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June 30, 2022

Here’s What Grantee Partners Are Saying During Pride Month

by the Ms. Foundation

The Ms. Foundation stands with all members of the LGBTQ+ community and refuses to allow the criminalization or erasure of their bodies and experiences. We are honored to support and be in community with with grantee partners fighting for LGBTQ+ rights and justice every day.

TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people–inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers–creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom.

Black & Pink National is a prison abolitionist organization dedicated to abolishing the criminal punishment system and liberating LGBTQIA2S+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS who are affected by that system through advocacy, support, and organizing.

The In Our Names Network is a national network of organizations, campaigns and individuals working to end police violence against Black women, girls, trans and gender nonconforming people.

California Latinas for Reproductive Justice is a statewide organization committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas to uphold our dignity, our bodies, sexuality, and families. We build Latinas’ power and cultivate leadership through policy advocacy, community education, and community-informed research to achieve reproductive justice.

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum is the only organization focused on building power with AAPI women and girls to influence critical decisions that affect our lives, our families and our communities. Using a reproductive justice framework, we elevate AAPI women and girls to impact policy and drive systemic change in the United States.

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice builds Latina/x power to fight for the fundamental human right to reproductive health, dignity, and justice. We center Latina/x voices, mobilize our communities, transform the cultural narrative, and drive policy change. We amplify the grassroots power and thought leadership of Latinas/xs across the country to fuel a larger reproductive justice movement.

The Afiya Center was established in response to the increasing disparities between HIV incidences worldwide and the extraordinary prevalence of HIV among Black womxn and girls in Texas. TAC is unique in that it is the only Reproductive Justice (RJ) organization in North Texas founded and directed by Black womxn.

SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization; our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.

June 13, 2022

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Center for Embodied Pedagogy & Action

by Melissa Rosario, PhD & Lau Pat Rodriguez Arroyo.

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated in conversation with the co-coordinators of the Center for Embodied Pedagogy & Action (CEPA), Melissa Rosario, PhD (founder) and Lau Pat Rodriguez Arroyo.

CEPA is fostering the decolonization of Puerto Rico through initiatives that support their individual and collective capacity to live in wholeness. CEPA is an Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantee partner.

What brought you to this work? 

Our own desires and need for healing brought us to the work of decolonizing.We each had experience in social movements and found that within our own spaces of struggle, we were reproducing the violence of the empire in small ways. We wanted to live in connection, in balance, and in harmony, and realized that the only way to truly decolonize at the baseline of our existence was in community.  

We have worked to transform our lives as survivors, as femmes, and as gender-nonconforming people because we needed to remember another way of being that was taken from us and our communities by colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy. As indigiqueer folx walking a path of reclamation in times of climate catastrophe in America’s oldest colony, we live at the intersection of erasure and resilience. We know that healing is the way to live in deeper connection.

How do you connect/collaborate in your community? Who are your key partners?

Our key partners are our neighbors, the wider queer community in the Puerto Rican archipelago and diaspora, our collective of eight people, and the indigenous community. We form part of the Alianza Indigena Boricua en Resistencia and are also members of the Tribu Yuke based in Jayuya. We connect almost entirely through word-of-mouth because deep relationships are vital to our work.

The physical space of the casa-taller (home-workshop) is where much of our work is grounded.  Here we tend to plants and cultivate an urban garden, and we facilitate healing circles and praxis groups. We also host visitors who join us in a living practice aimed at fostering a solidarity economy based on the principles of redistribution, relationship building, and mutual aid. With the people who visit us from the diaspora or who live in Borike and stay with us for an extended amount of time, we actively reconnect with the earth in an urban context. We believe deeply in skillshares and host both digital and in-person offerings. We also are creators of a curriculum that mixes art, culture, and healing. 

What are you learning or what are you teaching? 

They say you teach what you most need to learn. And for us, it’s about anchoring decolonization as a daily practice. As survivors of violence and as people living somewhere where transphobia and femicidios (the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female) are so commonplace, we feel it’s vital to get beyond the binaries imposed by colonialism. Finding ways to see conflict as generative is one way we are working to get out of the binary of good/bad, which causes us to abandon one another in moments of difficulty. For us, there is no separation for us between the destruction of the earth and the destruction of our bodies and relationships. 

We are learning to sustain ourselves through a solidarity economy and by reconnecting with the abundance of the earth. We are learning to have difficult conversations with ease as we cultivate transformative justice practice with key partners. We are practicing caring for one another as we undergo long-term cultural shifts and deepen our ability to communicate. We are learning to tend the land as we tend to our bodies and truths.

Tell us about a recent victory or something you’re proud of.

