching, and opportunities for visibility.”
Another factor that contributes to the Foundation’s record growth in giving, said Oliveira, is the the volunteer and donor communities that supports the Foundation. “Just as we look to community for solutions, we look to them for guidance in our grantmaking,” she said.
Oliveira also recognized the heavily participatory process that the Foundation uses to make grants. “Our brand of participatory grantmaking treats community members as equals. They already know the best ways to approach their local challenges, so we ask them to decide with us where resources should go, rather than determining what their problems are or how to fix them.”
A complete list of The New York Women’s Foundation 2018 grantee partners can be viewed here.