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GRANTMAKING APPROACH

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2015: Reaching Women and Girls Through Community-Based Solutions

2015: Reaching Women and Girls Through Community-Based Solutions

Key

Community Districts with 20% or more women and children living in poverty

Number of Women Served by Grantee Partners by Community District

  • < 100 Women
  • 100 – 399 Women
  • 400 – 1,999 Women

The New York Women’s Foundation funds women leaders building solutions in their communities. Having distributed $7.6 million in 2016, The New York Women’s Foundation’s grantmaking places it at the top women’s foundations in the U.S., and second in the world. We boldly invest in organizations and leaders that strive for justice, economic security, safety, and health for women and families. We prioritize organizations that promote women’s leadership, gender equity, and asset-based community approaches. The Foundation goes beyond funding to deliver the resources and networking opportunities that emerging organizations and leaders need in order to continue to progress and succeed. We practice participatory grantmaking—guidance for grantmaking comes directly from the communities to be supported; and grantmaking is principally carried out by volunteer activists. Our approach provides diverse stakeholders with a deep, first-hand knowledge of the key issues and players, and continually reinforces their determination to promote success.   

Our grantmaking is driven by the following beliefs and values:
  • Grantees are partners and knowledgeable experts.
  • Holistic and sustainable solutions come from within the community.
  • Women are authors of their lives and change makers in their communities.
  • A participatory approach—between community members, leaders, and funders—creates opportunities for local solutions and long-lasting change.
  • Investment across the lifespan of women increases self-suciency.
  • Long term investment in grantee partners facilitates organizational sustainability.

Rooted in principles of inclusiveness and empowerment, decision-making at The Foundation is drawn from an alliance comprising women of all backgrounds and means. Through our Grants Advisory Committee, we engage volunteers by training them in activism and philanthropy to build and sustain women’s progress.

The Foundation invests to remove barriers and create opportunities in the following focus areas: Economic Security; Anti-Violence and Safety; and Health, Sexual Rights, and Reproductive Justice; and Capacity Building for Grantee Partners. We are keenly aware that these focus areas are often inextricably linked through the lived experiences of girls, women, and gender-fluid individuals.

  • Economic Security
  • Anti-Violence & Safety
  • Health, Sexual Rights & Reproductive Justice
  • Capacity Building for Grantee Partners

Economic Security

The New York Women’s Foundation supports organizations and programs that promote economic well-being and independence of women, girls, and gender fluid individuals living at or below the poverty level by providing greater access to education, job training, employment, business development/entrepreneurship, asset building, and work supports for individuals while also working to achieve economic justice.

GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT

Jessica credits Start Small. Think Big. for building her confidence. “This is the first place that has said, ‘Let’s partner with you. We value what you bring to the table,” says Jessica. “Being low-income and dealing with a lot of social services can be disheartening because people are unkind.”

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Jessica Spaulding

The Harlem Chocolate Factory
READ Jessica Spaulding'S STORY

Start Small. Think Big.

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“This is the first place that has said, ‘Let’s partner with you. We value what you bring to the table.”

Jessica Spaulding
The Harlem Chocolate Factory

Start Small. Think Big. provides a highly curated blend of one-on-one financial management and legal services to low-income women, immigrant and minority entrepreneurs in NYC’s most underserved communities that equips them with a solid foundation on which to create jobs and build wealth through entrepreneurship.

At just nine years old, Jessica started making candy at home with her family in Harlem. She always dreamt of running her own artisanal chocolate business that would incorporate the traditional flavors of her neighborhood. Her first attempt, right after college, was unsuccessful, which she attributes to a lack of understanding about marketing and business financial management. Jessica moved on to another job, yet her long-cherished dream of becoming an entrepreneur clung to her. But, as a single mother of two young children, she could not afford the risk of failure this time around and sought guidance from various business organizations.

In May 2015, Jessica received pro bono legal assistance from Start Small Think Big. She was matched with a team of lawyers who helped her create a business plan and advised her on intellectual property issues. In addition, her attorney suggested that Jessica make chocolate samples for the judges at the New York StartUp! Business Plan Competition. Delicious samples, a robust entrepreneurial spirit, and solid business counsel gave Jessica the edge she needed to win the competition and the $15,000 grand prize! The prize gave her the financial cushion to increase production capacity and grow the Harlem Chocolate Factory into the business that it is today.