Growing from a duo to a team of eight! This growth is thanks to a training that the Ms. Foundation sponsored and one of our co-coordinators was able to attend. It has brought more joy and more ease to our process and allows us to grow bigger visions for the future. Relatedly, we recently began a training and healing process with 15 people from our wider queer, femme, and trans community. We have a long-term vision of creating a network of people who are able to respond to violence and conflict and harm in a transformative way. We imagine that having a group of people able to anchor the community accountability process will likewise help us eradicate violence and abuse from our systems, anchoring our dream of living in freedom, deeply connected to our sovereignty and togetherness.

Gabriela Serra (she/her/hers), Karla Claudio Betancourt (she/they), Lizbeth Roman (she/they), Melissa Rosario (she/they), Lau Pat RA (they/them) and Maribel Caro (she/her/hers).

What do you need from funders or how can people help?  

We recently learned that the owner of the space we have been tending to since Hurricane Maria is hoping to sell the building. We have the opportunity to secure a permanent home base for our work and add a much needed space to the larger movement infrastructure, where folks can practice healing in community. Funders, please contact us to discuss strategies for helping us meet our overall goal of raising $250k in the next five years. Anyone can help us secure the down payment of $50k by November 1 by donating now to our campaign at www.givebutter.com/cepa. This will help us ensure that this space stays in the hands of Puerto Ricans at a time when we’re seeing massive displacement and a rise in the cost of living. Debt adjustments and special incentives have brought wealthy Americans to the island, pushing out Puerto Ricans. Help us do it without the banks. Help us to show others there is a way to stay here with the support of the community. Long term, this will also help us to ensure lasting housing for at least five people in the QTBIPOC community. Help us ensure a future for this work.

What gives you hope? 

Lau: Each time we are connected with someone who resonates with this work, I am hopeful. It gives me hope that as we are doing the work, we are collectively empowering one another and regenerating our capacity to carry on this work long term. It gives me hope that we are coming together in these times and are committing ourselves to work through conflict in a generative way.

Meli: The earth gives me hope. I recently heard that the ozone is regenerating itself. Can you imagine the power? The sweet water of the river gives me hope. The ocean that keeps flowing in waves in spite of everything gives me hope. A cool morning breeze, the fire to keep going. Knowing abundance in the community gives me hope. Reclaiming gives me hope.

January 26, 2023

Around the would-be 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here’s what partners are saying

by the Ms. Foundation

This month would have marked Roe v. Wade’s 50th anniversary. Movement leaders and grassroots activists are working overtime to reimagine and build a future where Roe is the floor, not the ceiling, for reproductive healthcare. Here’s what some of our grantee partners are saying:

Collective Power for Reproductive Justice


Roe v. Wade in and of itself was really the floor to begin with and not the ceiling. And as that monumental decision has been eroded, leaving so many people without access, it’s an opportunity for us to reimagine the future.

Alison Dreith, director of strategic partnerships at the Midwest Access Coalition, for USA Today

Ohio Women’s Alliance


As a queer, Latina, single mom, I know that we must continue to fight boldly for abortion justice so that we can access abortion and other reproductive health services without shame, stigma, criminalization, or political interference like the racist Hyde Amendment. “

Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director of URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Ibis Reproductive Health


We mourn the loss of Roe but we understand that Roe was the floor and we are working towards a world where access to the full range of just, dignified, and exceptional reproductive health care is available to people who can become pregnant regardless of circumstance or zip code, and is provided by compassionate health care professionals who also advocate for reproductive health and justice in their communities.”

Desert Star Family Planning Institute

Provide


California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

Image Credit: Bob Korn / shutterstock

January 9, 2023

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Lavender Phoenix

by Yuan Wang

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated by Yuan Wang, Director of Lavender Phoenix

Lavender Phoenix builds queer and transgender Asian and Pacific Islander power to amplify our voices and increase the visibility of our communities. Through organizing in the Bay Area, we inspire and train grassroots leaders, transform our values from scarcity to abundance, and partner with organizations to sustain a vibrant movement ecosystem. Lavender Phoenix is an Activist Care & Collaboration Fund grantee partner. 

What brought you to this work?

When I came out as transgender, I felt isolated and alone. I was afraid to leave my room, to go to work, to go to school, for fear of how people would respond when they saw me. It was hard for me to be my full self, even in the movement spaces I was a part of; I didn’t know if people would accept me. When I found LavNix, then known as APIENC, I knew I had to get involved. I joined as a Summer Organizer in our paid fellowship for young trans and queer API organizers, and have continued organizing with LavNix ever since.

How do you collaborate? Who are your partners?

