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:

Students on Educational Tour, near The Wing.JPG

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. 

 

YBB Pic 2

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

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Strategic Planning

Rainier Club

by Beth McCaw, President

This year marks the end point of our current strategic plan and thus, brings an opportunity for our Board of Directors to establish new goals and objectives for WA Women’s Foundation.  Because WA Women’s Foundation is your Foundation, we will be asking you to help us with our planning process.  Before doing so, I wanted to report on our progress against our current plan.

When I joined the staff in September 2014, we had just begun the implementation of our 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, which was developed under the leadership of my predecessor. Our strategic plan has three goals:

  • Increase financial strength and sustainability;
  • Engage more women in philanthropy and leadership; and
  • Build our institutional knowledge or community needs and our capacity to respond to them.

To increase financial strength and sustainability, we set a goal of maintaining a solid financial position, now and in the future.  Strategies for doing so included managing our operations in a cost-effective and efficient manner and broadening the base of fundraising support for the Annual Fund and sponsorships.  On the operations side, we performed better than budget in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, much of our success was due to your generous support of our 20th Anniversary Annual Fund Campaign, which exceeded goal by more than $40,000. Did you know?  Members’ $500 annual contribution toward operations covers less than 38% of our operating costs?  The rest is paid for by the Annual Fund, a payout from our endowment and reserves, and, to a very small extent, corporate sponsorships.

In order to engage more women in philanthropy and leadership, we made a commitment to maintain high-quality programming narrowly focused on philanthropy and leadership.  We host more than 40 workshops and events each year. One of our signature events is Discovery Days, and due to the efforts of members Amy Michaels, Nicole Resch, Rosalie Gann, and our entire 2016 Discovery Days Planning Committee, last fall’s event had record attendance.  Our audiences and speakers were our most diverse ever, and this clearly was a program very relevant to its time.

In our 2013 membership survey, you told us that you wanted us to vary the timing and location of our events and programs.  Last year 43% of our events and programs were somewhere other than the 2100 Building, and this year, 2 of our 5 Pooled Fund Work Groups are meeting downtown. We also understand that you want more opportunities to network and build relationships even while working on grant making so more “social” components are being included in almost all of our programming.

We are fortunate to have a 91% member retention rate. However, the number of new members joining declined in 2015 and 2016.  As of December 31, 2016, we had 469 paid members.  Did you know?  We’ve never quite reached the 500 paid member mark.  We have, however, had $500,000 in the pooled fund for several years now, primarily due to additional gifts, including IGRs, designated by members to the pooled fund.  2017 marks the first year in which member contributions also are covering the amount of our Pooled Fund Merit Awards.  Last year, we funded those awards from operations.  Between 2010 and 2016, our cash reserves and operations funded more than $170,000 in grants (Pooled Fund, Merit Awards and Partner Grants).

While the number of members participating on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee has declined the past two years, we are seeing growth in participation on the Partner Grant Committees and increased civic engagement and leadership by those Committee members.  Members of last fall’s Diversity Partner Grant Committee continue to personally contribute and raise funds for TEACH, a higher education program run by the Black Prisoners Caucus at Clallam Bay Correction Center.  Members also are engaged in ongoing advocacy in support of Washington CAN’s efforts to reform the Legal Financial Obligations and parole systems in Washington state.

In order to build our institutional knowledge of community needs and our capacity to respond to them, we are looking for opportunities to build new partnerships and deeper relationships with other philanthropic organizations.  Last fall, we partnered with the Social Justice Fund for the first time, and this fall, we partnering again with Women’s Funding Alliance. We also are participating in the Central Washington Conference for the Greater Good in Yakima next week. I will be meeting with Yakima nonprofit leaders and well as women from the Yakima area who are interested in collective grant making, trying to extend our reach into Eastern Washington.

We also have increased our engagement with our own network – the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network.  Board members Laura Midgely and Kathy Edwards joined me in presenting at the Network’s National Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, last month.  Colleen Willoughby was on a plenary panel and member Jackie Bezos gave the keynote on the first evening of the conference. Board member Bo Lee and former Board member Alison Wilson also attended. Did you know? Washington Women’s Foundation is the oldest collective grant making organization in the country and while we are still leading in terms of dollars granted each year, many of the other organizations within the Network have memberships very close to the size of ours.

