And the Winner of the Emerging Issues Partner Grant is…

By Donna Lou and Jennifer Sik

Co-Chairs, Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee

The Issue

This year, the committee focused its learning and inquiry on the topic of Women’s Civic Leadership and Engagement. As a group, we explored what leadership means in a political and community context, and evaluated organizations focused on leadership opportunities for women in Washington.

The grant committee process began in mid-September and took a total of 12 weeks to complete. As part of our education on the issue, we recommended that the committee read Joanna Barsh’s book How Remarkable Women Lead, shared the Nonprofit AF post Progressive funders, you may be part of the problem and reviewed the Women’s Funding Alliance report The Status of Women in Washington. WFA Executive Director Liz Vivian and Director of Programs Aparna Rae both came to the committee to dive deep into the issue and share their expertise as well. If you’re curious to learn more, we recommend reading WA Women’s Fdn President & CEO Beth McCaw’s recent blog post titled Claiming Our Right to Not Only Elect, But Be Elected.

Our Partner

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For those of you that are not familiar with our Partner Grant program, these grant committees differ from our larger Pooled Fund grants because we bring in an external partner. Working with an outside grant making organization assists us with locating potential grantees, and brings expertise to our committee in our focus area.

We chose Women’s Funding Alliance to be our partner in this effort. We thought this would be a good time to once again work with WFA as they were in the process of making grants for their LEAD Initiative. This initiative focuses on funding programs that help bring more women to the table as elected or appointed officials, candidates, voters and civic leaders.

Always interested in experimenting, we decided to try something new in how we structured our partnership this year. Funding for Partner Grants are usually generated by committee members who contribute, on average, $500 each towards the grant. This year because of WFA’s genuine interest in our committee’s work, they became an invested partner with our committee by not only contributing $20,000 to the grant pool, but also inviting WFA donors to join the committee. We were delighted to bring these new voices into our process!

We also had another partner this fall – Laird Norton Wealth Management.  For the second time, Laird Norton Wealth Management also generously contributed to the pool. Thus, the total amount of funds available for this year’s Emerging Partner Grant was $28,000.

Our Process

We reviewed seven proposals from organizations that had applied to WFA for their LEAD Initiative funding. By reviewing proposals that had already been submitted, we were able to minimize the impact on the organizations by not asking them to fill out another grant application. After discussing each proposal we narrowed our choices down to three organizations. We made site visits to all three organizations and then came back together for one last meeting, to discuss what we learned from our visits and vote on grant awards.

As a group, we put together some criteria to guide us in our proposal review as well as our final decision making. This criteria included focusing on underserved communities that would include some geographic diversity, programs that would be innovative, replicable and sustainable, and outcomes that would provide long term, actionable and impactful solutions.

The Grantees

Because we had three outstanding and compelling proposals and more funds then is normally the case for a Partner Grant, the committee decided to award funds to all three organizations. Read on to learn more about the three organizations that received funding from this grant.

Para Los Niños

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This organization will be receiving a $20,000 grant from our Emerging Partner Grant Committee.

This grassroots organization is based out of Burien, WA. Para Los Niños leads a family literacy program and two summer programs that engage and involve nearly 200 Latino immigrant families on an annual basis. Their education programs provide an entry point for Latina mothers who might be reluctant to enroll in a program for themselves, but eager to participate in activities for their children. Through this program, Para Los Niños finds ways to build relationships and recruits participants for their Leadership Academy.

The Leadership Academy is nearly 10 years in the making and builds off of a foundational curriculum about the U.S. education and political system, advocacy and community organizing and individual leadership skills.

Although this grant does not cover the entire cost of running the Leadership Academy program, we are hoping that Para Los Niños can use this grant to leverage other funding.

La Casa Hogar

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Our committee is awarding a grant of $7,000 to La Casa Hogar, a non-profit organization based out of Yakima, WA where an estimated 44% of residents are Latina/Hispanic.

La Casa Hogar provides a wide range of social and educational services for the Latina/Hispanic community and partners with local city and state organizations to help low-income families in the region.

La Casa Hogar plans to develop a leadership program that is open to all of their students using a promotora model by developing confidence, education, and civic engagement among 15 Spanish-speaking Latina women who would otherwise not access leadership education.

Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center

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Our committee is also providing a $1,000 merit award to Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center based here in Seattle. IPJC is an interfaith non-profit organization that has put together a grassroots community organizing and empowerment program for low-income and underrepresented women through a unique model of organizing called Women’s Justice Circles. Each circle is made up of 10-15 women and meets weekly for eight weeks. Their focus is on identifying a common justice issue, developing collaboration skills, strategies for change and networks for action.

Committee Picture

Prior to our vote for the grant awards, we had a moment of reflection regarding the grant committee’s work over the past 12 weeks. It was heartening to hear how energized and positive committee members were feeling about the process and how many felt humbled and inspired by the amount of work being done by organizations with limited resources. The group enjoyed getting to know each other, and built new relationships between Women’s Funding Alliance and WA Women’s Foundation. We look forward to continuing our education about this women’s civic engagement and leadership, and invite you to learn more about our new grantees!

Thank you to the Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee: Alison Kilkenny, Alissa Hersch, Amy Corey, Anne Repass, Ara Swanson Merkens, Brooke Walker, Carol Pencke, Donna Lou, Heather Cashman, Jennifer Sik, Lisa Packer, Nancy Elliott, Nicole Stellner, Piper Lauri Salogga, Rebecca Wilson, Tracy Shafer, Yvonne Hall

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IAC Year-End Report: Reflecting on Our Impact

Did you know that while the IAC may not be as visible as our Grant Committees, it is by far our largest committee with over fifty members participating on any given year? Why so many? We follow fifteen grantees— each of our annual five recipients— for 3 years with 3 to 5 members on each grantee team.

The Impact Assessment Committee’s charge is to “monitor the progress of Foundation Pooled Grants, communicate the impact of these grants to the Foundation’s membership, provide feedback to the Grant Committee and seek to strengthen the relationships with the Foundation’s grantees.”

A cohort of Executive Directors representing a wide range of our past grantees form a key part of the IAC, providing valuable insight into the challenges of operating a nonprofit.  Our deepest thanks to these Executive Directors who shared their time and expertise with us:  Brian Knowles (Bailey-Boushay House, 2012 Health Grantee); Daniel Petersen (Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, 2012 Arts & Culture Grantee); John Floberg (WA State Parks Foundation 2013 Environment Grantee); Kelly Stockman McKee (Friends of the Children, 2008 Education Grantee); Stan Ledington (The Health Center, 2013 Health Grantee); Jorge Barón (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, 2013 Human Services Grantee); John Bradshaw (Seattle Shakespeare Company, 2011 Arts & Culture Grantee); and Helen McGovern-Pilant (Emergency Food Network, 2010 Human Services Grantee).

At meetings, the Impact Assessment Committee focuses its discussion primarily on four key areas:

  • Organizational accomplishments with our grants;
  • Challenges faced and lessons learned;
  • Financial health and leadership stability;
  • Themes and trends that cross all five areas of our funding.

In addition to looking for sector trends that can better inform our work, IAC also is curious about the trends in our own grant making.  Which communities are we funding, and where?  Which groups of individuals are being served by the grants we make?  Where are gaps?  In response to these questions, our staff will be conducting an internal trends analysis over the summer, and we will publish those results in the early fall.

The following are highlights of what the Impact Assessment Committee observed and learned this past year:

  • Organizational change is inevitable. Successful organizations have the resilience to navigate change and manage adversity. In the future, members serving on the Grant Committee may want to consider if there are ways to assess an organization’s resilience, especially if unexpected change could prevent the organization from achieving goals related to our grant.
  • Partnerships are key to solving complex issues. If we’re funding an organization that needs to build partnerships to achieve its goals, we should consider the organization’s ability to build those partnerships.  Does that organization have the clout or reputation to build effective partnerships?  Why is it uniquely qualified?  Does it have the capacity to be the catalyst?
  • Sometimes United Way funding does matter. We don’t always have to fund organizations that also receive a lot of traditional institutional funding.  In fact, we often pride ourselves on being the first foundation funder that other institutional funders follow.  However, as the IAC learned from some of the Executive Directors on the Committee, in certain communities in particular, the lack of United Way support is an indicator of risks and challenges that we should fully understand and appreciate before making a funding decision.
  • Executive Directors suffer from serious burnout, which leads to turnover, and fundraising is often the greatest contributing factor, especially in small to mid-size organizations. Multi-year grants of general operating support help, but the sector needs more of these.  Capacity-building grants are also critical.  WA Women’s Foundation can help address this troubling issue by continuing to award grants of general operating support and investing in capacity-building.
  • Political events impact our grantees and their success. Uncertainty in funding sources can be a source of stress, especially for organizations that rely on federal grants. We can support our grantees by checking in with them about this topic throughout our relationship with them.

