As the power of women grows in society, their influence in philanthropy is simultaneously increasing. A recent study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, “How and Why Women Give 2015,” reveals that, due to significant progress toward social and economic equity with men, “women have never before had so much control over philanthropic resources.” On top of that, the world is going through an awakening about investing in the rights and well-being of women and girls like never before.With all this going on, major developments for women and philanthropy seem to be happening at every turn. Here is a review of some of the significant trends and emerging topics in women and philanthropy from 2015.
After receiving an initial grant in 2014 from the Knight News Challenge Awards, CODE2040 is getting a new grant of $1.2 million dollars from Knight to expand its programs that address the racial tech gap.This grant comes along at a time when the digital realm’s inclusion gaps are receiving more attention from funders, although racial equity has been on the radar for the Knight Foundation for many years.
On November 4, we held a webinar called Impact Giving for Women and Girls of Color, a first-of-its-kind online forum to discuss where funding is headed for this population, featuring three expert speakers on the topic: NoVo Executive Director Pamela Shifman, Scholar C. Nicole Mason, and Southern Black Rural Women’s Initiative leader Oleta Fitzgerald.It was an amazing experience. I received several emails from attendees in the afterhours, wanting to discuss the future of this movement and looking for ways to guide and coordinate efforts.
Question: If funding to support boys and men of color is a priority, with some two dozen foundations involved, why are women and girls of color not an equal priority?The fact is that few new philanthropic efforts are aimed specifically at improving the lives of girls and young women of color.
Scholars like Benjamin Friedman have demonstrated that economic growth helps drive any number of positive trends: improved human rights, better health, women’s empowerment, higher education attainment, and on and on.
Historically, though, explicit efforts to foster growth haven’t been all that high on the agenda of a philanthropic world that cares about all the things I just mentioned. In particular, funders haven’t tended to do a lot in the way of supporting entrepreneurs, whose new businesses create many of the new jobs that propel growth. Meanwhile, small business has been on the decline in the U.S. for the last decade, a trend that was greatly accelerated by the Great Recession, with new business creation plunging by 30 percent in the wake of the economic crash.
The high percentage of U.S. children living in poverty—one in five, at last count—hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. And while you’d think that would be a national scandal, this issue has just never had the political traction advocates have hoped.
Lately, though, things seem to be changing. Early childhood education is moving up on the national agenda and a new book by Robert Putnam on the deeply unequal lives of American children has received wide attention. Amid a growing debate over inequality, and also race, fresh opportunities are emerging to improve the lives of kids.
Attention to race keeps growing in the United States, and that’s true for a bunch of reasons. But, for sure, philanthropy has played a role in elevating race to the top of the national agenda.
Well before the events in Ferguson last year, a number of top foundations were already investing in new work to address racial inequities and empower leaders of color. Most notably, ten top foundations partnered with the White House in February 2014 to address the challenges facing young men of color. And nearly a year earlier, 26 foundations had come together in Chicago, pledging new work in this same area. As we’ve also reported, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched a big initiative on young men and boys of color, Forward Promise, in 2011. Looking even further back, the Open Society Foundations began its Campaign for Black Male Achievement in 2008.