A Transformative Year for WFN

Dear Colleagues,

The coronavirus pandemic changed everything. How we raise families, educate kids, work, travel, shop, even the way we grieve and hold each other in that grief – not a single aspect of our lives was left unchanged in COVID’s wake. What remained constant, even amid change, however, was your commitment to meet the needs of women and girls all over the world. 

At WFN we see you. Even when facing an uncertain future, we witnessed you mobilize during the moments of crisis faster and with more effectiveness than any other philanthropic sector. That’s why, early on, WFN committed to matching your efforts with infrastructure to help equip, restore, and sustain you. For example: 

  • In June, we launched the Response, Recovery and Resilience Collaborative Fund (RRRCF), a multi-million-dollar initiative to support you as you adapted to the pandemic. To date, we’ve dispersed over $400,000 in awards to 16 recipients in 13 U.S. states. Nearly 40 percent of the grants went to women’s funds led by women of color. And we’re not close to being done. The RRRCF is more than just a relief project. Its purpose is fundamental to the Network itself. When successful, it will be a significant step toward restoring the women’s funding sector from a nice to have, to a need to have in the philanthropic landscape at the intersection of race, gender, and class.
  • While the Women’s Economic Mobility hub was envisioned a year prior, in 2020, WFN provided grants up to $100,000 each over a two year period, and supported strategy pivots as 5-regional and 4-state-focused hubs wrestled with some of the biggest questions faced in our lifetime regarding the economy, the nature work, and re-envisioning what it means for families to thrive. We look forward to ongoing partnership with these women’s funds in 2021 as we offer technical assistance, connect them to capacity-building opportunities, a shared learning platform, along with additional grants for communication and narrative infrastructure.  
  • One week after the U.S. national quarantine, WFN began holding weekly executive leadership calls with members. As of Dec. 11, WFN held 39 consecutive weeks of “Friday calls.” Originally a place for you to connect and recharge with your peers, the video calls quickly evolved as a gathering place for strategy development, skills sharing, field reports, and hope. We are committed to meeting your requests to continue these regular conversations in 2021.  
  • In 72 op-eds and national media mentions, WFN championed your work and ensured that your leadership was represented in the national conversion. Along those lines, in 2020, we completed a website overhaul and branding refresh. The update enhanced our ability to highlight our collective actions on Black Lives Matter and systemic racism, institutional violence at the hands of police, I.C.E. and mass incarceration, and centering women and girls in the 2020 election and presidential debate.
  • Through a partnership with Ascend at the Aspen Institute and funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, WFN released “Whole Family Approaches to Economic Mobility: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Multigenerational Policy and Practice,” a toolkit for funders which provides a guide, based on the experiences and research of women’s funds and philanthropy from across the country that are investing in families and communities with a whole-family focus.  
  • With support from the Ford Foundation, WFN also engaged in a research project, interviewing 44 women’s funds and private foundations to examine the participatory grantmaking practices of community- and state-based women’s funds and foundations.

Through it all, we hope we helped create a valuable alliance that had your back. I’m confident that the relationships we deepened during this year of struggle will strengthen us in 2021 as we rebuild a better future.

Yours for equity and justice,

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth