MS. FOUNDATION LAUNCHES “MS. SOUTH” GRANT TO BENEFIT SOUTHERN ORGANIZATIONS LED BY WOMEN AND GIRLS OF COLOR
Nation’s oldest women’s foundation plans to strengthen financial sustainability and leadership development capacity of women and girls of color in the U.S. South
NEW YORK (December 10, 2020) – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women announced the launch of Ms. South, 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 are living in a historic moment,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation. “The COVID pandemic has exacerbated a crisis amidst an existing one, and our ability to support the leadership of women and girls of color in the South is more critical than ever. Our sisters of color in the South represent the future of this country, and we must shine a light on their enduring struggle and strength.”
In July, the Ms. Foundation commissioned a report titled 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.
Given these findings, the Ms. Foundation is announcing a pivot in their grantmaking efforts to address 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.
Women and girls of color are frontline leaders and organizers in the social change movements that have paved the way for a more equitable and just democracy. As seen during this most recent election, women of color mobilized their communities as they have done throughout 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.
To remedy this, the Ms. Foundation team has been in deep learning and listening with southern leaders. Given the polarization that the nation is experiencing and an extreme, divisive political culture, the Ms. Foundation believes that using an intersectional framework will wield the full strength of WGOC’s knowledge, experience, and networks and lead to transformational change.
“The South is a region where women and girls of color have the least access to philanthropic resources while leading innovative and impactful efforts to advance equity and justice for all,” said Roz Lee, Vice President of Strategy and Programs at the Ms. Foundation. “Ms. has a strong history of supporting WGOC-led grassroots advocacy and leadership in the South, and is eager to partner with social justice leaders and Southern funders to go deeper.”
The Ms. Foundation will seek to assemble a balanced portfolio of rural, urban, emerging, and established organizations. By advocating for greater investment within the philanthropic community, the organization aims to influence philanthropy to increase giving to WGOC by a significant margin.
Initial Letters of Inquiry are due by January 8, 2021. To learn more about the application process for Ms. South, visit here.
Informational webinars about Ms. South will be held on December 10 and 17 at 3:30 pm ET. To register for a webinar, visit here.
ABOUT THE MS. FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN
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, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $65 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity, particularly women of color around the country. The Ms. Foundation is determined to center the voices of women of color on the frontlines and bolster them through grantmaking, capacity building, policy and advocacy, leadership development, strategic communications, and political organizing. Learn more and get involved at ForWomen.org.