Ms. Foundation for Women
The Ms. Foundation for Women is the leading national social justice foundation committed to building women’s power to ignite change. Every day, it helps over 150 grassroots organizations across the US fight for changes like good paying jobs, reproductive health, ending violence against women and girls, and the inclusion of women at decision-making tables.
By investing in social justice trailblazers—especially women from low-income communities and communities of color most affected by injustice—it works for a nation in which power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, or any other factor. The Ms. Foundation delivers funding, leadership development and capacity building and communications support to create change that benefits women, families and communities. Since 1973, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $54 million and influenced other funders to support solutions from the ground up. ms.foundation.org
Principal StaffExecutive Office:
Anika Rahman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Susan Wefald, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Beatrice Abreu, Executive Assistant to President and CEO, Sara K. Gould
Lulu Roller, Human Relations Generalist
Wendell Snipes, Operations Assistant
Ina Clark, Vice President, Development
Sandra Perez, Senior Development Officer
Adriana Londono, Director of Major Gifts
Leslie Mackrell, Senior Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer
Sunny Daly, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager
Walid Haddad, Development Database Administrator
Irene Xanthoudakis, Writer/Researcher
Makeba Barrett, Development Assistant
Barbara Becker, Interim Vice President, Communications
Irene Schneeweis, Senior Communications Manager
Rob Johnston, Manager of Online Communications and Marketing
Kasia Gladki, Communications Associate
Patricia Eng, Vice President, Program
Monique Hoeflinger, Senior Program Officer
Sangeeta Budhiraja, Program Officer
A. Caroline Hotaling, Program Officer
Ellen Liu, Program Officer
Mitsuko Ogawa, Grants Administrator
Natalie Sullivan, Program Associate
Elaine Hin, Program Associate
Brenna Lynch, Program Associate
Michelle Holder, Director of Finance
Marlene Martinez, Accounting Manager
Areas of Expertise:Advancing Women's Leadership, Domestic and Workplace Violence, Awareness & Education, Employment & Unemployment, Leadership in Civil Society, HIV/AIDS, Diversity & Inclusion, Inclusion, Entrepreneurship & Small Business Development, Legal Issues, Population & Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health, Sexuality & Gender, Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship, Women's Movements, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Women's & Girls' Leadership
Projects & Campaigns
The Ms. Foundation for Women is dedicated to building women's collective power to ignite change. We seek opportunities to both proactively and reactively inform public policy, and obtain policy wins at the local, state, tribal and national level, with the ultimate goal of transforming the systems that govern women's lives.
We also aim to change the language, beliefs and behaviors that continue to hold women's oppression in place-particularly at the intersection of race, class and gender-and to shift public debate on key issues so that the perspectives of, and impact on, low income women and women of color are visible and addressed.
We support both cross-issue organizing and organizing within four broad areas of impact:
Reproductive Justice organizing and advocacy
Sexuality education organizing and advocacy
Women and HIV/AIDS policy advocacy and organizational capacity building
Access to health care coverage
Community-based strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and violence against women and LGBTQ people
Strategies to engage men and boys in ending violence
Public education and media literacy
Organizing for better wages and working conditions, especially in female dominated sectors
Paid leave (including paid sick days and paid family leave)
Affordable, accessible quality child care
Access to health care coverage
Building the infrastructure of organizations working for a progressive vision of democracy
Amplifying the voices of women of color, with a special emphasis on the Gulf South
Just immigration and refugee policies
Criminal Justice reform
Examples of funding initiatives across these broad and interconnected issue areas include:
Katrina Women's Response Fund: The Ms. Foundation responded immediately to the destruction and massive displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina by creating the Katrina Women's Response Fund. The Fund provides strategic support to meet the immediate needs of women of color and low-income women in the Gulf Coast region and ensure that their leadership and priorities are central in both short and long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts. By making grants to organizations throughout the region, the Katrina Women's Response Fund invests in the crucial infrastructure that promotes the health, safety, and economic well-being of women, their families and communities.
The Women and AIDS Fund: The Ms. Foundation for Women created the Women and AIDS Fund (WAF)to support organizations that advocate for policies and services that meet the needs of women with HIV/AIDS. WAF remains the only national fund that supports advocacy and self-determination by and for women living with this disease. By providing grants, technical assistance and networking opportunities to community-based organizations led by and for women who are HIV-positive, we contribute to the development of model approaches for women's HIV/AIDS advocacy that can be shared across the country. Our work has also helped create a national network of HIV-positive infected and affected women, called the National Women and AIDS Collective (NWAC), who strive to influence the ways in which policies are determined at the federal level.
The Reproductive Rights Coalition and Organizing Fund: The Ms. Foundation for Women's Reproductive Rights Coalition and Organizing Fund (RRCOF) has been a strong, responsive resource for state reproductive rights organizations across the United States since 1989. RRCOF provides grantmaking, technical assistance, and networking activities to strengthen state-level infrastructures and build critical, broad-based support for reproductive rights. RRCOF aims to increase the capacity of state and local reproductive rights organizations so that they can: 1) expand and mobilize their base of support; 2) reach a broader and more diverse audience; 3) frame reproductive rights and health in a broader health and social justice context; and 4) more effectively advocate for positive - and avert restrictive - reproductive health policies and programs.
Join our movement for social justice and help to bring the experience and solutions of women and girls to the challenging issues that impact women and their communities most. Learn more about how you can show your support.
Events and Opportunities
The Gloria Awards: A National Salute to Women of Vision
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Reports & Resources
Stir It UP: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy. Written by activist and trainer Rinku Sen, this publication examines the work of economic justice organizations funded by the Ms. Foundation and applies the lessons they learned to other community organizations. Sen also provides models and tools that any organization can use to successfully create social change and influence public policy.
Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies that Work for All of Us . Most Americans believe a job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it. Raise The Floor shows us how we can translate that belief into reality by raising the minimum wage. In addition to telling workers' stories, presenting original data, and proposing comprehensive policies, Raise The Floor spotlights businesses large and small that demonstrate how good wages are good business-in good economic times and bad.
Kitchen Table Entrepreneurs: How Eleven Women Escaped Poverty and Became Their Own Bosses. This publication tells the inspirational stories of eleven low-income women who have marshaled the creative energy, confidence, and capital necessary to start their own small businesses. These women, who have used their entrepreneurial skills as a route out of poverty, give an American face to an economic empowerment tool that has enjoyed great success in developing countries.
Ms. Foundation. 2009. Creating Connections, Igniting Change: Annual Report 2007-2008.
Ms. Foundation. 2009. Building Momentum to Sustain Social Change: Evaluation of the Katrina Women's Response Fund.
Two years into what was characterized as a recovery, the latest unemployment numbers continue to paint a dire picture for women. Last week, Spotlight on Poverty, an anti-poverty initiative led by a diverse group of foundations, policymakers and advocates, posted the following webcast interview with Ms. Foundation President and CEO Anika Rahman, who discusses the ongoing relevance of the foundation's spring poll's findings and what she and growing numbers of people are calling a "womancession."
View the video here.
Despite the real dangers they face, the women of Haiti are fighting back, organizing to protect their own safety: they are distributing rape whistles in the camps, and setting up committees to address the needs of women.
A congressional briefing to release the findings of a major new poll showing that a majority of Americans believe the government should play a larger role in shaping our economy and creating jobs.
In her short tenure as First Lady, Mrs. Obama has demonstrated her ability to speak to our nation's challenges with sensitivity and depth. Her new campaign on childhood obesity, Let's Move!, will improve the wellbeing of girls, and will complement and bolster efforts to empower girls in creating a healthy society.
"It is crucial to provide girls with the resources and role models to encourage them to share their voices, dream big, and envision themselves as tomorrow's leaders," said Joyce M. Roché, President & Chief Executive Officer of Girls Inc. "Mrs. Obama has achieved at the highest levels of education and law and demonstrates a heartfelt commitment to ensuring that all of our nation's children have the opportunity to realize their full potential. We greatly look forward to the honor of working with her on issues that affect girls, their families, and their communities."
"Exposing our young people to new ideas, introducing them to the larger world beyond their own life experiences, and inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow is of paramount importance and I am pleased to serve as Honorary Board Chair of Girls Inc.," said First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mrs. Obama is the tenth First Lady to serve in this role since 1953, when First Lady Mamie Eisenhower became the first Honorary Board Chair of Girls Inc.
Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier
28 January 2010
Transcript (with errors)
Bret Baier: Football star who has become the pride of Florida is at the center of a controversy that has nothing to do with wins and losses. Correspondent Shannon Bream reports on a political stalemate set to be made on the biggest sports day of the year."
Shannon Bream: The biggest showdown on Super Bowl Sunday may not be on the field but on the airwaves. As pro choice groups call on CBS to drop a pro life featuring college football superstar Tim Tebow and his mother Pam. It's funded by the Christian organization Focus on the Family.
Jim Daly, Focus on the Family President: And we know what the ad is and we thought this'll be great for the country to see. We didn't expect the level of controversy especially from people that haven't seen the ad.
Shannon Bream: The ad will tell the story of Pam Tebow's decision not to have an abortion while pregnant with Tim. A number of women's groups say they not only object to the ad but also to the group behind it. The National Organization for Women calls Focus on the Family anti-woman and says the ad puts women's health at risk by quote "promoting ideology over medicine." The Women's Media Center says Focus on the Family is anti-equality and divisive. Other groups are equally wary.
Kierra Johnson, Choice USA [Ms. Foundation for Women grantee]: "They're known to spew hate and be very divisive and I'm I have no doubt that will come through and I don't believe that it has a place, again, this un American hate doesn't have a place in this all American past time."
Shannon Bream: Catholic organizations tried to air a pro life commercial during last year's Super Bowl. It was rejected by NBC which reportedly told the groups it did not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. This year CBS is standing by its decision to air the spot featuring the Tebows. In a statement the network says quote "At CBS our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that insures all ads on all sides of an issue are appropriate for air. We will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups..."
Tim Tebow, U of Florida Quarterback: Some people won't agree with.
You know I think we can always bound to respect that and I stand up for what I believe, and I'm never, you know shy about that.
Shannon Bream: The Women's Media Center says CDS is risking alienating viewers and the dollars they would spend with other CBS advertisers. But conservative groups like Concerned Women for America say they want to know why their liberal counterparts haven't raised objections to CBS programs that feature sexually graphic or misogynist to contact. In Washington Shannon Bream Fox News.
18 August 2009
Remember the concept of “sisterhood”? That quaint relic of an idea that women owed it to other women to crash through ceilings and navigate a male world? It just might be taking new root in a most unexpected place — among women with money. There are more women controlling more wealth in the U.S. than ever before. (Of those in the wealthiest tier of the country — defined by the I.R.S. as individuals with assets of at least $1.5 million — 43 percent are women.) And unlike the women who preceded them — old-school patrons who gave to the museum and the symphony and their dead husbands’ alma maters — these givers are more likely to use their wealth deliberately and systematically to aid women in need.
To appreciate the magnitude of this change, go back 150 years or so to the women’s suffrage movement. Back to when one of its leaders, Matilda Joslyn Gage, lamented: “We have yet to hear of a woman of wealth who has left anything for the enfranchisement of her sex. Almost every daily paper heralds the fact of some large bequest to colleges, churches and charities by rich women, but it is proverbial that they never remember the woman suffrage movement that underlies in importance all others.”
Then jump forward to the present: globally, more than 145 funds, with assets of nearly half a billion dollars, exist to improve the lives of women and girls. Many focus their efforts domestically; about a third work internationally. Not one existed in 1972 when the Ms. Foundation, the first national fund for and by women, was established. Collectively they now form the Women’s Funding Network and have plans to increase their joint coffers by another billion dollars by 2018, in concert with a drive called Women Moving Millions, which aims to encourage individuals, mostly women, to donate $1 million or more. The goal was to raise $150 million in three years, a target exceeded this spring by $30 million.
Women Moving Millions began with the literal sisterhood of Helen LaKelly Hunt and Swanee Hunt. Daughters of the legendary oilman H. L. Hunt, they were raised “like Southern belles,” Helen says — taught that money was something a woman “shouldn’t worry her pretty little head about.” As adults they discovered the power of philanthropy, and about three years ago Swanee (whose own nonbelle career includes years as ambassador to Austria and a lectureship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she teaches that gender parity is the way to ensure peace and rebuild societies) called Helen with an offer. “She said she was going to leave me a lot of money in her will,” Helen says, “but I might die first and ruin the surprise, so why doesn’t she give it to me now.” Swanee’s $6 million, and $4 million more from Helen, became the initial pledges to the campaign.
Helen was motivated in part by her own historical research. While writing her doctoral thesis on the origins of feminism, she pieced together the evidence that wealthy women sat on the sidelines during the fight for the right to vote. “Women gave heart, mind, body, intellect, will, blood, sweat and tears, but not their dollars,” she says. “Women didn’t fund suffrage; now women are funding women. That’s historic.”
Some of these new-style philanthropists have familiar names. Oprah comes to mind, as do Abigail Disney, a grandniece of Walt’s, who, with her husband, Pierre Hauser, created the Daphne Foundation, in 1991; and Jennifer Buffett, daughter-in-law of Warren, who is co-chairman of the NoVo Foundation with her husband, Peter; both give much of their money to programs that support low-income women and girls. But most names are not as well known — like Kayrita M. Anderson, the daughter of a housecleaner, whose family foundation has given more than $2 million to help stop child prostitution. Or Jacki Zehner, the first female trader to become a partner at Goldman Sachs and whose family foundation pledged a million to the W.M.M. campaign.
In general, women give differently than men. They are less likely to want their names on things and more likely to give as part of drives (large ones, like Women Moving Millions, and smaller ones, like living-room “giving circles”) that include other women. And they tend to spotlight different causes (women’s health, microfinancing of businesses owned by women) and for different reasons. A study of more than 10,000 large donors by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University suggests that while men describe their giving as practical — filling in the gaps that government can’t or won’t — women describe theirs as emotional, an obligation to help those with less.
Behind all this giving lies the theory that helping women and children is the way to change the planet. “Seventy percent of people living in poverty around the world are women and children,” says Christine Grumm, president and C.E.O. of the Women’s Funding Network. “If women have a roof over their heads and a home free of violence, and good and affordable health care, then so do children. In the larger picture, it’s not just about women, but entire communities. Women are the conduits through which change is made.”
What kind of change this X-linked economic paradigm will bring is still an open question. But what already seems clear is that women are finding their financing clout, and they might have found new unity to boot. “You’ve heard that old nursery rhyme?” asks Helen LaKelly Hunt. “The king is in the counting house counting all the money, the queen is in the parlor, eating bread and honey?” Not anymore, she says. Now “the queen is in there counting, too.” And she has brought a whole roomful of her friends.
Lisa Belkin is a contributing writer and the author of the Motherlode blog.
Opportunities, Grants & Fellowships
Learn more about Creating Connections: Strategies for Stronger Movements
- How do I find out about the foundation's grantmaking cycles?From time to time, the Ms. Foundation will issue an open Request for Proposals inviting all those interested and eligible to submit proposals. There are other times when we request proposals by invitation only, in order to more specifically focus our grantmaking. All open invitations will be posted on our website for public access. We will also announce open invitations by email. Sign up for email updates. ¶ The Foundation only processes solicited proposals and we are unable to respond to unsolicited proposals that are submitted.
- Who is eligible to apply?The Ms. Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations (IRS determination of 501(c)(3) status) based in and working in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories. The foundation does not fund individuals, scholarships, capital or endowment requests, fundraising events, university-based research, or government agencies.
- How do I apply?When responding to either an open request for proposal or a closed invitation, we will provide detailed instructions for completing the application process. The Ms. Foundation processes all grants through an online application system which typically consists of filling out our online application form and uploading a single PDF document that contains the actual proposal.
- Can we apply for funding in more than one area?Organizations may submit only one application for each Request for Proposal (RFP) issued. In the event that multiple areas are covered under one RFP, we welcome proposals that make connections across issues, but groups are still limited to one application. ¶ Current grantee groups are limited to one grant per year from the Foundation. Groups that already receive funding are not eligible to apply under an open RFP process until their grant cycle has ended.
