172 posts categorized "Women & Girls"

Review: 'Upper Hand: The Future of Work for the Rest of Us'

May 20, 2022

Book_cover_Upper_HandIt is anticipated that over the next decade, over 30 percent of the workforce in the United States will need to be retrained or change jobs due to shifts in technology and automation. With this impeding shift, much needs to be done to ensure that marginalized Black and brown communities, who have already been left behind and disadvantaged by the digital divide, are able to adapt to and navigate this future.

As Sherrell Dorsey argues in Upper Hand: The Future of Work for the Rest of Us, “We’ve made getting into the technology space extremely complex. But it doesn’t have to be…we can include ourselves in the rooms and tables that will carry us into opportunities that enable higher salaries, strategies for navigating an education that won’t leave us in insurmountable debt, and career prospects that allow us to be pillars within our families and communities.”

This is exactly what Dorsey's book aims to do. She crafts a call to action for both individuals and society that uses personal stories, evidence, and clear action items as a guide toward achieving a more equitable future within this shifting landscape....

Read the full review by Kate Meyers Emery, digital communications manager at Candid.

Bold and intersectional funding: A Q&A with Ana L. Oliveira, President and CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation

April 13, 2022

Headshot_AnaOliveira_New_York_Womens_FoundationAna L. Oliveira has served as president and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation (The Foundation) since 2006, after leading Gay Men’s Health Crisis for seven years as its first woman and Latina executive director. Oliveira grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, earned an MA in medical anthropology from the New School for Social Research, and directed community-based programs at Samaritan Village, the Osborne Association, and Kings County and Lincoln hospitals.

Under Oliveira’s leadership, The Foundation has expanded its grantmaking—starting with a 20 percent increase in 2009, to $3.3 million—and awarded $9 million in 2021, bringing total grant dollars awarded to date to more than $100 million.

PND asked Oliveira about her priorities for 2022, the importance of investing in grassroots organizations, the fight for reproductive rights and criminal justice reform, and women’s and LGBTQ individuals’ advancement in the sector.

Philanthropy News Digest: In announcing that your foundation had reached $100 million in cumulative grantmaking over 35 years in support of community-based solutions to create a more equitable and just future for women, girls, and gender-expansive people, you noted that “we are also aware of the work left to do.” What are your top priorities for 2022? And for the next $100 million?

Ana L. Oliveira: The Foundation’s focus has been and will remain on investing in women and gender-expansive leaders to advance justice in their communities. This marks a pivotal year for The Foundation, as we celebrate our anniversary and will host the 35th annual Celebrating Women® Breakfast on May 11. Our top priorities in 2022 include deepening our practice of participatory and inclusive philanthropy, altering the traditional power structure of more traditional philanthropic approaches. We will deepen our proximity to community, increasing the presence of those with lived experience at all tables at The Foundation. We will continue to focus on funding those creating and organizing a city and a country that works for all through their gender, racial, and economic equity movements. We believe in a vibrant and participatory civil society, so we will also increase our support to those protecting and expanding democratic practices in the U.S.

We will also start our work to distribute our next $100 million in grants in the next 10 years! It will reflect our commitment to continued bold and intersectional funding that honors the leadership and vision of women and gender-expansive people....

Read the full Q&A with Ana L. Oliveira, president and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation.

How organizations are responding to the Ukraine crisis

March 08, 2022

Ukraine_credit_Joel Carillet_GettyImages-1371827450According to UNHCR, between February 24 and March 8, 2022, an estimated 2,011,312 refugees left Ukraine. The vast majority (1,204,403) fled to Poland, while others went to Hungary (191,348), Slovakia (140,745), the Russian Fedeartion (99,300), Moldova (82,762), Romania (82,062), Belarus (453), and other European counties (210,239). On March 1, the United NationsOffice for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued a funding appeal for $1.7 billion in support of humanitarian relief efforts for people in Ukraine and refugees in neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, numerous NGOs are working on the ground in Ukraine and in the region to address the humanitarian needs of those affected by the Russian invasion. Needs range from medical supplies, food, water, hygiene kits, and psychosocial support to mental health assistance for children and families fleeing the region.

Here we highlight just some of the organizations directly assisting  and/or supporting efforts to assist internally displaced Ukrainians and refugees and the communities hosting them.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The New York City-based American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has operated in Ukraine for three decades and supports nearly 40,000 low-income Jewish people in 1,000 locations across the country. Through its emergency hotlines, volunteer corps, and network of social service centers, the organization provides essentials such as food and medicine. JDC also is preparing to respond to mass displacement and deploy psychosocial support and increased aid to the most vulnerable. JDC has received grants from funders including Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and the Jewish Federations of North America.

American Red Cross

According to the American Red Cross headquartered in Washington, D.C., as of March 6, 2022, Red Cross teams have distributed more than 90,000 food and hygiene parcels to families on the move across Ukraine, including Mariupol; provided first aid training to more than 12,000 people in metro stations and bomb shelters; delivered more than 32 tons of food, blankets, medicine, medical supplies, trauma kits, and household items; assisted with the evacuation of people with disabilities; and distributed critical care items to more than 7,000 people seeking safety in bomb shelters from shelling. The American Red Cross also has deployed crisis responders to provide humanitarian relief in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Lithuania, and Russia, where Red Cross volunteers are supporting displaced people. ARC has received grants from funders including Bank of America, Key Bank, and Wells Fargo.

“The escalating conflict in Ukraine is taking a devastating toll,” said International Committee of the Red Cross director general Robert Mardini in a statement. “Casualty figures keep rising while health facilities struggle to cope. We already see long-term disruptions in regular water and electricity supplies. People calling our hotline in Ukraine are desperately in need of food and shelter.”

Americares

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, Americares has worked in Eastern Europe for decades, delivering $120 million in medicine and supplies to Ukraine to date. To help provide health services for Ukrainian families affected by the current humanitarian crisis, the organization has sent an emergency response team of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals to Krakow, Poland. The organization will deliver medicine, medical supplies, emergency funding, and relief items to the region and provide primary care services, emergency treatment for injuries, and mental health and psychosocial support services to help survivors cope with stress and trauma. Americares has received commitments from Boeing and United Airlines, among others.

CARE

Atlanta-based CARE works to address global poverty—with an emphasis on empowering women—and deliver emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters. In Ukraine, the NGO is supporting local partner organizations to provide warm, safe spaces for refugees to rest at border crossings and to send food, sleeping bags, diapers, and other essentials into Ukraine. At the Ukrainian-Romanian border, CARE and its partner, SERA, are training 200 psychologists in emergency psychosocial support to help arriving refugees overcome the trauma of war and leaving their homes and also are supporting social services and child protection services at arrival points and on transit routes for the most vulnerable children. In addition, CARE has warned that “[f]or women who have been forced to flee their homes, who are far away from their usual support networks and usual means of income; exploitation—including sexual exploitation—is a real risk” and is calling for coordinated protection services to register and accompany those fleeing the conflict.

