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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.

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.

FY2022 Grantee Partners At-A-Glance

by Ms. Foundation

We announced more than $5.2 million in direct grants for the 2022 fiscal year, increasing our grantmaking capacity by more than $1 million since last year.

These 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.

“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.”

Below, learn a bit about this year’s docket from the program officers leading each initiative, then head to the initiative pages to see their grantees! Read our full press release HERE.

S.H.E.

S.H.E. is an integrated cross-movement building strategy to advance women’s safety, health and economic justice.

“For the last several years, Ms. Foundation for Women has supported intersectional feminist work through a unified, overall grantmaking and capacity building program approach across social justice issues and movements. We fund thriving, resistant, and vibrant social movements led by and for people who are directly targeted by white supremacy and the patriarchy. Our grantee partners are leading the most innovative social justice efforts of our time, and by deepening our investment in them, we are supporting equity and justice for all.”

See the full list of S.H.E. grantees HERE.

Building Connections Initiative

The Building Connections Initiative is a single-year general operating grants to foster increased coordination across social movements, sectors, and inter-generational to ensure the issues impacting women and girls of color are centered to maximize collective impact.

“Building Connections increases partnerships and collaboration across social movements and sectors because we understand that our advancements and obstacles are interconnected. We fund these organizations because of their work to elevate and write into history the collective power of women and girls. Our work is to amplify our grantee partners creating change by funding them and being in relationship with those who do the work on both a local and national level.”

See the full list of Building Connections Initiative grantees HERE.

Activist Collaboration & CARE Fund

The Activist Collaboration & Care Fund (ACF) is a single-year grant supporting transformational movement building to strengthen collaboration across organizations, learn with movement leaders, and increase investment in social justice movements across the country to build collective power

“The Ms. Foundation has a long history of funding where the road ends. We aim to be innovative and proactive in supporting intersectional feminist movements and we strongly believe that communities most impacted by social problems are also best equipped to develop solutions. The central focus of this years funding opportunity came in direct response to continued multi-pronged attacks, threats, reversals of fundamental rights and the ongoing criminalization of women, girls and nonbinary people of color, particularly in queer and trans communities.”

See the full list of Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantees HERE.

Girls of Color Initiative

Launched in 2020, the Girls of Color Initiative is a national initiative that provides grantmaking, leadership development and capacity building resources to support the advocacy and movement building of adolescent girls and gender expansive youth of color in the U.S. and its territories.  The Girls of Color Initiative envisions a world where the power and possibilities of girls and gender expansive youth of color are not limited by race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disabilities or other axes of identity. 

“We believe that girls and gender expansive youth of color are the experts of their own experiences, and with the right opportunities, they have the ability, ideas, and passion to write their own stories, create their own futures, and drive change in their own communities and in the world. We are convinced that the ideas and solutions of girls of color are essential to carry this vision forward. Girls and gender expansive youth of color don’t just want to see change in their communities around these issues, they want to create it.”

See the full list of Girls of Color Initiative grantees HERE.

Ms. South

Ms. South is a multi-year grantmaking strategy to support the sustainability and leadership of organizations led by women and girls of color (WGOC) in the southern region of the United States

“We envision Ms. South as part of a new and transformative ecosystem, a catalyst, to help grow and support resistance in the South. Given that, we have committed to these groups, who we believe are doing the work to ensure that women and girls of color can step into their power and create the structural changes needed to live full and healthy lives.”

See the full list of Ms. South grantees HERE.

Birth Justice Initiative

The Birth Justice Initiative is new grantmaking strategy to build power within the birth justice movement, increase connectivity and collaboration between birth justice organizations and movement leaders, and provide philanthropic advocacy, thought partnership, and thought leadership, to influence the movement of more resources to the Birth Justice movement.

“Black, Indigenous and women of color are key experts and decision-makers in shaping policy and culture change around birth justice. By investing directly into organizations led by and for women and girls of color, we are ensuring that the movement to address racial based disparities in healthcare including birth experiences and outcomes is led by those who are impacted most. Strengthening the collective power of communities of color is critical to addressing the root causes of these disparities and advancing birth justice for all.”

See the full list of Birth Justice grantees HERE.

October 10, 2022

Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day

by Ms. Foundation

Today and always, we strive to honor and uplift the heritage and experiences of Indigenous people – and in particular Indigenous women and girls – as they fight against the lingering effects of colonization, white supremacy and erasure that their communities continue to face. 

Since its early days, the Ms. Foundation has understood the importance of following the leadership and thinking of Indigenous women such as Wilma Mankiller, revolutionary Cherokee Nation chief and former Ms. Foundation board member (1986-1991), who said, “We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done.”

We’re proud to support a number of Indigenous movement leaders and grantee partners, such as Native Action Network, Native American Community Board, Indigenous Women Rising, Tewa Women United, Dine Breastfeeding Coalition, Women’s Health Specialist clinics, and more, who are building community and fighting for justice. 