Lavender Phoenix is committed to breaking the silos in our movements that threaten our unity and power. Our closest comrades include the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, Hmong Innovating Politics, and Gender Justice LA. Through providing hands-on trainings to practice trans justice, developing queer leaders from our partner organizations, and building movement hubs for trans leaders to connect across the state, we hope to grow a thriving, intersectional movement for justice.

What are you learning, and what are you teaching?

At Lavender Phoenix, we are learning and teaching that working for justice requires building spaces where belonging and purpose are centered. So many Lavender Phoenix members join us because they’ve never had that space. Many of them face transphobia and homophobia in their own homes and the places that should be community for them. When we practice belonging as a tool to build power, we ensure that the folks on the margins of our movements move to the center, and deeply know that they are needed.

Tell us about a recent victory that you’re proud of.

In August 2022, trans and non-binary leaders of LavNix’s Healing Justice Committee founded a free peer counseling program to provide mental health support to folks in our community facing deep isolation. They trained 20 trans and non-binary APIs to provide peer counseling. After two years of planning and learning, they were able to respond to every single request for peer counseling in their initial launch. Now, they’re planning a path to make this a long-term, expanded offering. They are showing us the care and the determination it takes to meet each other’s needs when systems and institutions deny us.

What can philanthropy and allies do better?

Our community needs funders who are committed to investing in the grassroots leadership of trans, non-binary, and queer communities of color. Our communities are facing disproportionate violence at the hands of the police, the medical industrial complex, and the immigration system, yet receive a fraction of funding support. We need progressive funders to help our groups grow, and lead movements for racial, gender, and economic justice from the frontlines.

What gives you hope?

This summer, 25 rising trans and queer API leaders joined us in a six-week training series. Together, we explored our community’s oft-silenced histories, practiced asking for help, learned to create spaces that center belonging and purpose, and more. At the end, one of our participants Ishita said: “I leave this summer with joy, love, a feeling of being seen, belonging in queerdom, and very, very inspired.” Continuing to develop new generations of leaders brings me hope.

December 15, 2022

Generation Spark: Three ways to be a better funder to girls and transgender and gender nonconforming youth of color

by the Ms. Foundation

In 2020, we released the groundbreaking report, Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less, which explored philanthropic funding and investment in women and girls of color (WGOC) across the country. The report found that total philanthropic giving to WGOC averages out to just $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States.

With new research, surveys, and focus group participation, we’ve released an appendix, Generation Spark: Igniting, Supporting, and Propelling Girls of Color, that takes a closer look at the national landscape of programs and organizations in the U.S. Generation Spark shares experiences and learnings from WGOC what is needed from the philanthropy community to best support girls of color and transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth of color in their advocacy efforts. 

Here are a few key learnings from the appendix for funders:

It’s essential to trust the leadership of girls and TGNC youth of color 

Philanthropy is historically risk-averse when it comes to funding organizations centering girls of color and TGNC youth of color.  

Past research shows that foundations typically consider risk from a technical perspective, where they consider:

  • The activities required for successful outcomes;
  • The likelihood of the activities going wrong; and
  • The seriousness of the damage if “wrong” happens. 

As a result of these considerations, foundations might be unwilling to seed new organizations — including organizations that do not have a long-track record of success, organizations that are youth-led, or organizations that are not nationally recognized. 

“[Philanthropists] don’t want to fund things that are very much at the grassroots. They want to fund things that they think are going to get a return on their investment… These tech bros get all of these millions of dollars and then they can fail all the time, but we have to jump through hoops to get $5K or $10K or $15K.”

Grants should be sustainable and unrestricted 

Philanthropy often does not consider the time and labor it takes to meet the grant requirements. A majority of leaders from our interviews reported coming from the grassroots level, without formal education or training on running a nonprofit. Despite informal training, they still reported achieving successful program and campaign outcomes while balancing tasks such as applying for grants, completing paperwork once the funds are received, and completing a report once the grant is complete.

In addition, philanthropy should increase their multi-year commitments to newer organizations. Smaller grants allow organizations to make progress, but that progress is quickly halted when executive directors have to tend to financial instability as evidenced by interviews and surveys with organizational leaders. Increased funding will help remove barriers such as burnout and negative mental health outcomes for executive leaders, providing them with more capacity to meet the needs of girls rather than the demands of philanthropy.

“A lot of us really just need a break. That’s really what I think would change the vigor of our work is if we had an opportunity to step back, and we typically don’t… There needs to be more unrestricted funds towards mental health and wellness.”