Beyond the goals of our strategic plan, it’s important to note that all together collective giving and grant making organizations are having an impact on women’s philanthropy, which has now been studied and documented by researchers at The Center on Philanthropy at the University of Indiana.  We are achieving the vision originally set for us by our founders – to change the course of women’s philanthropy through the power of collective giving. Our own data support the conclusion that the collective giving model of Washington Women’s Foundation has changed the course of women’s philanthropy over the past 20+ years.

So what comes next? This is the question that our Board of Directors is considering as we begin working on our next strategic plan and as this conversation begins, we hope to hear from you. We are planning on sending a few short surveys to the full membership to better understand what more you want to learn, what experiences and opportunities you hope WA Women’s Foundation will make possible for you, and what relationships and networks are important for you to build to support your philanthropy and community engagement. 

Two decades ago, our founders saw an opportunity to create something new – the result was an innovative, inclusive model of women-powered philanthropy. Now that we’ve become a model for others around the country, how can we challenge ourselves – and others – to up our game? Thank you for your membership and thank you for helping us continue to move boldly forward.

Final 15: Pooled Fund Grants 2017

We’re excited to share another update in the Pooled Fund grant making process! Over 60 members have selected 15 Washington State not-for-profits to receive site visits.

Below are this year’s Final 15 organizations:

ARTS & CULTURE

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.

The Seattle Globalist: 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.

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

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.

Parenting in Prison: Evaluating an Intervention for Incarcerated Mothers and their Infants (a project of UW Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences): To improve parenting capacity of incarcerated mothers and strengthening the mother-child attachment to promote positive developmental outcomes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


10 Organizations To Consider for Individual Support

The following organizations submitted full proposals for consideration in the Pooled Fund Grant process. Though these organizations did not advance to receive Site Visits, we hope that you will consider supporting them individually. A great way to increase your impact is by donating through Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig campaign on May 10.

  • Intiman Theatre: To challenge the notion that the American theater 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.
  • ProForum: To forge creative alliances with diverse communities, bring inspiring film making to new audiences and make the art of film making an integral part of social change through Seattle’s only Social Justice Film Festival.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Room One: To address a primary barrier to financial stability and family well being in the Methow Valley by creating a collaboratively developed childcare center that integrates wrap-around support for families.
  • 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.

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.

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 

Member Experiences: Deep Dive into Leadership

In fall 2016, 12 WA Women’s Foundation members signed up for our pilot “Leadership Institute” series. The Leadership Institute provided a “deep dive” into leadership training in the style of WA Women’s hallmark grant making curriculum – with hands-on, cohort-based, experiential learning.

WA Women’s Foundation member Janet Boguch led our inaugural Leadership Institute on the topic of “Leading Greatly.” The curriculum was based on Dr. Brene Brown’s research and books Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong. Click here to see Brene Brown’s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability.”Participants worked on connection, courage, vulnerability and what it takes to live a “wholehearted life” as a leader, parent, friend and person in the world.

Scroll down to read from two of these participants, Elizabeth Curtiss and Liz McGrath, about their experiences.

Continue reading

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 

Discovery Days Recap: Viewing Philanthropy Through A New Lens

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation

“A mind that has expanded to the next dimension, can never go back.” C. Davida Ingram closed the first session of Discovery Days this year with this quote from one of her mentors. The quote describes the hallmark of participation at Washington Women’s Foundation – individual members become changed by new ideas and by each other. We push each other to think beyond our current perspectives.

If you are planning to serve on the 2017 Pooled Fund Grant Committee, you are probably wondering how you can take what you learned at Discovery Days 2016 and apply it to our grant making. We believe at Washington Women’s Foundation that the various perspectives that we collectively bring to our grant making makes the process better. Your perspective is the lens through which you view the world. As Sue Sherbrooke, the retired CEO of the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County, once told me, “If you only have one lens in your camera bag, then you’re viewing the world in only one way.” If you and five other women have different lenses in your camera bags, then together, you are able to look at the world in several different ways.

As a woman and the mother of a young girl, I have often thought about my philanthropy through a gender lens. How do girls experience certain situations as compared to boys? Which interventions work better for girls? Is an organization tracking outcome data based upon gender? However, this type of thinking is limited – it doesn’t acknowledge the intersectionality of gender, race and class – or any other factors, such as sexual orientation. So, with more lenses in my camera bag after Discovery Days, I instead might ask, “How do working class girls of color experience certain situations as compared to working class white girls?”