Jessica credits Start Small Think Big for building her confidence. “This is the first place that has said, ‘Let’s partner with you. We value what you bring to the table,” says Jessica. “Being low-income and dealing with a lot of social services, it can be disheartening because people are unkind.”

Jessica has received an abundance of corporate orders after her chocolates sold out at Start Small Think Big’s annual party. Word has spread about her chocolate business through various marketing opportunities provided by Start Small Think Big and other organizations. Jessica Spaulding’s dream of owning a successful chocolate business has certainly come true!

Anti-Violence & Safety

The New York Women’s Foundation provides resources to support organizations that address the immediate needs of women, girls, and gender-fluid individuals who suffer or have suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as programs that seek the root causes of genderbased violence in order to create lasting changes in institutions and beliefs that perpetuate genderbased violence. Genderbased violence can include intimate partner violence, sexual assault, the trafficking of women and minors, cyberstalking, and other forms of cyberviolence, gun violence, and elder abuse and The Foundation supports work in prevention, intervention, and/or advocacy and policy change.

GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT

When Denesia came to Day One at the Bronx Family Justice Center, she received extensive advocacy support enabling her to regain her job, have her abusive former partner arrested, and get an order of protection put in place.

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Denesia

Bronx Family Justice Center
READ Denesia'S STORY

Day One New York, Inc

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Denesia
Bronx Family Justice Center

Day One New York, Inc. partners with NYC youth to end dating abuse and domestic violence through community education, supportive services, legal advocacy and leadership development.

When Denesia fell in love at age 21, she was confident that her relationship would blossom into a life-long commitment. She imagined a new future unfolding before her, nourished by a supportive partnership. But, Denesia’s new-found happiness was short-lived. Her partner was prone to verbal and physical abuse, which escalated over time. Denesia’s days and nights became filled with fear.

In the confusion created by financial dependency and the persistent threat of violence, Denesia succumbed to her boyfriend’s demands which included engaging in sexual relations for money, in order to contribute toward rent and household goods. No matter what Denesia did to please her partner, the violence and abuse continued to escalate.  When she finally attempted to escape the relationship, he began to stalk her. Due to his stalking, Denesia lost her job for missing a shift.

One day her boyfriend appeared at her home, violently banged on the door, and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t let him in. When she complied, he physically assaulted her and stole her money, laptop and clothing.  After that, Denesia slept on various friends’ couches, too afraid to be alone at home.

When Denesia came to Day One at the Bronx Family Justice Center, she received extensive advocacy support enabling her to regain her job, have her former partner arrested, and get an order of protection put in place. With help from Day One’s social worker and attorney, she has also received financial compensation from the Office of Victim Services for the loss of essential personal property. Day One assisted Denesia in securing a domestic violence priority with the NYC Housing Authority. As she awaits an apartment, Denesia is taking steps to rebuild a secure foundation for her life.

Health, Sexual Rights & Reproductive Justice

The New York Women’s Foundation recognizes health as a fundamental right and necessity for a woman to achieve and sustain complete mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well–being. A core value of Foundation funding in this area is that as women, girls and transgender individuals become informed about and take control of their health, they are better able to advocate on behalf of themselves and their families and communities. Preference is given to groups that emphasize peer education and outreach, organizing, advocacy, and/or policy work, in addition to direct services. Work may fall in the area of prevention, intervention, and/or advocacy and policy change.

GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT

Before becoming involved with the anti-shackling campaign, Miyhosi did not see herself as an advocate. Reflecting on the significance of the legislative victory and her role in it, Miyhosi says, “This win feels great. I feel liberated and inspired…I see myself continuing to advocate for the rights of women and children, because it’s important.”

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Miyhosi

Correctional Association of New York
READ Miyhosi'S STORY

Correctional Association of New York

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“This win feels great. I feel liberated and inspired…I see myself continuing to advocate for the rights of women and children, because it’s important.”

Miyhosi

Correctional Association of New York advocates for a more humane and effective criminal justice system through prison monitoring, research, public education, leadership training, coalition building and policy advocacy.