We continue to assess and change the role that philanthropy plays in supporting Indigenous communities. Our groundbreaking report, Pocket Change, found that of the funding available to women and girls of color, only 2.6% benefits Indigenous women and girls. In early 2021, the Ms. Foundation and the Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity convened an Indigenous Women’s Council to identify vital funding needs for Indigenous women, and what emerged was the lack of quality health care and the limits placed on Native women’s reproductive choices. 

Cover of Tired Of Dancing To Their Song: An Assessment of the Indigenous Women’s Reproductive Justice Funding Landscape

Digging deeper, we released a new report, Tired Of Dancing To Their Song, which analyzes the Indigenous women’s reproductive justice funding landscape. This report’s findings and work of the Indigenous Women’s Council served as the basis for the launch of the Building the Fire Fund. This fund aims to contribute to the next level of organizing and provide ongoing infrastructure to build and recognize reproductive justice in Indian Country and uphold and uplift the leadership of Indigenous women and birthing people within the larger reproductive justice movement. 

Native women have long seen a connection between their tribal sovereignty and their body sovereignty – the right to make choices about their bodies is deeply rooted in their cultural understanding. Restricting their reproductive freedom is a direct byproduct of colonization and institutional systems that resulted from loss of land promised to them and poor quality of health care. 

The voices of Native women have always been critical to the conversation around reproductive justice because Native women understand what true sovereignty means to them, and their ability to share that history can only augment movements across the country. 

Photo: Courtesy of Wilma Mankiller Foundation

October 6, 2022

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Somos Familia

by Maritza Martínez

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 Maritza Martínez, Executive Director of Somos Familia.

Somos Familia has a mission of creating support and acceptance for Latinx lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning youth and their families. Somos Familia is an Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantee partner.

What brought you to this work?

Before being introduced to Somos Familia, I had never seen a Latina mom openly proud of their LGBTQ+ child. I had met some accepting family members and some family members who weren’t supportive, but never a parent proudly and publicly proclaiming their child is LGBTQ+. It wasn’t until I saw a video from Somos Familia, Tres Gotas de Agua, that I realized the power families hold in transforming our communities and our cultural biases. Tres Gotas de Agua tells the story of Mirna, Dolores, and Susana, three moms with LGBTQ+ kids, and has been viewed around the globe and continues to inspire people even after 11 years.

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

Somos Familia partners with Mujeres Unidas y Activas, El/La para Translatinas, and many other community organizations to train their staff, volunteers, and members on how to better support LGBTQ+ Latinxs and their families as part of their work. We also partner with Bay Area schools serving Latinx students to create inclusive environments for families. Our work reaches families regardless of whether they have or know they have LGBTQ+ children to transform our community as a whole into a safe space. Celebrating LGBTQ+ identities and experiences is a community-wide concern because sexual orientation and gender bias is indicative of the deeply ingrained machista culture.

What are you learning or what are you teaching?

Somos Familia builds leadership in our Latinx families and communities to create a culture where people of diverse genders and sexual orientations can thrive. This is critical because family support plays a huge role in the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.

We support families to better understand, celebrate, and advocate for LGBTQ+ loved ones through educational workshops and our twice monthly Familias y Diversidad support group. We host a group specifically for transmasculine identified Latinxs. We partner with schools and community organizations to host Spanish-language workshops and create materials to increase understanding of LGBTQ+ identities and experiences, including an animated series, self-guided learning site, and podcast.

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

This year we are celebrating 15 year of service to the community. We will be celebrating all that we have accomplished and all the people who have had a hand in creating change in our community. One of my favorite memories is from 2019 when we hosted the first gathering of Latinx families with LGBTQ+ loved ones at Stanford University. Forty families from around California came together to share their experiences, learn from each other, and organize to fight for LGBTQ+ rights. There were so many breakthrough conversations, learnings, hugs and tears. And we can’t wait to do it again.

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

Supporting LGBTQ+ people in your family and community is transformative and makes a real difference. Rejection hurts LGBTQ+ people in many visible and invisible ways but the one thing it doesn’t do is change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We encourage you to take a few initial steps to being an ally to queer and trans people in your life. Here are a few simple steps: 

  1. Always share your pronouns when introducing yourself. This creates space for others to do the same. 
  2. Avoid assuming that everyone is heterosexual and on the gender binary. 
  3. Support LGBTQ+ led organizations, like Somos Familia, working to increase acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ+ identities.

What gives you hope?

Our people are resilient. We have been through a lot and we’ve kept on going. These past few years have been filled with loss and fear, but I have also seen joy and solidarity every step of the way. Whether it was pandemic Zoom dance parties, people sharing their skills, funds, and talents to support each other, or those long awaited hugs and in-person interactions after prolonged periods of isolation, I have seen community show up for each other in very meaningful ways and that gives me hope that we can overcome anything together.