Funders must keep intersectionality in mind 

A lack of intersectional awareness is a major barrier to substantial funding. Foundations typically structure funding based on a single-issue system that does not consider the intersections of various identities. Thus, organizations that focus on a wide array of topics are usually forced into one category, which limits opportunities for funding. 

Work focusing on girls of color and TGNC youth of color requires an intersectional approach to truly understand how race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and class converge to impact their lives. 

 “Foundations don’t always see us because of their lack of understanding of [the Latina experience]…And their lack of understanding of immigration within Latin America. So when we say that we’re a Latina American and Caribbean organization… They don’t know where to put us.”

We’re continuing our strategic approach to invest in WGOC through our grantmaking initiatives, including the national Girls of Color Initiative, which provides funding, leadership development and capacity building resources to support the advocacy and movement building of adolescent girls of color – centering their advocacy needs. 

December 13, 2022

Grantee Partner Spotlight: El Pueblo

by Iliana Santillán

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated by Iliana Santillán, Executive Director of El Pueblo.

El Pueblo’s mission is to build collective power through leadership development, organizing, and direct action so that the Latin American community and other marginalized communities control our own stories and destinies. El Pueblo is a S.H.E. grantee partner. 

What brought you to this work? 

There are many things that led me to the work I do with my community today. I came to the United States at the age of 12 with my mom and brother, and we only had $50 to our names. One of my first memories in the U.S. is sitting in the back of the classroom feeling lost and helpless. I went from being ranked at the top of my class in Mexico to being ignored in America because I didn’t speak English. As a young adult, I pursued a career in education. I worked with children who were learning English as their second language. Everyone felt like they belonged in my classroom; all my students felt like their contributions were important. 

After 10 years of working in the education field, I left the classroom. The stories I heard and saw while I was a teacher are the reason I do the work I do now. Today, I am the Executive Director of El Pueblo, a nonprofit organization that works with youth and adult women to improve the lives of all North Carolinians. We advocate for driver’s licenses for undocumented people and in-state tuition for students who have DACA or no status at all. Together, we form a courageous and resilient community.

How do you connect/collaborate in your community? Key partners?

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of grassroots community leaders. They have taught me what it means to be accountable to my community. Our relationship is not always easy, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to make sure that the voices of community members who are directly impacted are at the forefront of our work. 

As a Latinx-led organization, we must accept that in order to really affect change, we must go beyond our comfort zone and take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror. Collaborations with non-Latinx organizations are crucial, but can seem transactional, so we’ve shifted the way we approach non-Latinx partners. We’ve been building and creating spaces and structures that encompass the broader community. Our key partners know that we are not only accountable to them, but also ready to do the work to dismantle anti-Blackness within the Latinx community.

What are you learning or what are you teaching? 

This is my second year as an Executive Director, so I am learning a lot. First and foremost, I’m learning to sustain a pace that allows me to enjoy life. A wise woman (El Pueblo’s previous Executive Director) once told me that burnout is real, and I didn’t believe her then. But now, I tread cautiously around work-life balance. I do this for me, but also for my staff. I want to make sure I am able to create a work environment that sustains curiosity, innovation, and enables my team to thrive both personally and professionally. I am also learning how to step into my power. Some days I wake up and I want to throw in the towel, but most days I wake up and I see what I am building and co-creating with my team and my community, and I can’t help but to feel an immense sense of gratitude and hope. 

Everything I am learning, I am teaching. I am fortunate enough to work with a team of amazing women. My hope is to support them as they step into their power. 

Tell us about a recent victory or something you’re proud of. 

I am proud of my team’s advocacy efforts at the North Carolina General Assembly (NGCA). This year we were able to defeat an anti-immigrant bill that would allow for ICE to collaborate with local law enforcement. SB 101, previously known as HB 370, has been a threat since 2019. Together, with grassroots community groups and a broad coalition of allies, we’ve defeated this bill twice. 

Defeating this bill was a victory. However, what brings me the most pride is the fact that we are owning our narratives and carving out spaces for our community. Leading groups of over 50 people to the NCGA is no easy task, but we have been working towards this moment for some time now. To defeat this bill, community leaders spoke to legislators and lifted their voices at committee hearings. We shared our narratives, made demands, and showed up in spaces where we are not welcome. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and the paths that we’ve forged for others to follow.

What can philanthropy do better and/or how can individuals be helpful allies?

Since COVID, I’ve seen a few improvements from the philanthropy front. More and more funders are starting to understand the complexities of our work and are beginning to prioritize our time. This includes making systems easier and more accessible to us and seeing us as worthy. In recent times, I’ve been able to access coaching for myself and for my staff. These investments have further established trust between organizations and foundations.