“One of the best ways to ensure a gender-sensitive humanitarian response is to fund women’s organizations in Ukraine, and other local organizations led by and serving specific groups, such as people with disabilities,” said CARE emergency media manager Ninja Taprogge in a statement. “These groups also need to be consulted as the international humanitarian response is planned, because their local knowledge, skills and networks are invaluable.”

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) in Washington, D.C., has created the CDP Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund, which will focus on addressing needs among the most vulnerable, marginalized, and at-risk internally displaced peoples, and refugees. The organization is in contact with and can award grants to Ukrainian and other international organizations that are not 501(c)3 entities. In addition, CDP has a list of suggestions for disaster giving by foundations.

“Although it will take a few days before we get a better understanding of the scale and extent of additional humanitarian needs from this rapid escalation and expansion of the conflict, we know that people forced from their homes need shelter, food, clean water and other basic necessities, particularly in the harsh winter climate,” the organization said on its website.

Direct Relief

Based in Santa Barbara, California, Direct Relief works to equip health professionals in resource-poor communities to meet the challenges of diagnosing and caring for people in need. As of March 3, 2022, Direct Relief—which has supported hospitals in Ukraine for years—has sent two shipments of medical aid to Poland for transport into Ukraine. The shipments include medicines and supplies requested by Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, such as medical oxygen concentrators, antibiotics, wound dressings, and respiratory medicine, as well as field medic packs. The organization anticipates a rapid expansion of medical relief to Ukraine in the near term, as dozens of medical manufacturers, including Eli Lilly and Co. and Merck, lend their support. FedEx is also working with Direct Relief to provide in-kind support of a charter flight containing medical aid.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with U.S. headquarters in New York City, has delivered a shipment of emergency medical supplies—including surgical kits, trauma kits, and basic necessities for intensive care units, emergency rooms, and surgical operating theaters—to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Kyiv. Experienced MSF emergency and specialist medical staff are currently entering Ukraine, with more scheduled to arrive to support teams already working on the ground. MSF teams are assessing medical humanitarian needs at the Polish-Ukrainian border as well as elsewhere in Poland. The organization is also assessing the needs of refugees in Hungary, with a focus on identifying less visible needs for particularly vulnerable people; in southeastern Moldova, with a focus on chronically ill patients or mental health needs; and in border areas in Slovakia. In addition, MSF has an established presence in southern Russia and in Belarus—with its tuberculosis and hepatitis C programs—where it is assessing whether new medical humanitarian needs have emerged.

Global Giving

Global Giving, based in Washington, D.C., works to facilitate donations to reliable, locally led disaster relief and recovery efforts around the world through its online giving platform. The organization has set up a Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund in support of humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled, including shelter, food, and clean water for refugees; health and psychosocial support; and access to education and economic assistance. As of March 7, the fund has raised $6.47 million toward its $10 million goal. Global Giving also provides a Ukrainian Crisis: Fast Facts page that provides historical context for the war and its impact on humanitarian challenges.

International Medical Corps

The International Medical Corps, based in Pasadena, California, is on the ground in Ukraine, has created a logistics and support hub in Poland, and is working with health agencies and local partners to provide primary and emergency health services; mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS); gender-based violence (GBV) response services and protection services for women, children, and other at-risk people who face risks during conflict; and medicines and medical supplies, including personal protection equipment, to help provide critical care and prevent infectious diseases like COVID-19 among refugees and displaced populations. The organization first delivered essential relief and medicines to Ukrainian healthcare facilities and trained local doctors and medical staff in 1999; since 2014, when the healthcare system in eastern Ukraine collapsed, it has been providing primary health care, MHPSS, GBV, and COVID-related services.

International Rescue Committee

The New York City-based International Rescue Committee (IRC), which helps those whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive and recover, is on the ground in Poland, working with local partners there and in Ukraine. The organization is providing critical information to some of the one million people who have arrived in Poland from Ukraine and are also procuring medical supplies and essential items such as sleeping bags and blankets for distribution at reception centers on the Ukrainian/Polish border. In addition, IRC is also working to quickly mobilize resources and connect with partners in Ukraine to establish a response that will provide life-saving support to civilians forced to flee their homes. The organization has received a grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is coordinating with local NGOs, hospitals, and government officials across Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, as well as the World Health Organization, Logistics Clusters, ministries of health, and other authorities. The organization’s immediate focus is on continuing to source and ship essential medicines and medical supplies for primary health and trauma care to affected areas, including hygiene kits, Interagency Emergency Health Kits, and insulin. In Poland, Project HOPE is procuring vital medical supplies to be delivered to a neonatal hospital in Kyiv, supporting an NGO in Kyiv in purchasing and transporting medicines and medical supplies to civilian hospitals, and assessing health needs in the Dnipro region, including for those who are internally displaced. In Moldova, the organization also is procuring and delivering critical medical supplies to the Ministry of Health to serve refugees. In addition, in Romania, Project HOPE is sourcing hygiene kits, medical supplies, and medicines for transport into Ukraine and for the refugee population.

“These refugees have no idea when they will be able to return home or what home they will return to. Many of them only have the few belongings they could grab before fleeing,” said Project HOPE’s Vlatko Uzevski in a statement. Within these waves of refugees are untold thousands who are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or managing serious medical conditions. The doctors and medicines they rely on are gone. There were already three million people in Ukraine in need of humanitarian assistance before this invasion. They are the ones who will bear the brunt of this war.”

Project Kesher

Based in New York, Project Kesher works to build the Jewish community and advance civil society by developing and empowering women leaders. Their work in Ukraine is to mobilize globally to support Ukrainian women and families. Project Kesher Ukraine staff are currently on the ground, either sheltering in place or traveling in search of safety. At the same time, Project Kesher activists are crossing into border countries in Europe, many with children and elderly family members, while those in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel are fielding requests from Ukrainian women for help with evacuation, support at the border, immigrating to Israel, and accessing emergency support services. The organization is in daily contact with Jewish relief efforts on the ground and in Europe.

Razom

New York-based Razom works to foster Ukrainian democracy and civil society through a global network of experts and organizations supporting democracy activists and human rights advocates across Ukraine. Razom’s emergency response to the crisis is focused on purchasing medical supplies for critical situations like blood loss and other tactical medicine items through an extensive procurement team of volunteers that tracks down and purchases supplies, and a logistics team that then gets them to Ukraine. Razom also is coordinating with several partner organizations worldwide, including Nova Ukraine, United Help Ukraine, Revived Soldiers Ukraine, Sunflower for Peace, and Euromaidan-Warszawa; working with governments and embassies on establishing humanitarian corridors; and arranging for warehouses and points of delivery in Poland and Ukraine. Donated funds will be used to purchase tourniquets, bandages, combat gauzes, sterile pads, and satellite phones.

