Rapid response initiative to stabilize financially threatened women’s funds and foundations through next phases of COVID recovery
The Women’s Funding Network is committed to not only ensuring all women’s funds remain operational, but that through this collaboration and intentional resourcing of the field, we will center women and gender nationally and at the local level in the rebuilding of our economic and healthcare infrastructure. The goal is not just sustainability, but also the emergence of this philanthropic sector as vital, influential, and at a stronger place by 2022 than we were pre-COVID.
SAN FRANCISCO — Women’s Funding Network (WFN) announced today the launch of the Response, Recovery, and Resilience Collaborative Fund (RRRCF), a multi-million dollar initiative to quickly deploy stabilization grants to women’s funds and foundations as they adapt to the post-pandemic landscape while remaining committed to their grantmaking and advocacy for the women and girls most impacted by systemic racism and injustice. The Fund will also convene thought-leaders, partners, and frontline community groups to help identify and resource bold strategies that, by 2022, will strengthen the gender equity and justice philanthropic sector as a vital, influential and effective advocate for social change.
The RRRCF was created from nearly $1 million in seed funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, other institutional funders, and individual donors. WFN seeks to raise an additional $5 million in the next few months.
“The disproportionate death-rate from COVID-19 in women of color’s communities and the global protests against racism and police brutality are inextricably linked and demand a philanthropic response rooted in gender and racial justice,” said Women’s Funding Network President and CEO Elizabeth Barajas-Román. “Women’s funds and foundations apply this intersectional, social justice approach by centering women of color leaders who will ensure a community-led COVID-19 recovery, will focus on gaps in federal and state funding, and will work to not only recover from this crisis, but build a more resilient, equitable society, and more just future.”
Although there are many bright spots in the efforts of women’s funds and foundations to aid in recovery while managing financial loss and illness within their institutions amid the pandemic, because of COVID-19, about one third of U.S. women’s funds and foundations are in danger of not surviving the year. Their loss could set economic mobility measures for women and families back decades within their communities, especially in communities of color. Women’s funds and foundations are system change institutions that multiply every size gift 10 times, primarily by supporting women of color-led organizations that are mapping an inclusive economy built on racial and gender equity and justice.
Women’s funds’ and foundations’ robust presence in the COVID-19 response effort ensures a gender justice lens in communities across the country. In addition to stabilizing financially threatened women’s funds and foundations in the immediate-term, the RRRCF initiative seeks to bring together institutional funders and donors to join forces for a multi-phase COVID-19 effort that has both immediate and long-term impact, allowing funders to quickly organize and deploy resources to fund organizations through the next phases of COVID-19 investment priorities including response, recovery and resilience. The initiative also seeks to take what’s being learned now and direct knowledge, resources and efforts toward the medium and long-term consequences of the pandemic — consequences that will likely be born more heavily by low-income women in communities of color.
A 2020 survey of Women’s Funding Network members revealed that the majority deployed their funding with a systems approach. These women’s funds and foundations reported that they believe lasting economic security requires investment in training and career pathways for women, childcare access and quality early education, reducing intimate partner violence, peace advocacy, racial justice and healing, leadership advancement, and health. In 2018 alone, 46 of the Network’s women’s foundation members invested $50 million to strengthen the combination of interlocking parts that move women and girls from poverty to prosperity.
Examples of the work being supported by women’s funds and foundations through local COVID-19 response funds include:
- New York Women’s Foundation deployed $1,000,000 in the first round of grants to current and former grantee partners helping women, transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary individuals and their families most impacted by COVID-19.
- Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham created a rapid response fund for fundraising and deployment of targeted grants to child care centers serving children of essential employees in areas of highest needs throughout the state of Alabama.
- Women’s Foundation of Minnesota deployed $500,000 in emergency grants of up to $10,000 to organizations serving women and girls experiencing gender-based violence, older women, and those who need short-term financial support due to the effects of COVID-19.
- Canadian Women’s Foundation created a $1 million national emergency fund to provide critical support to women and girls through the COVID-19 crisis.
- The Women’s Foundation of Colorado deployed $320,000 in rapid-response grants to nonprofit organizations across the state serving Colorado women.
With more than 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning six continents, Women’s Funding Network is the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls. The Women’s Funding Network accelerates women’s leadership and invests in solving critical social issues—from economic security to reproductive health and justice—by bringing together the financial power, influence and voices of women’s funds. Fore more information on the work of Women’s Funding Network and its members, please visit www.womensfundingnetwork.org or connect on Twitter (@womensfunding) and Facebook (facebook.com/womensfundingnetwork).