In 2010, 20-year old Miyhosi was pregnant, completing her sentence in a New York prison, and was shackled. Shackling is a method of restraining incarcerated individuals with heavy chains around the ankles and wrists. Not only dehumanizing, shackling is highly dangerous for pregnant women. It increases the risk of blood clots as well as miscarriages due to potential falls and blood flow restriction and can create psychological and physical harm to a mother giving birth while handcuffed to a hospital bed.

Miyhosi was constantly falling while pregnant and shackled.  At the time, she was angry about the risk of harm to herself and her baby, but she was too afraid to voice her concern for fear of negative repercussions.

While the Correctional Association of New York (CA) and its allies successfully pressed New York State in 2009 to pass a law that prohibits the shackling of pregnant women on the way to the hospital to give birth, during recovery after birth, and during transport back from the hospital post-delivery, CA learned that the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision was continuing to shackle women in violation of the 2009 law.

Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project conducted an outreach campaign to get the stories behind the violations of the 2009 law with Miyhosi as a member of a core group of courageous women who provided a public face to the issue.

In December 2015, Governor Cuomo signed the Anti-Shackling Bill which fortifies the 2009 law banning the shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth, and expands protections to women throughout their pregnancies and eight weeks postpartum.

Before becoming involved with the anti-shackling campaign, Miyhosi did not see herself as an advocate. Reflecting on the significance of the legislative victory and her role in it, Miyhosi says, “This win feels great. I feel liberated and inspired… I see myself continuing to advocate for the rights of women and children, because it’s important.”

Miyhosi currently works as a program assistant at an organization that operates a broad range of treatment, educational, and vocational services for people involved in criminal justice system. She is also involved in advocacy efforts to improve access to college education for incarcerated individuals as well as those released. She plans to resume her own college education. “Professionally, right now I want to be a social worker, but I also want to be involved with policy change and advocacy and own my own business. I want a lot out of this world. And I’m just getting started.”

 

Capacity Building for Grantee Partners

As an early funder of emerging, women-led, community-based nonprofits, The Foundation is fiercely committed to ensuring our grantee partners’ programmatic and organizational sustainability, as well as strengthening the leadership of their staff at all levels. Our capacity building support enables one-on-one consulting services and cohort learning opportunities for our grantee partners. In addition, grantee partners may apply for individual capacity-building grants to pursue customized technical assistance services from consultants of their choosing.

 

There are four key components to the New York Women’s Foundation capacity building strategy:

  • Organizational Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Program Sustainability and Innovation
  • Advancing Gender and Racial Equity

 

GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT

Beverly is an experienced thought leader, advocate, and national organizer with nearly three decades of experience working in social justice movements.

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Beverly Tillery

Anti-Violence Project (AVP)
READ Beverly Tillery'S STORY

Anti-Violence Project (AVP)

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“The Foundation enrolled me in a training program for emerging women leaders of color that was nothing less than lifesaving.”

Beverly Tillery
Anti-Violence Project (AVP)

Anti-Violence Project works to address and end all forms of violence through organizing and education and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy. 

The New York Women’s Foundation was the first philanthropic institution to provide AVP with significant, sustained funding support. The Foundation has been particularly helpful in supporting the development of new and appropriate leadership for AVP.

The Foundation enrolled me in a training program for emerging women leaders of color that was nothing less than lifesaving.  It equipped me to think strategically about the challenges that I was encountering as AVP’s first black female executive director. It provided me with an invaluable support network of fierce fellow women leaders and it clarified the need to focus on self-care as we negotiate the isolation and stresses of simultaneously juggling service, advocacy, and management tasks while also defending our positions as women of color.     

The Foundation’s grants have helped us to proactively reach out to young trans individuals and LGBTQ women of color; helped us to educate our own board and staff about the particular situations and potential of those populations; and helped us raise consciousness within the organizations with which we regularly collaborate. Perhaps most importantly, their support has allowed us to begin nurturing a robust cohort of young leaders within those two populations—to tap the authentic talents and perspectives that AVP so vitally needs for its ongoing progress.       

The connections between leadership development and systemic change are inseparable. You can’t change deeply imbedded societal views and structures without supporting the individual leaders best positioned to bring about those changes.  You can’t separate structural progress from individual and institutional progress.  And no one understands those interrelationships better than The New York Women’s Foundation.