Save the Children

Connecticut-based Save the Children is supporting humanitarian programs aiming to reach 3.5 million children and their families with immediate aid and recovery through its Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, which will provide children and families with immediate aid such as food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance. Save the Children is on the ground in Romania, working with migrants and asylum seekers in five reception centers. Teams are currently conducting a needs assessment in four refugee camps in northeastern Romania and preparing to distribute essential items and set up spaces where children have a safe place to play, learn, and cope with grief and loss; it is also urgently assessing needs in Poland and Lithuania. In addition, Save the Children is calling on neighboring countries to provide access to asylum, protection, and assistance to all people fleeing Ukraine, regardless of their nationality or visa status.

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

California-based Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights partners with women’s movements worldwide to support women’s human rights defenders striving to create cultures of justice, equality, and peace. In response to the crisis in Ukraine, the fund supports women, trans, and nonbinary activists on the ground in Ukraine and the surrounding region by providing flexible funding and security support. To that end, the organization is responding to requests from groups and individuals seeking help with emergency evacuations and relocations; legal, financial, and medical support; security and disaster survival training; increasing shelter capacities for children, women, and all other civilians; and access to alternative communication channels, mobile internet, power banks, VPNs, proxy, spare phones, and tablets.

World Central Kitchen

Founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen (WCK), based in Washington, D.C., provides meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises while building resilient food systems with locally led solutions. WCK is on the ground in Ukraine and nearby countries, serving thousands of fresh meals to Ukrainian families fleeing home and those who remain in the country. Within hours of the initial invasion, WCK began working at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland and now feeds families at eight border crossings across the country. In addition, WCK supports local restaurants preparing meals in eight Ukrainian cities, including Odessa, Lviv, and Kyiv. WCK teams are also on the ground in Romania, Moldova, and Hungary and plan to assist in Slovakia. Andrés ,who last year was awarded a $100 million “courage and civility award” from Jeff Bezos for his humanitarian work, has said via Twitter that he will commit support from that award to Ukraine.

“It’s hard to know that, even in this moment, there are mainly women with children walking for hours out of Ukraine to safety, to different countries,” said Andrés s in a recorded message. “Every country is welcoming them, and every country is doing their best, but it’s hard to know there are people walking in the streets or spending the night in a car with no gas, with no way to heat themselves.”

The majority of these organizations has earned a Candid Seal of Transparency at the Platinum, Gold, or Silver level.

A Candid Seal of Transparency indicates that an organization has shared publicly information that enables informed funding decisions. Depending on the level (Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum), requirements include information about its mission, grantmaker status, donations, and leadership, programs, brand details, audited financial report or basic financial information, board demographics, strategic plan or strategy and goal highlights, and at least one metric demonstrating progress and results. Learn more about how nonprofits can earn a Seal of Transparency. https://guidestar.candid.org/profile-best-practices/

Find more articles in Philanthropy News Digest about  philanthropy’s response to the war in Ukraine.

Find more updates and resources on Candids special issue page on the philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Joel Carillet)

Lauren Brathwaite is content editor and Kyoko Uchida is features editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

 

‘Trust is critical in a gender-responsive approach’: A Q&A with Mary Marx, President and CEO, Pace Center for Girls

January 27, 2022

Headshot_Mary Marx_Pace_Center_for_GirlsFounded in 1985 in Jacksonville, Florida, Pace Center for Girls works to provide girls and young women who are experiencing challenges in their home or school environment with opportunities for a better future through education, counseling, training, and advocacy. Today the organization’s twenty-two locations in Florida and Georgia provide more than three thousand girls with academic instruction, life skills, coaching, and counseling to help them face their past and prepare for their future. In addition, over the past decade, Pace’s public policy advocacy work has helped reduce the number of girls who are referred to Florida’s juvenile justice system by more than 60 percent.

Mary Marx joined Pace as vice president of external affairs in 2007 and has served as president and CEO since 2010. PND asked her about Pace’s advocacy efforts around juvenile justice reform, its national expansion strategy, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on needs and programs.

Philanthropy News Digest: What does the “gender-responsive” framework that Pace Center for Girls uses in its academic and social services entail, in concrete terms?

Mary Marx: I’d like to start by explaining why we’re using the gender-responsive framework and why it’s one of Pace’s foundational pillars. Pace Center for Girls was founded because a growing number of girls were entering Florida’s juvenile justice system, largely driven by experiences of trauma and the impact that trauma had on their behavior and physical, emotional, and mental health. Trauma places girls at significant risk for poor life outcomes, including dropping out of school, poor physical and mental health, long-term economic dependency, and involvement in human trafficking or the delinquency or dependency systems.

In 1985, there was no research on girls and delinquency, so our approach intuitively was centered on girls’ unique needs. Then, as the research findings came to light, we were able to validate that the gender-responsive model was the correct approach. Of course, then the question becomes, “What does that mean? What is a gender-responsive approach?” First, it means that you create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for girls. For example, each Pace center has an enrollment of about sixty to eighty girls, by design. Rather than attending a school with three thousand students, you’re getting more individualized attention at Pace and access to wraparound services such as counseling, leadership skills development, and workforce training.

A gender-responsive model also entails that we take a holistic approach when we look at someone’s treatment strategies. This means taking into account all areas of development, such as physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional health. Another really important facet of a gender-responsive approach is that it’s relationship-based; meaningful connections fuel healthy development, and that is particularly important for young people who may have experienced abuse or neglect early in life. Healthy relationships are modeled by the staff and include helping girls develop healthy peer-to-peer relationships. We do a lot of peer mediation, peer mentoring, and group work so the girls are developing healthy relationships among themselves and with staff.

Another facet of the gender-responsive model is taking a strength-based approach, meaning that we focus on the strengths of each girl rather than her shortcomings. This also has to be based in health. At Pace, each girl has her own counselor, whom she can see at any time. There’s a minimum requirement that each girl be seen at least twice a month, but most, especially when they come to us in the beginning, are seen almost every day. In terms of physical health, we have our own health clinic in the Pace Center. We also have a relationship with the county department of health, where we take the girls for wellness checks, as oftentimes trauma is written on the body, for example, in the form of self-harming and eating disorders.

Trust is critical in a gender-responsive approach, as is ensuring that each girl has choice and control. One of the most important facets of our model is that we’re a voluntary program; no one is court-ordered to be here, and girls can leave of their own volition. That’s a really important piece, because they haven’t had mastery or control over their lives for a long period of time. We are very collaborative in how we make decisions with them and share power with them. And finally, we consistently prioritize empowerment and skill building for our girls....

Read the full Q&A with Mary Marx.