Discovery Days gave me these additional lenses through which to evaluate the philanthropic choices I make, and the Work Groups of our Pooled Fund Grant Committee can also choose to do their work with “more lenses in their camera bag.” With different lenses, here are some different questions you might ask:

  • Does the work described in the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or proposal interrupt or perpetuate privilege? Ralina Joseph defined “privilege” as “a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” Ms. Ingram told us that there is a reciprocal relationship between inequity and privilege. “Unless you interrupt privilege, you can’t achieve equity.” So another question to ask might be: does the work described in the LOI or proposal advance equity or increase inequity? 
  • What history, systems, processes and practices are at play in creating the issues described in the LOI or proposal? Is the organization working “upstream” to address systemic or institutional racism? Ralina Joseph defined “institutional racism” as “the policies, practices and procedures that save the very best for white people and exclude people of color.” These policies, practices and procedures operate to my advantage, as a white women, and also give me immunity. Is this pattern being perpetuated or dismantled by the work of the organization?
  • Is the work described in the LOI or proposal addressing symptoms or the root cause of a problem or set of problems? For example, a food pantry addresses hunger but not the root causes of hunger. One is not necessarily better than the other. Just know how to distinguish between the two so you can decide strategically what you would like to fund.
  • Is the “solution” to the “problem” described in the LOI or proposal paternalistic or chauvinistic? Deconstruct what it means to “help” a community. Ingram cautions that if we are uncomfortable with proposals that involve community activism or organizing, then our philanthropic approach will likely be considered questionable from a community level.
  • When on a site visit, are you only speaking with white Board and staff leaders when the organization being visited primarily serves people of color? Are these white leaders defining the issues as well as creating the solutions for people of color? Where are the voices of color within the leadership of the organization? As Dr. Megan Bang asked us, “Are you giving the community the power and opportunity to tell its own story?”
  • What are the power dynamics in the room? Be aware of how you use your privilege – from taking up too much emotional space/airtime to disengaging.
  • What language am I using and does it perpetuate stereotypes, biases or harm? Mary Flowers recently asked a group of funders, “Would you ever call your own child at-risk?” How would it impact your child if every program or activity she participated in was described, repeatedly, as being for “at-risk youth” or “children in need”?
  • Who is part of our conversation? When you enter a room, notice who is not there and think about how we can change who participates next year. When you review LOIs, notice who has not applied and think about how to change that next year.
  • Does our process enable you to create authentic, mutual relationships? If not, what do we need to change? As Valerie Curtis-Newton said, “If we knew more about each other, we’d be better to each other.” The key phrase here is “each other.”

Whether you are serving on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee or not, you may still want to continue this work. What can you do? Ms. Ingram shared these suggestions for those of us just starting the journey:

  • Take this work on with a sense of urgency. Change may be slow but it should be approached with intentionality and rigor.
  • Think and reflect deeply about your privilege – whether is it class, race, education, ability, sexual orientation – and also how you have been acculturated into racism.
  • Don’t assume a universal subjectivity with women of color. A white woman and a Black woman don’t experience things (including sexism) in the same way just because they’re both women.  A Black’s woman’s experience of misogyny is experienced through her race as well as her gender.
  • Use your place at the equity table around gender to bring race into the conversation. If, as a white woman, you are given a “place at the table” to create “gender diversity,” take the opportunity to also bring race into the conversation. As a white woman, I don’t represent all white women and I certainly don’t represent women of color. But if I’m given an opportunity to show up as a woman, then I’m going to ask challenging questions about race as well as gender.
  • Participate in ongoing trainings about implicit bias. WA Women’s Foundation plans to offer more opportunities in the new year, but there are many classes and workshops currently available in the Seattle area. Some of your fellow members are already engaged, so talk to them or contact the office if you need suggestions.

On the second day of Discovery Days, Valerie Curtis-Newton issued a challenge to us that still rings in my head: “The end of racism is in the hands of white people. The end of homophobia is in the hands of straight people. When will conversation end, and the ‘doing’ begin?”

Twenty-one years ago, our founders created a new model of women-powered philanthropy, rooted in equality and community. What if our philanthropy was rooted in equity and our community was expanded to include those not currently in the conversation? We have the power to begin doing right now. The challenge is ours to accept.


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

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