The Ms. Foundation is launching a multi-year programmatic strategy to strengthen the financial sustainability and leadership development capacity of organizations led by women and girls of color in the U.S. South. Our initial grantmaking of $1,000,000 will support WGOC-led groups in the U.S. South across the spectrum of organizing and supporting our communities.
We are living in a historic moment. The COVID pandemic has exacerbated a crisis where one existed already. Our ability to support the leadership of WGOC is critical now more than ever. Our sisters of color represent the future of this country, demographically, and we have an obligation to shine a light on them, their struggle, and their strength. Given the polarization that the nation is experiencing and an extreme, divisive political culture, we believe that using an intersectional framework will wield the full strength of WGOC’s knowledge, experience, and networks and lead to transformational change.
Women and Girls of Color are pivotal frontline leaders and organizers in the powerful social change movements that have paved the way for a more equitable and just democracy. They have led nearly every impactful grassroots movement in United States history. They are the primary constituency most impacted by inequity and live at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression including white supremacy, patriarchy, colonization, and unbridled capitalism. And yet, their work is under-resourced.
The Ms. Foundation commissioned a report called “Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less” and it provided us with a baseline of philanthropic funding and investment in WGOC throughout the United States and territories. We found that total philanthropic giving to WGOC averages out to less than $6.00 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.
The Ms. Foundation program team has been in deep learning and listening with southern leaders. While the need for more support of WCOG in the South is great, so too is the opportunity for strategic investment. Southern states have high and fast-growing populations of WGOC. The presence or emergence of regressive legislation in these states has the ability to influence the policy environments in other states. The South is home to current and former Ms. grantees whose expertise we can build upon. It is a place where other existing and potential funders can partner in this work to increase investment in WGOC.
Given these facts and findings, we are pivoting our grantmaking to address these funding disparities and capitalize on opportunities to move forward a WGOC-led agenda in 14 states in the South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. We will seek to assemble a balanced portfolio of rural, urban, emerging, and established organizations. By advocating for greater investment within the philanthropic community, we seek to influence philanthropy to increase giving to WCOG by a significant margin. We will support organizations led by WGOC, track that support, and explicitly name it, and we will encourage other funders to engage in these practices as well. We are grateful for the support of our founders and allies as we pivot to where we *know* the need is the greatest.
1 Information Sessions D̶e̶c̶.̶ ̶1̶0̶,̶ ̶2̶0̶2̶0̶ ̶(̶3̶:̶3̶0̶ ̶P̶M̶ ̶E̶T̶)̶
D̶e̶c̶.̶ ̶1̶7̶,̶ ̶2̶0̶2̶0̶ ̶(̶3̶:̶3̶0̶ ̶P̶M̶ ̶E̶T̶)̶
2 Letters of Inquiry due Jan. 8, 2021
3 Application Full Applications invited Feb. 5, 2021
Full Applications due Feb. 26, 2021
4 Notification of Awards Final award notifications will be sent by mid-April
For a full description of Ms. South, check out:
Informational Webinar #1
Informational Webinar #2