The Nation’s Oldest Women’s Public Foundation to Grow Commitment to Organizations Advancing Gender Equity to More than $25 Million over Five Years
Foundation to Form Its First Ever Political Fund to Support Grassroots Legislative Action and Local Policy Reforms
NEW YORK (August 7, 2018) — Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women announced its new strategic plan, which centers its grant-making and advocacy structure to invest — inclusively, and intentionally — in women and girls of color as a means to create social, cultural, and economic equity for all genders.
The nation’s oldest women’s foundation is taking a bold, and unapologetic approach to building power and advancing democracy by investing, over five years, $25 million towards resources and support for organizations led by and for women of color. In addition to financial resources, they will extend their grantee-partner support to help build capacity, support policy advocacy, and strategic communications, and will form its first ever 501(c)(4) fund to support grassroots political movements.
“An accurate herstory tells us that women of color have been on the frontlines of nearly every movement in this country — from reproductive rights, immigrant rights, and civil rights, to economic justice, and criminal justice reform,” said Teresa C. Younger, President & CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “We are a political force to be reckoned with, and in 2018, we delivered unprecedented electoral wins in Alabama, Georgia, and New York — yet we are sorely underrepresented in philanthropic investment, with only 2% of that spending going to women and girls of color. It’s time that we champion and do all we can to ensure that women and girls of color are in power, at the tables of power and are supported as movement leaders.”
There is an urgent need—now more than ever—to support leaders and organizations led by and for women of color who remain on the frontlines of a wide range of issues including immigration rights, reproductive and economic justice, voter suppression, violence against the trans community, and state sanctioned violence, as well as those setting a path to propel more women—particularly women of color—into elected and appointed positions.
Despite the legacy of oppression against women and girls and the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration, violence, poverty, lack of healthcare, workplace inequities and other hardships on marginalized communities, movement building organizations either led by or serving women and girls of color only receive 2% of philanthropic dollars. Leveraging its 44-year legacy of building movements and collective power, the Foundation’s plan highlights and recognizes the urgent need to center the issues and policies directly impacting the lives of women and girls of color as part of an interconnected approach to building political power for all.
The Ms. Foundation will direct financial and capacity building resources to its grantee-partners to not only support their immediate needs but to increase the number of grassroots organizations it can support, and invite and challenge the philanthropic sector to join us in our investment in women and girls of color.
The Ms. Foundation will continue to support organizations advancing the causes of safety, health, and economic justice (SHE), and to better address systemic oppression, the Foundation will align its legislative priorities around securing the social and economic safety net, building and advancing democracy, and ending state sponsored violence, including police brutality and the inhumane incarceration of women.
To achieve maximum social impact, the Ms. Foundation’s strategic plan will center six core strategies including:
- Scaling Up Grantmaking and Philanthropic Advocacy
- Capacity Building to Support Movement Leaders and Social Justice Infrastructure
- Ramping Up Policy and Advocacy Strategies to Win
- Enhancing Strategic Communications to Sharpen and Amplify Messaging
- Supporting the Building Connections Initiative for Greater Collective Impact
- Building Political Power by Forming a 501(c)(4) Arm
The strategic plan highlights two new core strategies for the organization. Through the formation of its first ever 501(c)(4) fund, the Ms. Foundation will support local grassroots leadership as they develop long term political strategies to elect women and advance legislation and policies central to the movements impacting the lives of women’s lives, especially women and girls of color. Additionally, through the Ms. Foundation’s new Buildings Connections Initiative, the Foundation will foster increased coordination across social movements, sectors, and inter-generational to ensure the issues impacting women and girls of color are centered, and to maximize collective movement impact.
“At a time when there is an urgent need for bold leadership to lift up all women and push back against divisive rhetoric and regressive policies, we are being explicit and unapologetic about our focus on women of color,” said Jocelyn Frye, Board Chair of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “As a leader in advocating for a strong feminist vision in philanthropy, we want to be clear about our goal to build power and enable women and girls of color to strengthen their communities while working for justice and equity for all. We hope to spur change throughout the philanthropic sector and inspire other foundations to champion the leaders of color who are working daily to make meaningful change for all genders.”
Since 1973, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $65 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity for women across the country. The majority of funding provided by the Ms. Foundation is general overhead, which grantee-partners can use as they wish and is often the most flexible form of funding grassroots organizations receive. The Ms. Foundation is often a first, lead, or seed funder for organizations, and are aligned to ensure they can maintain and expand their work in an organic and healthy way.
For more information and to read more about the Ms. Foundation’s strategic plan, please visit: Forwomen.org/strategic-plan-2018
For over 40 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.
Tolu Onafowokan and Caroline Humphrey