Letter from the President & CEO: Strategic Plan Process Update

Rainier ClubDear WA Women’s Foundation Members,

Since my last report in October, the Board of Directors has made further progress on our strategic plan, and some of you have been involved in giving us feedback. Our consultant Tara Smith has met with our Cabinet, Impact Assessment Committee (IAC), and Member Engagement Committee, sharing our work product, to-date, and asking for feedback. We also have plans to meet with the Pooled Fund Grant Committee in early March.

For some members, it may seem like this process has been going on for a long time.  It is true that we revised our mission statement more than a year ago but that was part of our rebranding. This current process actually started last August, when our Strategic Planning Steering Committee met for the first time and our consultants began their information gathering process.  Since then, we hosted member focus groups and held a Board retreat in September.  We also discussed strategic planning at the two other regular Board meetings that have been held since September (in December and January).

Crux Consulting has been leading us through a values-based strategy process based upon the work of Dr. Steve Patty (Moving Icebergs: Leading People to Lasting Change).   His premise is that in order to create lasting change in an organization, we need to not only shape the actions of individuals within an organization but also, dive below the surface to engage their shared values, aims, assumptions and beliefs.  Otherwise, change simply chips away at the top of the iceberg but doesn’t actually move it.

And yes, icebergs move slowly – as does this process as compared to others.  We also are moving slowly because we are a membership organization, and we know that you, our members, are highly invested in the Foundation.  We are trying to test our working ideas in front of many different subgroups of members as possible, and you are busy women!

The member engagement we have conducted to-date has shaped the work of our Board and Strategic Planning Steering Committee in defining what we value collectively, what we believe collectively and what we are trying to do in the world as Washington Women’s Foundation. We have placed these ideas into the boxes of the Iceberg Model – Box A (ultimate aims/values), Box B (core beliefs) and Box C (intended impact). Click here to see a visual of the Patty Iceberg Model.

We shared the content of Boxes A and B with Cabinet, IAC and Member Engagement.  Here are a few samples:

Box A – Our Ultimate Aims

In all things and with all colleagues, partners and stakeholders, WA Women’s Foundation will:

  • Be in community
  • Embrace discomfort
  • Elevate or amplify the power of all who identify as women

Box B – Our Core Beliefs

These beliefs and assumptions shape our work at WA Women’s Foundation:

  • Recognizing and challenging our conscious and unconscious biases leads to better decision-making
  • Philanthropy is a powerful force for change, and it is one of several tools available to us
  • Partnership-based relationships between nonprofits and philanthropists improve the condition of our community

Since August, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has met a total of six times, including last week. At that meeting, the Committee reviewed feedback from the Member Engagement Committee, Cabinet and IAC and made some changes to Boxes A, B and C.  The Committee also decided to convene a task force of past Pooled Fund Grant Committee leadership in March.  We are asking this group to meet for 3 hours to brainstorm how they might change our Pooled Fund Grant Committee process with our Ultimate Aims and Core Beliefs in mind.  Their concepts, and feedback from grantee interviews being conducted by Crux in early March, will be shared with the Board at another full-day retreat in March.  At the conclusion of the retreat, we hope to have a full framework of the plan to again share with subgroups of members.

We are not far away from bringing this process to a close, but I also think that we’re facing a new reality where strategic planning is never really DONE.  We’re always learning, evaluating and adapting – as a learning organization I expect we’ll always be transforming in some way.  Thank you for being part of the transformation.  And if you have any questions along the way, please call or email me. I value hearing from you.

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Pooled Fund Grants 2018: Top 25 Organizations

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Since the beginning of January, members of the 2018 Pooled Fund Grant Committee have been reading and discussing 348 Letters of Inquiry submitted to Washington Women’s Foundation this past fall. They thoughtfully reflected on lessons from Intersect and used new tools from the Implicit Bias training the Foundation hosted in January to make their decisions about which organizations to select for a full proposal. We’re delighted to share the list of our Top 25 organizations this year and a bit about what they are applying for below. Read on for a refresher of how our process works from this point forward.

ARTS & CULTURE

DNDA (Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association): To provide urgent structural upgrades to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a Southwest Seattle community hub and National Historic Landmark that houses key community-based organizations, including Arts Corps, Totem Star, REEL Grrls, and The Service Board.

Northwest Film Forum: To build capacity in order to optimize usage of NWFF’s co-operative space, ensuring affordable and accessible cultural space is available to the Seattle and King County community at large as well as NWFF’s tenants.

Spark Central: To increase the reach of Spark’s free educational enrichment programs for low-income youth in Spokane County.