The top ten philanthropy stories of 2021

December 28, 2021

Calendar_pages_GettyImages-93870456_grublee

For our final newsletter (subscribe here for our newsletters and alerts) of 2021, the editors at Philanthropy News Digest shared (in chronological order) the ten stories that we felt were particularly significant for philanthropy — both in the moment and for the future. We aimed to include stories that addressed major areas of philanthropic interest this year: climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, education, racial equity, and social justice to name a few.

 

Perhaps the most noticeable omission from the list is the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, which we decided had not yet led to visible changes in the foundation’s grantmaking, although changes are expected in its governance structure.

 

What other social sector news resonated most with you in 2021? Please share your thoughts about our list on Twitter — tag us @pndblog — or leave a comment below.

Thank you for making PND a part of your important work on the vital issues of our time. We hope you all have a safe, healthy, and joyful end of the year and enter 2022 filled with hope.

— Matt Sinclair

 

DAFs may have cost charities $300 billion over five years, study finds

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The report from the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good found that the share of individual giving going to charities fell from 94.1 percent before the advent of donor-advised funds to less than 75 percent between 2014 and 2018, with an estimated $300 billion that otherwise might have gone to charities going into DAFs and foundations....



Asian American Foundation raises nearly $1.1 billion

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Established with initial commitments totaling $125 million from founding board members, the foundation has raised more than $900 million from foundations, corporations, and individuals in support of efforts to address a longstanding lack of investment in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and combat anti-AAPI violence....



Marguerite Casey calls for funding police and criminal justice reform

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Launched on the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, Answering the Uprising: Closing the Say/Do Gap in Philanthropy is aimed at "correcting" the inadequate response of philanthropy to the racial justice uprisings in 2020....




MacKenzie Scott awards grants totaling nearly $2.74 billion

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Grants were awarded to nearly three hundred "high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked"....





Rockefeller, IKEA foundations launch $1 billion clean energy platform

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With the aim of reducing a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and providing a billion people with distributed renewable energy through mini-grid and off-grid solutions, the initiative will be run as a public charity designed to deploy catalytic capital more efficiently and at scale that supports the expansion of local renewable energy projects....



Nearly $40 billion pledged to accelerate gender equality by 2026

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Commitments announced at the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women included $21 billion from governments and public-sector institutions, $13 billion from the private sector, $1.3 billion from UN entities and multilateral organizations, and $4.5 billion from philanthropy....




Philanthropies pledge $5 billion to 'Protecting Our Planet Challenge'

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The commitments from nine philanthropies will fund efforts to meet the 30x30 goal to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030 in partnership with Indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society, and governments....




Powell Jobs to invest $3.5 billion in climate action over ten years

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According to an Emerson Collective official, the Waverley Street Foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change" and sunset after ten years....




GivingTuesday 2021 raises an estimated $2.7 billion in the U.S.

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The GivingTuesday Data Commons estimates that giving totals increased 9 percent from $2.47 billion in 2020, with thirty-five million adults in the U.S. participating, a 6 percent increase over last year....





Bloomberg Philanthropies commits $750 million for charter schools

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The five-year initiative is aimed at closing student achievement gaps — which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for students from lower-income families — and creating an additional hundred and fifty thousand seats at high-quality charter schools in twenty metro areas....

Improving higher education outcomes for single mothers: A commentary by Jennifer Zeisler

December 22, 2021

Mother_college_grad_son_GettyImages_SDI ProductionsInvesting in higher education for single mothers to transform the U.S. economy

Before it’s too late, we must address a critical gap in this country’s economic recovery strategy: help for single mothers in college. These determined mothers understand the connection between their education and their families’ long-term financial security, and they have proven that they are ready and willing to take on the work that will fuel our future. It’s time for the philanthropic sector to follow their lead.

Over the last five years, ECMC Foundation has funded efforts to improve educational outcomes for single mothers, who represent more than one in ten undergraduates in the United States. We have learned that with a bit of additional support, single mothers can help drive equitable economic growth. As the only national foundation focused on the college success of single mothers, we have also learned that too few funders are making this type of sound investment. Women of color, who disproportionately pursue degrees while parenting, bear the brunt of this lack of investment. To achieve gender and racial equity in the years to come, more funders must commit to ensuring that single mothers have access to the education they want and need.

As we know from the economic recovery from the Great Recession, many jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage require educational attainment beyond high school. Single mothers are distinctly aware of the economic calculus of enrolling in college: Nearly half attend community colleges, where they pursue degrees in health care, information technology, and other middle-skill sectors that have the potential to fuel the country’s economic engine. They know that earning a college degree pays off, and they are right: Single mothers with an associate’s degree are nearly half as likely to live in poverty as those with a high school diploma.

But as the pandemic has made painfully obvious, it is difficult for parents, especially mothers, to work without access to child care. This is especially true for single-mother students, who must balance care, work, and school — and was true long before the pandemic. Facing high poverty rates and having limited time to devote to their studies due to work and family demands, fewer than 10 percent of single-mother students graduate on time....

Read the full commentary by Jennifer Zeisler, senior program director for career readiness at ECMC Foundation.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SDI Productions)

Centering Black women and their lived experiences: A commentary by Stacey D. Stewart

December 09, 2021

Mother_with_baby_doctor_hospital_getty_imagesWant to advance racial equity? Prioritize the needs of Black women

This year, as we turn to philanthropic giving and think about how we can better invest in our communities, it is crucial that we center Black women and their lived experiences.

Black women have always been at the heart of the fight to repair centuries of disinvestment, neglect, systemic racism, and social injustice, but our communities and organizations are continually underfunded and under-supported. This means that Black women and Black communities often have to fight simply to be heard.

The lack of investment and understanding of culturally appropriate care translates to real-life health disparities: For example, Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from pregnancy compared with white women. The lasting legacy of systemic racism still plagues our country — and it continues to disproportionately affect Black women in many ways. According to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 74 percent of Black mothers serve as the breadwinners in their household. This has a cascading effect on Black families — meaning fewer groceries in the kitchen, smaller family savings, and less money, if any, to set aside for child care or future investments in higher education.

As the president and CEO of March of Dimes, a Black woman, and a mother to two daughters, I am deeply invested in ensuring that mothers and children are happy and healthy and receive the care they need. It’s also very personal for me. Growing up as the child of a Black physician, I witnessed early on how health inequities influence the health outcomes of Black mothers and children. Our healthcare system has failed Black Americans for centuries, and our communities deserve better. I am proud to lead this organization with its rich, eighty-year history of ideating and innovating to better serve and uplift all families, regardless of wealth, race, gender, or geography....

Read the full commentary by Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'The world must not turn its back': A commentary by John Canady

September 30, 2021

Girls_school_Afghanistan_USAID_viaPixnio_ccThree ways funders can protect Afghan girls' rights and access to education:

In 2012, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she defended girls' rights to an education.