I have also seen improvements in allyship. Several years ago, I often found myself speaking to large audiences about the hardships of being an immigrant. This felt performative and it made me feel as if I was speaking on behalf of all immigrants, which was not the case. Today, I see more people taking the time to educate themselves and offer spaces where they themselves can educate their peers. I still speak in front of large audiences, but instead of narrating and justifying my experiences, folks are better equipped to ask specific action-oriented questions. So, I would say that instead of “preaching to the choir” we guide and direct actions together.    

What gives you hope? 

So many things give me hope! For one, my daughter Madison is a constant source of strength and inspiration. Throughout each phase of my life, she has challenged me to think long term and to think about how I am staying accountable to myself and my community while consistently sustaining a movement. Her patience and her resilience fill me with gratitude. 

The women I have the privilege of working with give me hope. They are wise and flexible enough to move the organization forward in a new direction. Since my time as executive director, we have hired a handful of talented young women who have grown in their roles and are critical to our work moving forward. I am incredibly grateful for their contributions, comradeship, and commitment to leading El Pueblo forward.

Lastly, my community, the women and the youth that I work with motivate me each day to continue to do the work I do. Their commitment and willingness to fight this fight gives me the strength to continue to do the same and show up each day with that same energy. It’s hard work but when I look at them it makes it a little easier knowing that I’m not alone in this fight.

December 12, 2022

Ms. Foundation on the Passing of Dorothy Pitman Hughes

NEW YORK (December 12, 2022) – Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO Teresa C. Younger released the following statement in response to the passing of Dorothy Pitman Hughes: 

“The Ms. Foundation for Women is deeply saddened by the loss of Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Dorothy was a transformational civil rights leader, community activist, and trailblazing feminist who challenged the movement to be more inclusive. As a Black feminist, she had a profound understanding of the ways in which societal issues intersect with one another and fought for long term, systemic solutions to address inequality. Dorothy was a dear friend of the Ms. Foundation and we are so grateful for her contributions to the feminist movement. We are thinking of her loved ones during this time and extend sincere condolences to her friends and family.” 

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For over 45 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has worked to build women’s collective power in the U.S. to advance equity and justice for all. The Ms. Foundation invests in, and strengthens the capacity of women led movements to advance meaningful social, cultural, and economic change in the lives of women. With equity and inclusion as the cornerstones of true democracy, the Ms. Foundation works to create a world in which the worth and dignity of every person are valued, and power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age. 

November 30, 2022

Building the Fire: Next steps in the movement for Indigenous reproductive justice

by Coya White Hat-Artichoker, Graphic Illustrations by Yen Azzaro

We started the Building the Fire Fund to address a gap within the reproductive justice movement: a national voice for Indigenous women and birthing people. Over the course of two years, we have slowly built an incredible network of leaders – our Advisory Council – who recognize the importance of a united presence and voice within the movement. For the reproductive justice movement to be complete, our power and presence is essential.

This month, 15 Indigenous reproductive justice leaders from the country convened in-person, in Minneapolis, to build relationships and plan for the future of this movement. We left the convening with three clear takeaways: 

We’re no longer alone 

After two years of meeting online only, it was a great opportunity for people to meet in-person. As tribal people, in-person gatherings often hold special meaning for us. The pandemic created an extra stress on native communities, while also increasing a sense of isolation. The ability to physically be in a room together, to hold community that was predominantly Indigenous, to build connections, was transformative. This work is no longer happening alone.

We’re grounded in our history 

The leaders discussed the history of the movement and built a timeline of the past, to the present moment, and to our potential future. We dreamed together, and created work groups. We are clear about building a national non-profit, board structures, roles and responsibilities, commitments of time, energy and staff. Our shared history and purpose drives us. This effort is not rooted in the pain of the past but the beauty of what’s possible and what’s to come.

We’re ready to move 

We feel a great sense of obligation to the past and the future, and we are incredibly motivated. There is a word that describes the building of energy in Lakota, it’s roughly translated to “ska ska.” There is an energy that exists now that was not here before. We have coalesced as leaders, and we have clarity of purpose. We have the energy to build something for the future, and our drive is pressing and urgent. We’re ready to go to work. We’re ready to assert the voices of Indigenous leadership in places it has not always been present. We are facing the future and we are ready to build for those who come after us.

On a personal note, the convening was deeply profound and moving for me. I was terrified most of the time, wanting it to go right. I believed if we brought the leaders together, we would all find our way and our roles. We did – it’s a strong group of generationally and geographically diverse leaders guided by our elders. It was heartening to hear our elders say, “We are ready to pass on our learning. We are so grateful for all the willing hands that are here to carry the work forward.”