- What portion of grants are awarded to first-time applicants?There is no specific percentage of grants that we award to first time applicants, but we are always interested in strong proposals from new organizations, particularly from geographic areas that have more limited access to resources. That being said, only a small percentage of proposals are typically funded under an open RFP process due to the high volume of applications and the limited amount of funds available.
- What are the requirements my organization must meet if our proposal is accepted for funding?Once an organization is selected for funding, the terms of the grant agreement include meeting the stated objectives in your original proposal, completing an interim and year end report, and participating with an external evaluator to learn about the impact of the grant. Grant checks are mailed upon receipt of an original countersigned grant agreement letter.
- Does the Ms. Foundation provide general support grants? How should we choose between general support and project support? What is preferable for Ms. and most likely to be successful? What does the Ms. Foundation look for in "General Support" applications?The Ms. Foundation typically provides two types of grants: project specific or general support. Organizations can apply for a specific project or can instead apply for a grant that supports the organization's total efforts across all areas of that organization's work. While the Ms. Foundation is looking for concrete outcomes across all its grants, we do not prioritize one type over the other, but rather this is a decision that your organization needs to make based on its own situation and needs. If your organization applies for general support, you will need to provide clear information about the overall work of the organization and how it relates to the focus area you are applying to.
- What if I can't submit my application by the stated deadline? Can I get an extension?The Ms. Foundation has tight timeframes because our goal is to distribute grant funds as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this, we must strictly enforce our application deadlines. It is imperative that applicants follow all instructions in submitting a proposal and a contact person be available during the review period to answer any questions regarding their application. ¶ With open requests for proposals, we expect large numbers of online applications. In order to avoid bottlenecks with the on-line system, we strongly encourage applicants to submit application materials well in advance of the deadline date. Please do not wait until the last minute to submit your application. The online application system automatically shuts down at a designated time, so this may mean that your application may not come through if you have not completely uploaded all documents by that time. We cannot accept applications that are delayed as a result of technical complications or other unforeseen complications. We strongly advise you to observe the application deadlines. ¶ For those submitting renewal applications, it is your responsibility to take note of and adhere to submission deadlines. Renewal proposals are generally due on or soon after the deadline for submitting progress reports (that date is generally found in your grant agreement letter).
- What is the Ms. Foundation's process for reviewing proposals?The proposal will be evaluated by a team of Ms. Foundation staff. Please bear in mind that we receive hundreds of proposals from eligible organizations, each doing very important work and bringing unique perspectives. We appreciate the time and effort that goes into putting a proposal together, and we always wish that we had more money to fund more groups. But, inevitably, we need to make hard choices, and so we want you to know that if your group is not selected, it is not because your group doesn't fit the guidelines or because it is not worthy. We evaluate the proposals as a pool, providing us with a docket or set of organizations whose work compliments one another across a variety of factors such as geography and scope of work.
- How quickly will my full application be evaluated?All open RFP processes typically provide a date by which grants are announced. The full application review process usually takes about two months (but the Foundation reserves the right to change this as needed for any program).
- Does the foundation provide feedback on proposals that are not selected for funding?Due to the high volume of grant proposals we receive, it is not possible for us to respond to requests for feedback from individual applicants. However, under certain circumstances, we may reach out to groups to provide specific feedback if we feel it would be useful for future applications.
On March 11-12, 2010, the Ms. Foundation for Women had the honor of convening an inspiring meeting on survivor-led activism on child sexual abuse prevention. In what was one of the first times survivors have been brought together to discuss child sexual abuse prevention in a social justice context, twelve activists discussed successes, challenges, and historic moments in their field. They established exciting shared visions and first steps for realizing them in this growing social justice movement.
Ms. Foundation work in US South. Study for W.K. Kellogg Foundation Women's Philanthropy and Poverty Cluster.
What We Do
NCRW is a network of leading university and community based research, policy, and advocacy centers with a growing global reach dedicated to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls. We also have a Corporate Circle comprised of senior diversity professionals from leading U.S. and global member companies and a Presidents Circle of college and university leaders who share our commitment. NCRW harnesses the collective power of its network to provide knowledge, analysis, and thought leadership on issues ranging from reducing women’s poverty to building a critical mass of women’s leadership across sectors.