Malala Yousafzai's story shocked the world and became a catalyst for the international efforts to increase educational opportunities for girls in developing countries or living under oppressive regimes.

Nine years on, as the world has watched the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan with horror and despair, girls' education — one of the country's greatest successes over the last twenty years — is now in grave danger.

A recent announcement by the Taliban Education Ministry confirmed those fears when it effectively banned girls from secondary education by stating that "all male teachers and students should attend their education institutions," leaving the issue of female education unaddressed — and girls at home.

Global attention understandably has been focused on the plight of many Afghan nationals and U.S. citizens desperately trying to leave the country. The distressing images of helpless parents passing their babies over the perimeter of Kabul International Airport to beleaguered U.S. soldiers are heart-wrenching. But we must not forget the urgent needs of those left behind, especially women and girls....

Read the full commentary by John Canady, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust UK.

(Photo credit: USAID via Pixnio)

'Toward sharing, ceding, and building political, economic, social, and cultural power': A Q&A with Cheryl Dorsey

August 18, 2021

Headshot_Echoing-Green-Cheryl-L-DorseyCheryl Dorsey has served as president of Echoing Green since 2002, after having received an Echoing Green Fellowship a decade earlier to help launch the Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit in Boston. In the interim, she served as a White House fellow and special assistant to the U.S. secretary of labor (1997-98) and as special assistant to the director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Labor Department (1998-99). More recently, she served as vice chair for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (2009-17).

PND asked Dorsey about efforts to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, changes in philanthropic practice to advance racial equity, and Echoing Green's ongoing work to create a support network for social entrepreneurs of color working to create a more just, sustainable, and equitable future for all. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: Since the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted myriad structural inequities — for example, the impact on essential workers, who are disproportionately people of color and who also have limited access to health care — and the police killing of George Floyd ignited demonstrations calling for racial justice nationwide, the philanthropic sector has had to reckon with the role that many foundations have played in helping to perpetuate an inequitable system. As a woman of color leading a grantmaking public charity, how do you assess philanthropy's efforts at self-examination?

Cheryl Dorsey: [...] The ongoing global pandemic and moment of racial reckoning have certainly challenged philanthropy to reform old ways of working. There have been important and positive signs of momentum. Last year, more than eight hundred organizations signed a Council on Foundations pledge to eliminate burdens in grantmaking by implementing flexible and unrestricted models of giving. And more than four hundred funders have signed the Groundswell Fund open letter, authored by people of color-led public foundations, calling on funders to direct resources to grassroots racial justice movements and organizations. However, changes in funding behavior and capital flows are happening much too slowly. Though philanthropy deployed a record-breaking amount in funds after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these funds failed to reach the communities of color most affected by the pandemic at a critical time. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Candid found that only 23 percent of dollars distributed in 2020 were explicitly designated for persons and communities of color globally. This number drops down to 13 percent when looking specifically at institutional philanthropy.

To ensure that this momentum of change is sustained, there must be a fundamental transformation of philanthropic norms and practices toward sharing, ceding, and building political, economic, social, and cultural power for racial equity leaders and communities of color. As we think about meeting this moment, we are witnessing retrenchment and backlash from inequitable systems including declining support for the Black Lives Matter movement and mounting restrictions on Black voting rights. The enduring assaults on our collective liberation require urgent action and staying on course, but they also require accountability and forward-thinking. What are the structures and systems we can put in place now to ensure that we remain resilient when met with the inevitable backlash?...

Read the full Q&A with Cheryl Dorsey.

Impact investing in the 'creative economy' to strengthen local economies: A commentary by Deb Parsons

August 10, 2021

Fabric_bolts_arts_creative_GettyImages_oksixImpacting the creative economy with philanthropic funds

What do film and fashion have to do with philanthropy?

For a growing number of impact investors, these industries and others that make up the "creative economy" are a powerful lever to strengthen local economies, build resilient communities, and support an equitable COVID-19 recovery. Increasingly, impact investors are using foundations and donor-advised funds to make investments in a variety of local, national, and even international creative economy enterprises that are driving positive social and environmental change. With its focus on solutions that prioritize people and the planet, impact investing complements traditional grantmaking by leveraging the power of markets to create positive change....

Read the full commentary by Deb Parsons, managing director at ImpactAssets.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'Now is the time for philanthropy to support today's brave movements for justice': A commentary by Jesenia A. Santana

July 28, 2021

Black Lives Matter Phoenix MetroToday's racial justice movements need protection — and funders must respond

Like so many others across the country, members of Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro have organized and participated in numerous protests and public calls for racial justice in the past year. Their activism has kept a powerful spotlight on the harms and trauma caused by white supremacy and the need for healing and liberation for Black communities and other oppressed people. But that work has come at a great cost to the safety and security of people and organizations on the front lines.[...]

Across the country, activists and movement leaders are facing heightened levels of risk, trauma, and violence simply for speaking out for our collective rights and standing up for Black lives and communities of color. If it is not trumped-up charges and police violence, it is vicious harassment delivered both digitally and physically by people and groups spewing racism and hate. The problem has only gotten worse since the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Now is the time for philanthropy to support today's brave movements for justice....

Read the full commentary by Jesenia A. Santana, senior resource strategist at Solidaire Network.

'We understood what it meant to be silenced, afraid, and vulnerable': A Q&A with Mónica Ramírez

July 26, 2021

Headshot_Monica Ramirez_Justice_for_Migrant_WomenMónica Ramírez is an organizer, attorney, social entrepreneur, and founder and president of Justice for Migrant Women, whose work includes policy advocacy, civic and political engagement, public awareness and education campaigns, narrative shift initiatives, and multi-sector and multi-ethnic power-building collaborations. For two decades she has worked to protect the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, Latinos/as, and immigrants and to eliminate gender-based violence and secure gender equity, launching Esperanza: The Immigrant Women's Legal Initiative at the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2003. Ramírez also is co-founder of the Latinx House and Alianza Nacional de Campesinos, where she served as board president until 2018.

In our latest '5 Questions for...' feature, PND spoke with Ramírez about the intersectionality of women's, farmworkers', and immigrants' rights; the impact of COVID-19 on farmworkers; and the Healing Voices program. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: You're credited with helping to galvanize the TIME'S UP movement against sexual harassment by publishing the "Dear Sisters" letter on behalf of farmworker women, addressed to women in the entertainment industry. What factors put migrant farmworkers at particularly high risk of sexual harassment, in both similar and disparate ways from women in Hollywood?