Through site visits and annual reports, we hear stories from our grantees about their triumphs and challenges. We share these occasionally in our weekly newsletters, highlight them on our Facebook page, and also would like to share some recent updates with you here.

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Terrain, 2016 Arts & Culture Grantee

In their Annual report, Terrain shared that our “operating grant has helped build our capacity and deepen the roots that firmly plant Terrain as THE arts organization focusing on Spokane’s cultural vibrancy, creative economy, and artistic innovation.” They have hired staff to transition from being an all-volunteer run organization, launched new programs to cultivate the creative economy in Spokane, and continue to attract bigger and bigger crowds to their events.

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Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, 2015 Education Grantee

FEPPS has had incredible success since the beginning of our grantee relationship. They shared, “In 2016 we had 4 graduates with Associate of Arts degrees.  In June 2017, we had 19 graduates, which was covered in the Seattle Times.  In 2018, we have over 30 women on track to graduate. All of our 12 alumni who have released from prison are enrolled in two and four-year colleges and universities upon release.” Additionally, they are working to increase advising for their students and hope to launch a BA program within the program soon.

WWT.PNGWashington Water Trust, 2016 Environment Grantee

WWT is growing strategically, and shared that our support “has given staff and leadership the flexible time to delve more deeply into professional development, creative and strategic thinking that will bring innovative solutions into focus”. WWT hired their first Investments and Partnership Officer in November 2016, built a customer relationship management system, and continues to expand into more geographic regions across the state.

whidbey_650_0.jpgForefront, 2015 Health Grantee

Our grant to Forefront was focused on bringing suicide prevention programming and support services to rural communities in Washington, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. In two years they’ve reached six rural counties, training hundreds of health and school professionals and individuals in suicide prevention. In a recent blog post, Jennifer Barron reflected “The WA Women’s Fdn grant is very community-focused. It made it possible to have collaborations with cross-sections of communities, to ask: “what can we do?”

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Amara, 2015 Human Services Grantee

In a recent report, Amara shared that “Since opening in December 2014, the King County sanctuary has provided a warm, home-like environment for more than 460 children.” Grandese’s Place (as the Emergency Sanctuary is known) helps decrease stress for children in transition to foster care, and has 118 trained volunteers. Amara continues to grow this successful program; in December 2016 they opened another emergency sanctuary, this time in Pierce County, to address an urgent need from the community.

Interested in serving on the Impact Assessment Committee? Openings will be publicized in the fall.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformative grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfoundation.org

And The 2017 Pooled Fund Grantees Are…

Yesterday, Washington Women’s Foundation members named five organizations to each receive a $100,000 grant from the Foundation’s Pooled Fund, totaling $500,000. In the 22 years since the Foundation’s inception, our members have influenced transformation in communities across Washington State by collectively granting over $17 million. We are delighted to introduce you to this year’s WA Women’s Foundation Grantees and Merit Award Winners!

2017 Pooled Fund Grant Award Winners

Copy of 12244256_1108079419211650_6388223093394342773_oArts & Culture: The Seattle Globalist
The Seattle Globalist is a daily online publication that covers the connections between local and global issues here in Seattle. They highlight diverse voices and train the next generation of media makers. Our funding will help them continue to break down the barriers of entry into media for women and people of color, offering mentorship, guidance and connections as a powerful launchpad for new voices in Seattle.

 

west seattle outdoor preschoolers exploring fungus.jpgEducation: Tiny Trees Preschool
Tiny Tree’s mission is to use outdoor classrooms to make a quality education in reading, math and science affordable for families and to give children a joyful, nature rich childhood – one full of play, exploration and wonder. Our  funding will help them continue to respond to the soaring costs of childcare and its disproportionate effects on low-income families and communities of color by leading the movement for affordable, high quality preschool.

 

RF Workshop BC.jpgEnvironment: ReUse Works
ReUse Works was founded on the simple premise that there is economic opportunity in both the products and the people that our society has discarded. Our funding will help them continue to increase the Ragfinery program’s capacity to provide job training services, sustainable textile recycling, educational outreach about textile waste, and inspiration for creative reuse, while moving Ragfinery toward economic self-sufficiency.