We are very grateful to Ms. Foundation and the Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity for recognizing this gap and for convening these leaders. This convening allowed us to make huge leaps to identify how we’ll move forward. The sparks of a movement came and built a bonfire, and we are ready to get to work. 

To learn more about this work and support our efforts, visit our website. 

November 23, 2022

7 Things We’re Grateful For This Year

by Ms. Foundation

As we head into a season of gratitude and look back on the year, we’re taking a chance to reflect on what we’re grateful for. In a year that brought both triumphs and challenges for the larger feminism movement, we found joy and power in community, in laughter, in rest and in struggle. 

We asked staff from across the Ms. Foundation for Women to share what they’re grateful for – here’s what they said: 

I am grateful that even under the harshest repression criminalizing reproductive and trans health care, leaders and everyday people are building power. It reminds me that no matter what the law says, people will resist and find ways to care for each other.

Bri Barnett, Director of Institutional Partnerships 

I am grateful to be in a space where I am able to show up as myself and to be around others who are able to do the same. Where we are also reminded that our voices matter.

Ebun Olaloko, Executive Assistant and Board Coordinator

I am grateful for the example of elders who have been ‘fighting the same fights’ all their lives and still show up to teach the next generations hard-won skills and tactics. I am grateful for long-time donors who continue to show up in abundance for the evolving work of the foundation and our grantee partners. I am grateful for new voices, new vision, and new energy from young leaders. My persistence, my resistance, depends on ours.

Ruth McFarlane, Chief Advancement Officer 

I’m grateful for all the girls of color whose leadership inspires me every day.

Shawnda Chapman, Director of Innovative Grantmaking and Research

I am grateful to have a community that gave me the space to heal and I am grateful that I missed them.

Maureen McNamara, Development Coordinator

This year, I am grateful to work with such a multi-faceted, talented group of women!

Stephanie Rameau, Program Officer, Office of the President

I’m grateful for losing then finding my voice again. I appreciate it more this time around and will never let it go. I’m grateful that my biggest dream came true on April 16, 2014 when my son was born.

Alaya Gaddy, Grants Administrator 

November 17, 2022

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Healing to Action

by Sheerine Alemzadeh

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated by Sheerine Alemzadeh, Co-Director and Co-Founder of Healing to Action.

Healing to Action builds the leadership and collective power of the communities most impacted by gender-based violence to achieve economic and social equality using the resilience strategies survivors already possess. Healing to Action is an Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantee partner.

What brought you to this work? 

I started out as a public interest lawyer representing survivors of workplace sexual violence. During that time, I co-founded the Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence, a collaboration uniting Chicago’s labor and anti-violence movements to address sexual violence against low-wage workers. People in the Coalition voiced the need for a survivor-led, multicultural, response to prevent gender-based violence in their communities. 

In 2016, Karla Altmayer and I co-founded Healing to Action (HTA) to respond to this call to action. Our mission is to end gender-based violence (GBV) through building the leadership and collective power of the communities most impacted – people of color, people with disabilities, low-income people, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people. We achieve our mission through leadership development, grassroots organizing, and capacity building in collaboration with survivors. 

How do you connect/collaborate in your community? Who are your key partners? 

We are committed to working closely with organizations that represent the communities disproportionately impacted by GBV — organizations that focus on racial justice, economic justice, immigrant rights, disability justice, and those that seek to eradicate other forms of inequity. We recognize that it takes time to build trust to form partnerships, therefore we often start from a place of relationship-building between our staff, leaders and the organization’s constituents. As people have the chance to share their stories and create trust with each other, we transition into more strategic collaboration and partnership. Through these partnerships, we are able to connect with survivors, build coalitions of support for our survivor-led campaigns, and develop political education opportunities for our leaders. 

What are you learning or what are you teaching? 

We have two core programs that we developed in collaboration with low-income, immigrant, and undocumented survivors to build the collective power of survivors – our Healing Generations leadership development program and our capacity-building program for movement partner organizations. Our curricula educate survivors about the root causes of gender-based violence, including white supremacy, ableism, and capitalism, so that they can better understand the conditions that lead to violence and organize against them. They also receive skills-based training on topics like supporting trauma survivors, bystander intervention, and communicating about gender-based violence. Finally, they learn about core principles of community organizing, and look at case studies of survivor-led campaigns. 

Tell us about a recent victory or something you’re proud of

We are really excited to launch the Survivor Power Institute this fall. This program is the latest iteration of our capacity-building work, and was developed to respond to a growing demand for our training and technical assistance by organizations working for racial, economic, and gender justice. This intimate, two-day offering will enable a cohort of participants to learn the foundational principles for Healing to Action’s survivor-led work. Organizers, advocates, and leaders participating across different movements will collaborate to explore the root causes of gender-based violence, build concrete skills for supporting survivors, and co-create a critical dream space to imagine new iterations of survivor power.