Mónica Ramírez: Women of color have historically been left out of the narratives featured in TV shows or movies, much less given the opportunities to feel safe and comfortable enough to bring to light their traumas and seek justice — and the same can be said for farmworker and migrant women. Most people don't realize that migrant women suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace at the hands of supervisors, recruiters, co-workers, and others. They are more vulnerable, as they're employed in small workplaces like private homes and small farms, sometimes with fewer than fifteen workers. And as these women are not covered by existing federal anti-sexual harassment law, they're particularly vulnerable to harm without any recourse to seek justice. To make matters worse, many are afraid to speak out about any incidents of sexual harassment that take place due to fear of deportation, being fired, or having their hard-earned wages taken away....We understood what it meant to be silenced, afraid, and vulnerable....

Read the full Q&A with Mónica Ramírez.

5 Questions For…Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative

July 08, 2021

Linda Goler Blount joined the Black Women's Health Imperative, the first nonprofit organization created by Black women to help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls, as president and CEO in February 2014.

Since then, Goler Blount has overseen investments totaling more than $20 million in Black women's health and research. She is responsible for moving the organization forward in its mission to achieve health equity and reproductive justice for Black women. BWHI recently announced that it received a $400,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to improve vaccination rates among Black women and communities of color. The grant, part of the foundation's $20 million Equity-First Vaccination Initiative, supports hyper-local, community-led programs working to improve vaccine access and support educational outreach in five cities. BWHI will convene a Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness & Equity Task Force to provide high-impact advocacy recommendations to boost COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The task force will include the leaders of National Caucus & Center on Black Aging and National Coalition of 100 Black Women, policymakers, disparities experts, and community organizations.

Before joining the Black Women's Health Imperative, Goler Blount served as the vice president of programmatic impact for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, where she led the effort to eliminate inequalities in health, income, education, and housing through place- and population-based work. She was also the first national vice president of health disparities at the American Cancer Society, in which role she provided strategic vision and leadership for reducing cancer incidence and mortality among underserved populations and developed a nationwide health equity policy.

PND asked Goler Blount about the ways in which Black women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness & Equity Task Force, and how to address the racial disparity in maternal mortality rates.

Headshot_Linda Goler Blount_Black Womens Health ImperativePhilanthropy News Digest: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Black Americans are 2.9 times as likely as white Americans to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1.9 times as likely to die. In what ways have Black women in particular been disproportionately impacted since the pandemic began and what needs to be done to address this disparity?

Linda Goler Blount: The heavy toll of COVID-19 on Black America is sharpened for Black women, who live at the intersection of gendered and racialized oppression and are experiencing disastrous impacts on their health, economic stability, and social well-being. Black women are impacted disproportionately by underlying health conditions linked to severe COVID-19 cases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, the high incidence of which serves as a consequence of America's long history of structural racism and gender oppression. The confluence of the gender pay gap and the racial wealth gap have made economic instability a harsh reality for Black women.

In addition, the physical health impacts of COVID-19 are clear, and the psychological stress of the pandemic is certain to have long-term effects on Black women's mental health as well. Perhaps most frustrating, though, is that the same structural racism that produces disease in Black communities is also creating barriers to treatment, care, and comfort — and worsening existing health crises. To address the physical health impacts on Black women, we need policy makers to ensure access to adequate and affordable health insurance, invest in initiatives that address systemic racism within health care; and expand Medicaid coverage in all states.

The economic fallout of COVID-19 extends beyond what many of us could have ever imagined, with 60 percent of Black households reporting severe financial problems and Black women maintaining the second-highest rate of unemployment during the pandemic. Policy makers should implement universal paid sick leave and expand eligibility for family and medical leave, raise the federal minimum wage, establish an independent equity committee to review and revise the eligibility criteria for economic relief programs, and develop a long-term funding strategy to support and increase businesses owned and operated by Black women. It is apparent that the social impacts of COVID-19 and racial injustice are wide-reaching and closely intertwined with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and racial crisis — all of which affect Black women's quality of life. We believe lawmakers should address those impacts by extending the federal eviction moratorium and canceling debts, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and expanding quality broadband access across the country, with investments in low-income and rural communities to provide resources for quality distance learning and training.

PND: Black Americans report lower levels of trust in the healthcare system as a result of outright abuses like the Tuskegee study and day-to-day discrimination experienced when visiting healthcare facilities. What are some approaches you believe can work to restore trust in the healthcare system?

LGB: Vaccines save lives, but too many Black Americans have vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is well placed and often rooted in mistrust of the medical establishment and doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. But I would tell those reluctant to be vaccinated that millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in history. COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective. If too many Black Americans put off vaccinations, achieving widespread immunity in this country will be increasingly challenging.

A reassuring aspect the public should be educated about is the vaccine was developed by a Black doctor, vetted by Black physicians, and clinically tested on Black trial participants during the research and development phase. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett stands at the heart of Moderna's vaccine development, and her research was applied to the development of a coronavirus vaccine now distributed around the world.

One thing needed to make this happen is trust — for predominantly white institutions to trust Black physicians and Black researchers to implement the cultural approaches they know will work with Black communities. That is going to mean giving time and resources to those Black institutions and doctors and healthcare providers, so they can go into Black communities and engage in strategies that are going to be really effective. There is also a need for strategic messaging tailored to Black Americans. Because Black communities must seek COVID-19 vaccinations, there is a need to double down on healthcare providers' critical role as trusted messengers in overcoming vaccine hesitancy.

PND: The goal of the Rockefeller Foundation's $20 million Equity-First Vaccination Initiative is to ensure that at least seventy million people of color are vaccinated by July. How will BWHI's Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness & Equity Task Force's work assist in reaching that goal?

LGB: Raising awareness about the COVID-19 vaccine in communities of color and advocating for its equitable distribution is a key 2021 priority for BWHI. Accurate, culturally sensitive information provides Black women with the background and knowledge to advocate for equitable and affordable access to this critical lifesaving vaccine during these uniquely challenging times. To that end, the BWHI Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness & Equity Task Force will provide high-impact advocacy recommendations for community-based tools, resources, and grassroots implementation activities for COVID-19 vaccine education and uptake. This will include CEO leadership of its strategic project partners, as well as a diverse group of leaders, policy makers, disparities experts, and community advocates who will coordinate and consult on COVID-19 community engagements, strategic initiatives, and resources. To close gaps, BWHI will form strategic partnerships with National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc. (NCBA) and National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW) to deploy COVID-19 vaccine and equity initiatives among Black women in five U.S. cities: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Oakland, CA; and Newark, NJ.  BWHI will also collaborate with several community organizations to encourage vaccinations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Global Policy Initiative (SCL GPI), R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions, New Jersey Department of Health, and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA). Now more than ever, it is critical to arm Black women, who are the vital arbiters of healthcare decisions for their families and communities, with culturally relevant and accurate information that they can act upon to reduce the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color.

PND: BWHI is the first nonprofit organization created by Black women to help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls. After thirty-eight years, are the challenges today the same as when the organization began? What's changed?