Totem Star: To amplify youth voice through music production classes and performance opportunities, serving many youth of color and youth from low-income communities in Seattle and the surrounding area.

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE): To empower young women in Seattle to share their stories and create change through the Writing our stories/Writing our world program, in partnership with Hedgebrook.

EDUCATION

Denise Louie Education Center: To expand their preschool for low-income, refugee, and immigrant families to North Seattle, provide staff training on immigration rights, and improve long-term sustainability by diversifying revenue streams.

La Casa Hogar: To provide a welcoming and physically safe environment for La Casa Hogar’s culturally and linguistically relevant programs and classes for Latino families in Yakima Valley.

The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas: To improve writing skills and academic outcomes for youth by providing free writing and creative expression programs to Seattle area students in need of additional support.

Treehouse: To help more youth in foster care graduate high school by expanding their holistic Graduation Success program into Snohomish County, Spokane, and Tacoma.

Wellspring Family Services: To provide ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) training to child care and early learning providers that serve homeless children in Seattle and King County.

ENVIRONMENT

American Rivers: To protect the Puget Sound and the Columbia River basin, currently threatened by climate change and competition for resources, through comprehensive river management tools.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities: To address the growing challenge of microplastics in the Puget Sound through data collection, evaluation, and education for the general public.

Sound Action: To protect the Puget Sound ecosystem by challenging development permits that threaten marine habitats in the Salish Sea through legal action.

Stand (formerly ForestEthics):  To build opposition to fossil fuel expansion and oil trains and move toward a clean energy economy in Whatcom County through community engagement and grassroots organizing.

Washington Green Schools: To strengthen students’ ability to become environmental leaders through school-based green school programs and school gardens in Washington State.

HEALTH

Crisis Clinic: To create a support text line for teens in crisis across Washington State, supplementing their successful Help Line and teen-answered Teen Link telephone programs.

Daybreak Youth Services: To expand their successful Spokane-based Paths to Prosperity program to Brush Prairie, WA, helping youth struggling with addiction create positive life plans through counseling, group activities, and academic support.

Skagit Adult Day Program: To provide social programing, support groups, and caregiver trainings for adults suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s in Skagit County.

The Memorial Foundation: To reduce health disparities for pregnant Native American women and lower the infant mortality rate on the Yakama Reservation through comprehensive prenatal and perinatal care programs.

Washington Youth Soccer Foundation: To grow their Soccer for Success program, creating health-centered opportunities for accessible afterschool programming and mentorship for underserved youth in Washington State.

HUMAN SERVICES

Disability Rights Washington (DRW): To improve the conditions for incarcerated people with disabilities in Washington State with the goal to interrupt the cycle of recidivism and support successful reentry.

First Step Family Support Center: To break the cycle of poverty for families on the Olympic Peninsula through parenting classes, home visits, support groups, and drop-in centers.

Sawhorse Revolution: To provide opportunities and training for youth in Seattle interested in construction and design, while completing building projects that benefit low-income Seattle residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Seattle Clemency Project: To connect reformed prisoners in Washington State with experienced pro bono lawyers to apply for clemency.

TeamChild: To provide legal services and holistic support for youth in the juvenile justice system who are often homeless in King, Pierce, Spokane, and Yakima counties.

Need a refresher on WA Women’s grant making process? Our large-scale, strategic approach to collective grant making is a national model that has been tested and refined over the last 22 years. The goal of our grant making and programming is to challenge and educate our members, who then use their collective power to influence community transformation. Together, we have invested more than $17 million through our Pooled Fund Grants, our Partner Grants and individual grants.

Here’s a quick recap of our annual Pooled Fund grant making process:

  • January – LOIs: The Grant Committee reviews and discusses Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and invites 25 organizations to submit proposals.
  • March/April – Proposals: The Grant Committee evaluates 25 full proposals and selects 15 organizations to receive site visits.
  • April/May – Site Visits: Teams of WA Women’s Foundation members visit 15 organizations and report their findings to the full Grant Committee. The Grant Committee then selects the final 10 organizations to appear on the ballot.
  • June – Member Voting: All 475 members of WA Women’s Foundation vote by electronic ballot to determine which 5 organizations will receive our $100,000 Pooled Fund Grant Awards. The grantees are announced at our Grant Award Celebration on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  Mark your calendar now to join us at this special event to be held at the Seattle Art Museum.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has given out $17 million in transformative grants that enable not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington State.

We invite all who identify as women to join us to make a more powerful impact in our community. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfoundation.org