What can philanthropy do better and/or how can individuals be helpful allies?

The best way to be an ally is to be curious. The problems we are working to solve are so complex, and no single organization or individual can be the solution. Creating accessible avenues for organizations like ours to explain our work to potential funders is really important for small and growing organizations. As a potential funder or donor, keeping the door open to learn from people you don’t know or approaches you haven’t tried is critical to support the innovation that’s needed to end an entrenched problem like gender-based violence. This openness is something we try to practice in our own work, and we focus on finding partners who share this value. 

What gives you hope? 

HTA’s survivor leaders give me so much hope. They are bold and fearless in building vulnerable relationships with each other, trying new skills, and truth-telling to people in power. At the collective level, seeing how a shared identity of survivorship has given leaders a sense of pride and purpose reminds me that even when carrying deep wounds, we can grow and flourish with the right community. 

One of our leaders said it beautifully: “HTA has allowed me to meet warriors that are strong as an oak. We are seeing the fruits of the plants that we have grown together.”

November 1, 2022

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Mauna Kea Education and Awareness

by Pua Case

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated by Pua Case, Lead Coordinator and Project Director of Mauna Kea Education and Awareness.

MKEA’s mission is to educate and raise the awareness of communities in Hawai’i and beyond on the spiritual, historical, cultural, environmental, and political significance of Mauna Kea and provide cultural learning opportunities to everyone. MKEA is a FY21 Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantee partner.

What brought you to this work? 

My name is Pua Case and my mountain is Mauna Kea. I am a mother of two daughters and a teacher, chanter and dancer, cultural practitioner, community resource, protector and activist. I am born and raised on Hawai’i, with native ancestry to the valleys of ‘Awini. I was raised by my grandmother and those who taught me about my birthplace and my responsibility to care for it. I know intimately of the relationship my people shared with the land and the sea. I have devoted my life to teaching and reconnecting people with their cultural traditions and practices. From the summit of Mauna Kea to the depths of the Pacific Ocean, my profound connection to both fuels my passion, shapes my prayers, and ignites my actions to support the efforts of native and local communities who are protecting their own resources, life ways and places.

In 2015, I facilitated the creation of Mauna Kea Education and Awareness (MKEA). The organization began in response to the proposed building of an 18-story Thirty Meter Telescope on the upper slopes of a mountain the native Hawai’ians view as sacred. It serves as the water source for the island and the landscape that practitioners use to maintain and sustain the life ways of their ancestors. 

How do you connect/collaborate in your community? Key partners?

MKEA has emerged as a constant presence for Mauna Kea, setting the momentum, creating the materials, and delivering the instruction necessary to spread the message of Mauna Kea’s sacredness and history, as well as its current status and the issues surrounding it. With the challenges faced from so many different sources, it has taken constant collaboration, organizing, energy, time, work and funding to ensure that the mauna is ever present in our minds and our hearts. We have realized that no one organization would be able to sustain and maintain the strength and perseverance it would take to halt the projects, the over-development, and the social injustices to the native people of Hawai’i.

MKEA team members have had the blessing, privilege and good fortune over the years to travel  on behalf of Mauna Kea spreading the message of the mountain to many parts of the world. Throughout our travels and our work, we have built international, national and local alliances, collaborations, relationships, support systems, and friendships with tribal nations, organizations and individuals.

What are you learning or what are you teaching? 

MKEA was formed around the mission to educate and raise the awareness of communities in Hawai’i and beyond on the spiritual, historical, cultural, environmental, and political significance of Mauna Kea and provide cultural learning opportunities to everyone from keiki to kupuna, residents, visitors and others concerned about Indigenous rights and responsibilities in order to create a platform for protection of sacred places and for social justice and positive change.

Throughout the duration of this work, MKEA has learned that this organization must continue to offer diverse, creative and constant opportunities and information in order to ensure that Mauna Kea maintains its role as the “pala” or sealant, beacon, unifier and symbol for Hawai’i and the world. 

Tell us about a recent victory or something you’re proud of. 

In 2019, MKEA applied for and received a Seventh Generation Thriving Women’s Grant to collaborate on a short film project, Standing Above the Clouds (SATC), which focused specifically on the women of the Mauna Kea movement. It aimed to provide a glimpse into the lives of three families of intergenerational women activists called Mana Wahine, or Kia’i, guardians of the mountain.