LGB: Ironically, the biggest challenge today is the same as when the organization began thirty-eight years ago. Black women's most significant health issue is the system, as it was four decades ago. Deep-seated structural and systematic racism are not just obstacles to addressing Black women's health issues — they are the health issue. What underlies Black women's disproportionate myriad health issues and disparities is the country's long history of structural and systemic racism within social, commercial, and government systems that disadvantage Black Americans. They can be seen through inequities in socioeconomic status, segregated communities, and even how Black women's pain and conditions are disbelieved and dismissed by the medical community. Standard medical practice continues to fail to consider the unique challenges Black women face.

Today, however, there is greater recognition. The CDC declared racism a public health emergency by observing structural inequities that have resulted in stark racial and ethnic health disparities that are severe, far-reaching, and unacceptable. More than twenty cities and counties and at least three states — Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin — have also declared racism a public health crisis. There is a greater understanding among the medical establishment that Black women are made less healthy by medical racism and biases held by healthcare workers against people of color in their care. Even though the principal challenge remains the same, with the right tools, resilience is possible. BWHI will continue to advocate for advances in health equity and social justice for Black women, across their lifespan, through policy, advocacy, education, research, and leadership development. Since our founding, we have strived to identify the most pressing health issues that affect the nation's twenty-two million Black women and girls and invested in the best strategies and organizations that accomplish these goals and will continue to do so in the future.

PND: Since a maternal mortality checkbox was added to death certificates in all fifty states, the U.S. has better maternal mortality data and we now know that Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and to suffer from severe disability resulting from childbirth than white women. What are some of the policies lawmakers should enact that would improve maternal health outcomes for Black women?

LGB: To address maternal health outcomes in Black women, BWHI calls for policy solutions to help us understand why this occurs, through the data and further conversation with Black women, and then fight for change. Our goal is to understand more clearly how racism, bias, and disrespectful care contribute to this tragedy and create a call to action to transform clinical practice and improve healthcare outcomes.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 is legislation pending in Congress designed to improve maternal health, especially for Black women most impacted by pregnancy complications. It comprises twelve individual bills that will address issues such as maternal mental health, social determinants of health, and COVID-19 risks for pregnant and postpartum women. It is an important first step toward addressing disparities in maternal mental health care and ensuring that all pregnant, birthing, and postpartum Black women have access to the health care they need. BWHI is also calling for policies that emphasize data collection, including a deeper analysis of data on the lived experiences of pregnant Black women. That data would inform a strategy to examine the underlying causes of poor maternal outcomes among Black women and to develop and implement strategies for policy, practice, and delivery systems to move the needle.

— Lauren Brathwaite

Funding criminal justice reform in Latin America: Investing in affected communities

June 15, 2021

Casa de las Muñecas_PhilanTopicThere is always a glass-half-full aspect to grantmaking: While we are proud of what our grants have helped accomplish, we recognize that we can always do better. Looking back on the past decade of grantmaking by the Open Society Foundations' Human Rights Initiative in support of criminal justice reform, we can draw critical lessons from both our successes and our failures.

We would like to share some lessons learned from our work funding communities affected by over-policing, mass incarceration, and state violence in Latin America.

A bedrock principle for us is that affected communities are the most capable drivers of long-term, sustainable change, and funders need to prioritize providing them with direct support.

There are four fundamental reasons why donors funding criminal justice reform should support leaders of the movement who are directly impacted by the system:

1. Investing in collective organizing and leadership provides affected communities with resources to build their power. It enables them to shape a narrative on public safety that highlights the stories of the victims and exposes the root causes of violence and harm such as social, economic, and racial injustices — and the way the criminal justice system is designed to criminalize and discriminate against marginalized communities. Funding their leaders also empowers affected communities to develop solutions to problems that directly impact them, and funding is critical to effectively challenging structural inequality and injustice through a bottom-up, rather than top-down, approach.

2. Investing in affected communities contributes to a more representative, diverse, and inclusive criminal justice movement that nurtures new and emerging leaders. In Brazil, for example, white — and often elite — legal and policy advocacy groups tend to dominate the criminal justice field — but this is changing. More Black activists and Black-led organizations such as the newly formed Black Coalition for Rights, are leading advocacy on criminal justice reform and placing racial justice squarely on the agenda of the broader movement, and more donors are funding racial justice work in the country. In Mexico, the trans-led NGO Casa de las Muñecas is introducing new perspectives in the criminal justice debate regarding discrimination against trans women, which other organizations in this space have not prioritized. Building the leadership of affected communities has a knock-on effect on mainstream organizations as well, motivating them to recruit staff and board members from these communities, diversifying their membership.

3. The strong connection between directly impacted people and their families, neighbors, and/or people with similar experiences gives those leaders and organizations legitimacy in the eyes of their communities and the public. They therefore have a greater capacity to mobilize and galvanize people around their demands. In the United States, as a result of the shift in the profile of its leadership to include more people from impacted communities, the criminal justice movement has pushed new and more radical ideas to the fore, such as "prison abolition" and "defunding the police," and is placing greater emphasis on initiatives dealing with violence prevention, community reinvestments, and reentry. In Latin America, a nascent network of formerly incarcerated women (including Red de Acciones por la Justicia in Mexico, Mujeres Libres in Colombia, and Amparar in Brazil), is developing an advocacy platform to promote transformative justice across the region, a topic that traditional criminal justice organizations, which have been more focused on technical legislative reforms, have not prioritized.

4. While directly impacted individuals are arguably the most capable and effective leaders of the criminal justice movement, they are also the most in need of and the least able to access resources. Groups and movements led by affected communities are typically under-funded and conduct most of their work on a volunteer basis. They lack the vital resources required for organizational and professional development (e.g., fundraising, advocacy) and end up giving their time and energy free of charge, despite precarious living conditions, such as insecure housing, lack of access to basic services (health care, education, etc.), and the stigma that comes with having spent time behind bars or the trauma of having lost a family member to state violence.

Donors have an important role to play in supporting affected communities' efforts to organize, strategize, and develop their own solutions to problems of which they have an intimate knowledge.

Here are four lessons we'd like to share from our experience in Latin America:

1. Funding affected communities requires grantmaking that is flexible, long-term, and premised on trust. Keep in mind that while grantees will choose the path that works best for them, it may take time to figure this out, and results may not be immediately tangible. There may be an advocacy win down the road, but the organizing, strategizing, and mobilizing necessary to make it happen could take years. Results need to be measured against movement-building milestones such as agenda setting, increased visibility of advocates and positions, stronger networks/development of new organizations, and law and policy reform).  

2. Affected communities should make their own decisions, but they need allies and assistance from well-established organizations that can offer respectful accompaniment and technical support. Allies (including donors) must perform a delicate balancing act: committing to nurturing the leadership of affected communities while knowing when to step back to let them make their own decisions.