 

IMG_2006 (2)Health: FEEST
FEEST empowers low income youth and youth of color in White Center and Delridge to become leaders for healthy food access, food justice and health equity. They organize 40-45 high school youth once a week to cook an improvised dinner using fresh vegetables from local markets. These community dinners serve as a pipeline to recruit and develop emerging food justice leaders for their year-long internship program. Interns develop and implement campaigns that seek to increase access to healthy foods for students and their families. Our general operating funding will support this work and the continued implementation of their ambitious strategic plan.

 

20150929_BEST_Employers_Alliance_053Human Services: Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking
Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) aligns and equips leaders to use the power of business to prevent human trafficking. Through training, consultation and collaboration, they work with businesses to drive behavioral change and improve the lives of the victims involved. Our funding will help them continue to reduce trafficking in our region by changing the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that enable human trafficking to flourish.

 

2017 Merit Award Winners

Washington Women’s Foundation presented a $2,000 Merit Award to each of our other five finalist organizations in recognition of the time, effort and goodwill they invested in our rigorous grant making process. This year’s Merit Award Winners are:

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Arts & Culture: Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Wing Luke’s mission is to connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences. Wing Luke aims to create more informed citizens, especially around issues of civil and constitutional rights, immigration, labor history and refugees, through the development of an Asian Pacific American history curriculum, web portal and teacher training.

 

RVC fellows.jpgEducation: Rainier Valley Corps 

Rainier Valley Corps promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Their fellowship program recruits, trains, mentors, and supports 10 emerging leaders from diverse communities of color and places them in people of color-led Community Building Organizations to develop the organizations’ capacity.

Spill Kit Training Caption.jpgEnvironment: ECOSS
ECOSS educates and empowers businesses and diverse communities to implement environmentally sustainable practices. ECOSS works to advance environmental equity by providing multicultural environmental outreach, engagement, resources and technical assistance to businesses and communities in the Puget Sound Region that encourage urban redevelopment and a healthy environment. 

 

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Health: Yoga Behind Bars
Yoga Behind Bars brings yoga and meditation to prisons, jails, and detention centers to promote rehabilitation, personal transformation, and a more just society for all. They work to help to build safer communities and contribute to the reform of the corrections system through trauma–informed yoga and meditation classes at correctional facilities throughout Washington State. 

It Takes a Village

Human Services: La Casa Hogar

La Casa Hogar’s mission is to connect and educate Latino families, and to transform lives in Yakima Valley. La Casa provides a range of educational opportunities that are specifically suited to the immigrant population in Yakima. Many of these families are at-risk from language, income and education limitations, eroded self-esteem, reduced mobility, few marketable skills, and a scarcity of available resources. Classes offered include English/Spanish literacy, adult basic education, digital inclusion, financial literacy, health education, parenting, pre-school preparation for children, and citizenship education.


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

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfoundation.org

Top 25: Pooled Fund Grants 2017

It’s that exciting time of year again! Over 60 members serving on our Pooled Fund Grant Committee have selected 25 Washington State not-for-profits to move forward in our grant making process.

Want to know this year’s Top 25? Scroll down to read more!

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 21 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 $16 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 studies ~300 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and prioritizes 25 to move forward to submit proposals.
  • March/April – Proposals: The Grant Committee evaluates 25 formal proposals and selects 15 organizations to receive site visits.
  • 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 large impact Pooled Fund Grant Awards of $100,000. The grantees are announced at our Grant Award Celebration on Tuesday, June 13.  Mark your calendar now to join us at this special event to be held at the Seattle Art Museum.

And, without further ado, we present the 25 organizations that have been invited to submit full proposals this year:

ARTS & CULTURE

Intiman Theatre: To challenge the notion that the American theatre industry is a white institution by creating and strengthening a pipeline of up-and-coming, diverse artists who are capable of contributing nontraditional viewpoints to the cultural capital of King County.

Pongo Publishing: To break the cycle of trauma both for incarcerated youth and for adults suffering from substance abuse and long-term homelessness through the power of creative expression and mentorship.

ProForum: To forge creative alliances with diverse communities, bring inspiring filmmaking to new audiences and make the art of filmmaking an integral part of social change through Seattle’s only Social Justice Film Festival.

The Seattle Globalist: To break down the barriers to entry into media for women and people of color, offering mentorship, guidance and connections as a powerful launchpad for new voices in Seattle.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience: To create more informed citizens, especially around issues of civil and constitutional rights, immigration, labor history and refugees, through the development of an Asian Pacific American history curriculum, web portal and teacher training.