SATC premiered in November 2019 at the Hawai’i International Film Festival on O’ahu. The film has since been shown at over 40 film festivals all over the world. Many of the showings have been accompanied with panels or presentations featuring the Mana Wahine, women in the film, and film production crew. SATC was featured at the PBS Short Film Festival and was the Golden Reel Award Winner for Best Documentary Short, at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2020. SATC is currently being expanded into a feature film which should be released in 2023. 

What do you need from funders or how can people help? 

MKEA is grateful to all of the funders who have believed in and supported the vision, mission and objectives carried through by the circle of contributors who have enabled this organization to be a constant presence for Mauna Kea. The majority of funding obtained by MKEA is the result of extensive grant writing efforts and MKEA applies regularly for funds and fundraises for programs, events, presentations, direct instruction, lessons and materials.

What gives you hope? 

It’s our hope that MKEA will remain a pivotal force and a constant reminder through all means possible to inspire, activate, and engage the people not just in this moment but for the long term. For the last 12 years, individuals, organizations, native people, and allies have successfully halted all construction attempts, built a steadfast alliance with nations around the world with numbers that have grown by the thousands. Together we will continue to rise like a mighty wave. E Hū e Hū!

October 13, 2022

Ms. Foundation Announces More Than $5.2M in Funding for Fiscal Year 2022, Supporting More Than 150 Grantee Partners Across the Country

With 97% of its grantee portfolio comprised of organizations led by women and girls of color, the nation’s oldest women’s foundation continues concerted effort to invest in those at the forefront of the fight for social justice.

NEW YORK (OCTOBER 13, 2022) – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women announced more than $5.2 million in direct grants for their recent 2022 fiscal year, increasing their grantmaking capacity by more than $1 million since last year. This year’s grants provided general operating support for more than 150 grantee partners throughout the country, overwhelmingly led by and for women and girls of color, to help advance a wide variety of projects in order to strengthen reproductive justice, improve economic security, and support equity and justice for all.

FY22 funding represented a wider, balanced portfolio of rural, urban, emerging, and established organizations with a concerted effort to invest and support women and girls of color (WGOC), including trans and non-binary people, with 97% of organizations led by and for WGOC. The funding increase and grantee portfolio expansion reflects the addition of the Birth Justice Initiative, which aims to advance equitable birth outcomes and strengthen the capacity, organizational infrastructure, and financial stability of grassroots Black, Indigenous and women of color-led organizations. The Ms. Foundation launched this initiative in March in order to address the stark racial disparities in women’s health and maternal mortality rates. 

“Community and grassroots organizers possess the solutions to society’s greatest challenges, but philanthropic giving does not always reflect this truth,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation. “The Ms. Foundation is proud to uplift this year’s grantee partners who represent trailblazers at the helm of social justice. We urge the rest of the philanthropic community to make space for organizations led by and for women and girls of color, which have the power to create radical change if we are explicit and intentional with our giving efforts. Our communities and our fundamental human rights are under attack, and there has never been a more crucial time for this work.”

Grantmaking strategies continue to reflect and evolve from the Foundation’s groundbreaking 2020 report, Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less, which provided a baseline understanding of philanthropic funding and investment in WGOC throughout the U.S and its territories. The report found that total philanthropic giving to WGOC averages out to just $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States – and the amount for WGOC in the South is the lowest in the nation, at less than half the national average.

“This year, we knew that in order to address the multiple issues facing women and girls of color, our grantmaking strategy had to be multidimensional and holistic,” said Ellen Liu, VP of Grantmaking and Capacity Building of the Ms. Foundation. “As an intersectional feminist foundation, our goal is to center the leadership, voices, and experiences of women and girls of color, and each of our partners embody this mission. While our portfolio represents a diverse variety of organizations, they share the same goal to advance equity and justice for all, and we are honored to support their vital work.” 

The funds support key programs and ongoing initiatives that center the voices of women and girls of color on the frontlines and bolster them through capacity building, policy and advocacy, leadership development, strategic communications, and political organizing; and are allocated through the following:  

For nearly five decades, the Ms. Foundation for Women has made grants totaling more than $82 million to build women’s power across the country and values the amazing work being done by all grantee partners. For equity purposes, please visit our website to see the full grantee list

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The Ms. Foundation for Women transforms our democracy by building women’s collective power. Guided by a gender and racial justice lens, we resource grassroots movements that center women and girls of color, advance feminism in philanthropy, and advocate for policies that improve women’s lives across the country. Since 1973, we’ve opened up worlds of possibility for women and girls. But to finally achieve justice for all, we need you in our fight. ​Learn more and get involved at ForWomen.org.