3. We need to navigate movement dynamics carefully. Funding one set of affected leaders or organizations but not another may pit groups against each other. Donors need to understand alliances and rivalries and asses how best to support the movement as a whole. It is also important to recognize the tensions between movements. For instance, in Colombia, we cannot assume that solidarity is automatic between female coca growers in rural areas and women who use or sell drugs in urban settings, but they could rally around common goals such as the need for economic opportunities.

4. Some communities self-organize to defend their rights and interests but do not focus on criminal justice reform. For instance, while associations of sex workers, people who use drugs, or LGBTQI communities are victims of violence and criminalization, they tend not to operate in the criminal justice field. They could, however, be allies and help break silos between movements.

It's too early to demonstrate, in a quantifiable way, the impact of this strategic shift on policy and practice and people's lives. Yet, after a few years of funding affected communities in Latin America, we already see changes in the types of organizations and activists present in the criminal justice field across the region: They are more diverse, they have brought new voices and perspectives to the table, and they have given a sense of empowerment to disenfranchised communities. We hope the donor community embraces this approach and understands that systemic change requires a sustained and collaborative effort and a commitment to invest in building the infrastructure for movements that have historically lacked access to resources.

(Photo credit: Casa de las Muñecas)

Soheila Comninos_Nina_Madsen_PhilanTopic Soheila Comninos and Nina Madsen are program officers in the Open Society Foundations' Human Rights Initiative.

 

What COVID-19 has taught us about the humanitarian system and women's rights organizations

June 02, 2021

CFTA_feminist_humanitarian_networkWhen the COVID-19 pandemic struck — and with it came public health measures including stay-at-home orders — women's rights organizations (WROs) the world over were quick to sound the alarm: Gender-based violence (GBV) would increase. Women and "marginalized" groups would be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and the inequality they already face would deepen. The gendered impacts of crises are well documented, and COVID-19 would be no different.

WROs acted swiftly to address those issues, working to strengthen community-based mechanisms to ensure that women could report GBV and expect a response. Organizations adapted their systems and approaches to ensure that women could continue to access critical services during lockdowns, including psycho-social support, maternal and newborn child health care, and sexual and reproductive health services. WROs also advocated for recognition of the impacts of the crisis on women's rights and called for funding to be targeted to mitigating those impacts.

While responding to the pandemic and its fallout, WRO members of the Feminist Humanitarian Network (FHN), a collective of women leaders working together to transform the humanitarian system into one that is guided by feminist principles, saw an opportunity: Here was a moment to document the essential role WROs play in humanitarian action, to capture the work that they do, any time an emergency occurs, to ensure that women and "marginalized" groups aren't left out of relief efforts.

FHN member organizations — of which 70 percent are WROs working in the Global South and 30 percent are international non-government organizations (INGOs) and organizations based in the Global North — are working to achieve a global humanitarian system that is responsive, accountable, and accessible to women and the diverse organizations that serve them, and that challenges rather than perpetuates structural inequalities. A pervasive lack of recognition of WROs as humanitarian actors and leaders is just one of a number of critical issues that FHN is working to change.

The current humanitarian system and the actors it is comprised of (governments, United Nations agencies, INGOs, and national actors) systematically exclude women and their organizations from all phases of humanitarian action, from funding to decision making. WROs are rarely invited to contribute to national planning processes for humanitarian response or to sit on emergency committees. When a funding call is made, WROs rarely receive the information, and when they do, rarely succeed in their grant applications.

Needless to say, the impacts of this exclusion are enormous. Women's needs — and indeed, the needs of "marginalized" groups, such as people with disabilities, refugees, and the LGBTIQA community — go unaddressed as a result. WROs and women-led organizations, which often represent diverse groups of women and their communities, are uniquely positioned to highlight the needs of those they work with and ensure that they are addressed. When the leadership role of those organizations is undermined, basic requirements like including sanitary supplies in relief distributions and ensuring that distribution sites are accessible to people with disabilities are overlooked.

In addition to presenting an opportunity to showcase the role that WROs working at grassroots, local, and national levels play on the frontlines of humanitarian action, COVID-19 offered a snapshot of the global humanitarian system — how the current system works and the challenges it presents for WROs in the Global South — the patriarchal and colonial practices embedded in the system that are at the root of the lack of recognition, lack of access to resources, and exclusion that WROs experience.

And so FHN members in Bangladesh, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, and South Africa – conducted research to document their own humanitarian leadership, and that of their peers in the response to the pandemic. Their findings have been published in a series of national reports and a global report entitled Women's Humanitarian Voices: Covid-19 through a feminist lens. The reports highlight multiple critical barriers presented by the humanitarian system that undermine the leadership of WROs, and describe not only their ability to respond to crises but their long-term sustainability as essential women's rights actors working to protect and advance women's rights.

In six of the eight studies, WROs were unable to access donor funding, in large part as a result of excessive due diligence requirements that these organizations, working around the clock to respond to the emergency with limited resources, were (particularly in times of crisis) unable to fill. Instead, WROs undertaking critical work — ensuring that women with disabilities were able to meet basic needs throughout the crisis, for example — funded their efforts with their leaders' personal resources or funds contributed by the community. At the same time, women and their organizations were excluded from decision-making processes — left out of planning undertaken by international and national actors and from emergency response committees at all levels.

And yet those organizations persevered, working collectively in the "spirit of sisterhood" to challenge injustice, demand that their voices be heard, and work to influence the response efforts — and ensure that women's needs were addressed in each context. WROs continue to take action so that women are not left behind in the COVID-19 response and women's rights are advanced through humanitarian action.

For many of us working in the humanitarian sector, the pandemic has re-emphasized much of what we already knew: Emergencies exacerbate gender injustice, in part because the humanitarian system reinforces existing patriarchal social structures by excluding women from funding and decision making. Women's Humanitarian Voices: Covid-19 through a feminist lens has captured the creativity, resourcefulness, and deep feminist approaches of WROs in the Global South and has presented a powerful argument for why that system must change.

To be part of that change and to create a system that is inclusive of all and creates sustainable, transformative change, humanitarian actors across the system must immediately increase support for organizations advancing women's rights, in the form of direct, long-term, flexible funding. They must recognize their expertise and follow their leadership. A feminist humanitarian system is not only possible; it is critically needed and requires every humanitarian actor — including, importantly, donors — to take action.

Holly_Miller_Naomi_Tulay_Solanke_PhilanTopicHolly Miller is lead at the Feminist Humanitarian Network, a global collective of women leaders working together to achieve a humanitarian system that is guided by feminist principles. Naomi Tulay-Solanke is executive director of Community Healthcare Initiative and a member of the Feminist Humanitarian Network Steering Committee.

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    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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