EDUCATION

Greater Seattle Techbridge: To close the wage and opportunity gap for girls, particularly under-represented minorities in low-income communities, by building girls’ interest – and confidence – to pursue STEM pathways.

OneAmerica: To increase immigrant families’ economic mobility and students’ success rates by removing barriers to immigrant parents’ school engagement through contextualized instruction in English language acquisition and digital literacy.

Rainier Valley Corps: To amplify the voices of communities of color in policy-making decisions by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and creating space for collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change.

Tiny Trees Preschool: To respond to the soaring costs of childcare and its disproportionate effects on low-income families and communities of color by leading the movement for affordable, high quality preschool.

University Beyond Bars: To fight mass incarceration, reduce recidivism and end inter-generational cycles of violence and poverty through providing prisoners access to higher education.

ENVIRONMENT

ECOSS: To advance environmental equity by providing multicultural environmental outreach, engagement, resources and technical assistance to businesses and communities in the Puget Sound Region that encourage urban redevelopment and a healthy environment.

Front and Centered: To address the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental degradation on communities of color and low-income people by advocating, educating, engaging and mobilizing communities of color throughout Washington State.

PCC Farmland Trust: To preserve land, feed local communities and grow businesses in Pierce County by connecting new and expanding farmers with land opportunities.

ReUse Works: To reduce both waste and unemployment in Whatcom county by providing the skills, tools, materials and resources needed to divert textiles from waste to supplies and upcycled goods.

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility: To reduce the threat of nuclear war by using health-based advocacy and developing a broad West Coast coalition to encourage members of Congress to maintain the international ban on nuclear testing.

HEALTH

Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team (FEEST): To increase health in communities of color by raising up youth leaders who can educate their peers and families about healthy eating, while simultaneously advocating for systemic change that increases access to healthy foods.

HopeSparks: To reduce the access gap for mental health services in Pierce County by providing more high-quality services for low-income families that would otherwise have no place else to turn to address their family’s mental health needs.

Kindering Center: To respond creatively to increased demand and urgency for vital therapies and interventions through remote audio/video sessions for children with disabilities who are unable to receive services in-person or at home.

University of Washington Foundation – MOMCare: To improve the care of pregnant women on Medicaid, especially those facing antenatal depression, through an evidence-based treatment program that helps reduce depression during pregnancy, prevents postpartum depression and improves parenting and social functioning.

Yoga Behind Bars: To promote rehabilitation, help to build safer communities and contribute to reform of the corrections system through trauma–informed yoga and meditation classes at correctional facilities throughout Washington State.

HUMAN SERVICES

Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking: To reduce trafficking in our region by changing the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that enable human trafficking to flourish.

La Casa Hogar: To combat the leadership gap among Latina women in the Yakima Valley using a culturally and linguistically competent model that has proved effective to build leadership skills within the Latina/o community.

Room One: To address a primary barrier to financial stability and family wellbeing in the Methow Valley by creating a collaboratively developed childcare center that integrates wrap-around support for families.

Sound Outreach: To help build wealth among Pierce County’s unbanked and underbanked consumers by providing low-cost, low risk financial products to people who otherwise could not qualify.

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: To improve housing stability, health and well-being among Native survivors of abuse and their children and to establish evidence to influence policy, practice and funding nationwide.


Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.  We do this through:

  • individual and collective discovery,
  • high-impact grant making,
  • and respecting and listening to all voices in our community.

We invite all 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 

Advocating for Change: Sponsoring the Summit on Hate and Gun Violence

emilyfeichtby Emily Feicht, former Director of Operations & Donor Services at WA Women’s Foundation. Emily is currently the Assistant Director of Foundation Board Engagement at University of Washington.

At the Foundation’s June board meeting, board members engaged in a conversation about the role philanthropy can play in advocating for reducing gun violence. This year has heightened our awareness of the devastating disproportionate impact of gun violence on communities of color and the LGBTQ community. In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the Board of WA Women’s Foundation made a discretionary grant to support local community-led efforts to reduce gun violence.

alliance-for-gun-responsibilityWA Women’s Foundation’s grant provided funding for the Summit on Hate and Gun Violence hosted by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation in early October. Our sponsorship helped the Alliance bring together diverse voices to focus on gun violence prevention and programs in communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence, social isolation and discrimination. As their Executive Director Renee Hopkins noted:

While gun violence prevention work is vibrant and growing, it has not always succeeded at including all communities in the United States. We hope this conversation will help to build a more diverse and inclusive gun violence prevention movement. Your grant allowed us to dedicate October 7th to starting a crucial conversation within the movement in Washington and nationwide. Through innovative approaches to our work moving forward, we hope to fundamentally shift and open up the conversation on how to make all of our communities safer and more connected.