September 29, 2022

Ms. Welcomes Stephanie Rameau

by Ms. Foundation

Stephanie Rameau joins the Ms. Foundation as a Program Officer in the Office of the President.

What brought you to the Ms. Foundation? 

The strategic way President and CEO Teresa Younger is urging the philanthropic sector to invest in and prioritize women and girls of color brought me to the Ms. Foundation for Women. Years ago, I coordinated a Woman of Color Strategy Dinner that Teresa attended. I managed the event and got to learn about these brilliant women by coordinating with their teams, pulling their bios, and researching their career trajectories. One of the many gifts of that role was the opportunity to cultivate a mental Rolodex of badass women of color women in the reproductive justice world. Teresa’s work at Ms. has been at the top of that list ever since. It’s incredible to have seen how she has led the Ms. Foundation over the past eight years and to support her leadership.

What gets you out of bed every morning?

Lately, it’s been Beyoncé’s album Renaissance. I’ll say, “I’ll just listen to “America Has a Problem,” and then I find myself at “Alien Superstar” and dramatically whispering “UNIQUE!” The concepts of rebirth and renewal inspire me. The promise of being able to create a new experience each day gets me out of bed. We live in a constant stream of assaults, indignities, and disrespect; how do we sustain ourselves given these circumstances? How do we look after our physical and mental well-being? Create joyful moments? How do we create a world for young girls coming after us that is better? This country owes Black and brown women so much. If you do the research, every social movement in U.S. history owes its success to the work of women of color activists. The structural inequalities we face each day have been constructed for decades so investments in undoing the harms they have caused must also be coordinated and long-term. 

What is your most significant achievement to date – personal or professional?

My most significant achievements to date have been the relationships I have built and nurtured. So much about these past few years has been a challenge, between state violence, multiple public health emergencies, a potential recession, and attacks on our bodies. Pandemic life in NYC has been unlike anything I have experienced, and there is no going back to “normal,” but those relationships have made it bearable.

Which badass feminist/woman inspires you? 

The writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay inspires me. Her work has been influential to me because she writes so frankly and unapologetically about feminism and the deep inequities in our society. When transitioning into this new role, a colleague and friend of mine gifted me a copy of The Selected Work of Audre Lorde, edited by Gay. In 2018, I had a chance to hear Gay speak at a New York Public Library event in conversation with poet and activist Aja Monet to discuss Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, an essay collection on assault. I also saw her discuss her memoir Hunger in conversation with Tayari Jones, the author of American Marriage at the 92nd Street Y. I could listen to Roxane speak forever; she’s one of my favorite authors on gender and race.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To younger Stephanie, I would say it is not only okay but crucial that you bet on yourself. The hobby you want to take up, the project you want to start, the graduate program you want to apply to, the cohort application you bookmarked…pursue those opportunities early and often. You don’t have to have all the pieces together before you start. Be deliberate about your steps, but also believe in yourself enough to do it scared! That is what I would say to her.

September 28, 2022

Ms. Foundation on International Safe Abortion Day

NEW YORK (September, 28 2022) – Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO Teresa C. Younger released the following statement in recognition of International Safe Abortion Day:

“Today, on International Safe Abortion Day, the Ms. Foundation acknowledges that this year, for the first time in nearly half a century, the United States can no longer guarantee the right to a safe abortion. The egregious decision put forth by the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson destroyed over fifty years of precedent set forth by Roe. Vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It is an assault on reproductive justice, fundamental healthcare, and the bodily autonomy of women, transgender and nonbinary people across the country, and the lives of birthing people are in jeopardy because of the recklessness of a minority determined to impose their radical beliefs on the majority. 

“Not only have we stepped drastically into the past, but attempts to put forth legislation that would create a federal ban on abortions have made it clear that they want to strip our rights even further. We cannot and will not stop fighting, and it’s crucial that we elect representatives who will work to codify the right to an abortion.

“International Safe Abortion Day was first celebrated as a day of action by women’s groups in Latin America and the Caribbean. We continue to learn from the successful, inclusive campaigns of feminists in the Global South. As we commemorate today’s 23rd anniversary, let’s be clear that banning abortions doesn’t lead to the end of abortions, but only the end of safe abortions. Abortion is healthcare and access to a safe abortion must be a fundamental right for all. 

“Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, the Ms. Foundation has always supported safe abortion access in the U.S. and we are committed to continue supporting grantee partners such as: Provide, Inc., URGE, Surge Reproductive Justice, Alabama Cohosh Collective, Midwest Access Coalition, Desert Star Institute for Family Planning, Inc., and more who are leading the movement across the country for reproductive justice.”

Ms. Foundation spokespeople are available for interviews by phone or video from NYC. To schedule, please contact Sunshine Sachs at MsFoundation@sunshinesachs.com.