On October 7th, I attended this Summit along with 40 diverse community leaders. The Summit began with a panel of fellow community leaders working on the ground within communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence including: Kayla Hicks, Director of African American & Community Outreach at the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and Dominick Davis of Seattle’s 180 Program. Their lively discussion focused on the root causes of gun violence and how best to engage communities of color in the work around gun violence prevention.

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A few takeaways:

  • We forget to look beyond the bullet. Gun violence is a symptom of a larger problem, and we have to get to the root of the cause.
  • Creating inclusive policy and advocacy is important. We must engage and make space for conversations within diverse communities to allow them to define their own solutions and actions.
  • Education and engagement are paramount to policy and social change.

I left the Summit inspired by the work already being done within communities disproportionately affected by gun violence and challenged to think beyond my own perspectives on this issue.

If you would like to learn more about the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, visit their website at gunresponsibility.org/our-alliance/.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfdn.org

And the Winner of the $15,000 Criminal Justice Diversity Partner Grant is…

by Ann Kumasaka and Donna Lou
Co-Leaders of the Criminal Justice Diversity Partner Grant
WA Women’s Foundation Board Members

It was an honor to serve as this year’s Diversity Partner Grant Co-Chairs and as always, it gave us the opportunity to meet and get to know so many more of our WA Women Foundation members, which in turn provides me with connections that will last for many years to come.

This year, the process for choosing the topic of criminal justice was timely and carefully planned.

Before the Grant

Our leadership team, led by President Beth McCaw, Grant Programs Manager Laura Ciotti and WA Women’s Foundation member Maura Fallon, put together a year-long program that culminated with the work of this committee. Earlier this year, all WA Women’s Foundation members were invited to read Brian Stevenson’s book Just Mercy followed by a discussion at The Seattle Public Library. Read more about the discussion here

Members were then invited to watch the final episode of the PBS series Race: The Power of an Illusion (2003). The episode called “The House We Live In” focuses on the ways institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others.

The words “mass incarceration,” “Prison Industrial Complex” and the “School to Prison Pipeline” are now familiar terms to many of us. We at the Foundation wanted to become better informed about these social justice issues and take action toward addressing these issues.

As a result, this fall’s Diversity Partner Grant committee focused on Criminal Justice, and it had the highest number of members (24) participate out of all of our previous Partner Grant committees since the initiative began in 2011. Through fundraising and members’ participation, we collected $15,000 to award to one organization.

Our Process

Before the committee embarked on its work, we held a workshop called “Healing from Racism to Build Stronger Philanthropy” led by WA Women’s Foundation member, Maura Fallon. We felt that in order to have a better understanding of the issues we would be studying, we needed to be 1) aware of our own racial identity and its impact, 2) understand how race and oppression have operated individually, and 3) develop goals for becoming an ally through philanthropy.

social-justice-fund-nwAt our first committee meeting, Mijo Lee, Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest (SJF), shared their approach to grant making and educated us about issues within the criminal justice system, about the types of organizations that SJF funds, and why they support grassroots community organizing.  It was an enlightening and humbling experience, and we are very grateful that Mijo took time out of her busy schedule this fall to share her expertise with us as our partner.

Our committee members reviewed proposals from ten Washington-based organizations who, earlier this year, applied for funding directly from SJF. In this way, we were able to hear from some very small organizations who may not otherwise have learned about. After reviewing the proposals, committee members selected 3 organizations that received site visits. We then came together last Thursday, December 1 to talk about our visits and what we learned. We then voted and the grant award winner was determined.

Our Three Finalists

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With its 44,000 members and a coalition of 2,500 small businesses, Washington CAN! is the largest community grassroots organization in Washington state. Since their founding in 1983, they have created and maintained a large, strong and diverse statewide community presence of grassroots leaders and community members working to achieve racial, gender, social and economic justice in Washington state and throughout the nation. They sought funding to support their work to reinstate the parole system in Washington which was eliminated in 1984, largely due to inadequate funding and now-disputed research that suggested rehabilitation-based sentencing fails. The funding would also support work to reform the system of Legal Financial Obligations, which are the extensive fines, fees, and costs imposed by the court on top of a criminal sentence. At our site visit, we met with extremely impassioned family members who are organizing and advocating on behalf of their imprisoned sons and brothers, and it was clear that Washington CAN!’s work in these areas gives much needed support for highly marginalized and impoverished communities under stress.

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T.E.A.C.H., which is “Taking Education and Creating History”, is a higher education program in the Clallam Bay Corrections Center run by the Black Prisoners Caucus designed to bring college-level education to prisoners. T.E.A.C.H. classes are available to every prisoner regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs. The program provides many opportunities for prisoners to develop a broad range of skills to improve their lives — leadership, teaching and mentorship, curriculum development, parenting, problem-solving, introspection, and a deep understanding of the forces and decisions that have influenced their lives. At our site visit, we met with ten founding members on the T.E.A.C.H. board. Their passion for learning and their enthusiasm to share knowledge has greatly impacted their lives and has radiated outward into the community. State law prohibiting the use of public funds to support higher education for incarcerated people has increased their need for additional support to build a vibrant and sustainable program. Their focus on education and self-empowerment for prisoners is unwavering, and their success has been truly measureable.

Both Washington CAN! and T.E.A.C.H. are exceptional organizations, and both deserve recognition for their incredible service to our communities.

Now it is our great pleasure to announce this year’s $15,000 grant recipient, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.

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Photo Credit: Myllie Vo

Colectiva Legal del Pueblo (CLP) was founded in 2012 by undocumented community organizers, activists and immigration attorneys working to build community power to achieve dignity and migrant justice through advocacy, education and legal support. Their mission is to provide a wide variety of direct legal services as well as community organizing, community-based trainings and workshops. These programs empower immigrant and undocumented communities to know their rights, de-mystify the legal process and build collective power. CLP employs these strategies to strengthen communities to defend themselves from deportation and detention, and to increase movement building to address immigration reform and systemic racism within immigration laws and policies, both locally and nationally. Dedicated to the abolition of migrant imprisonment that profits off the separation of families and exploited labor, CLP envisions a world in which migrant justice work is rooted in the right of free movement for all people, regardless of borders.

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A number of members from this Diversity Partner Grant Committee plan to stay in touch with each of the three finalist organizations. Many of us feel that a personal commitment, whether to volunteer our time or offer financial support, will help make a genuine difference in the lives of the people that these organizations serve. We invite you to join us and help to create transformational change in our community.

Thank you to the Diversity Partner Grant Committee: Kathleen Albrecht, Suzy Bruya, Susan Burke, Jean Carter, Amy Corey, Kathleen Davis, Lorraine Del Prado, Nancy Elliott, Maura Fallon, Sharon Hammel, Lori Harnick, Jill Hearne, Ann Kumasaka, Jana Mohr Lone, Donna Lou, Beth Morrison, Donna Murphy, Erika Olsen, Sarah Perry, Anne Repass, Paula Riggert, Charmaine Stouder, Brooke Witt, Leslie Yamada
 
A special thank you to leaders Ann Kumasaka and Donna Lou, and to Maura Fallon, who created and facilitated the workshop “Healing from Racism” for all committee members.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformational grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfdn.org

Member Reflections: Seattle Center Outing

July 21st was a beautiful summer day in Seattle. 30 WA Women’s Foundation members gathered at Seattle Center for the unique experience of visiting 3 past grant recipients on their home turf:

Intiman Theatre, 2016 Merit Award Winner, hosted us for a lunch where members connected with Intiman’s diverse summer cohort of Emerging Artists. The Intiman Emerging Artists are 70% people of color and 60% identified as female. More on the program in the reflections below.

The Vera Project, 2006 Pooled Fund Grant Award Winner, led us on a tour of their concert and arts creation space for young people that our grant helped to fund. The Vera Project provides classes, camps and working space for teen and young adult artists to create visual art and music.

Seattle Shakespeare Company, 2011 Pooled Fund Grant Winner, led a discussion about their touring productions our grant funded, which help bring Shakespeare to life for high school students across Washington State – some of whom have never before seen live theater.

Read post-event reflections from two WA Women’s Foundation members below.

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