Girls and young women of color are key to building a more just world—critical in shifting our spinning globe ever closer to racial, gender, climate, and economic justice. But many lack institutional safety nets, relying instead on a patchwork of formal and informal services just to survive.
The renewed rise of multiple “ism’s” (e.g., racism and authoritarianism), coupled with the plagues of white supremacy, misogyny, and patriarchy, leave these girls and young women of color increasingly vulnerable. The cascading crises of 2020 were the final straw. And philanthropy—which might have uplifted when policy did not— has dramatically under-invested in the work to protect and uplift these girls. (Research by Ms. Foundation finds that only .5% of the $66.9 billion given by foundations goes to women and girls of color—that’s just $5.48 per woman and girl of color in the US.)
Yet, there’s good news.
A few pioneering individuals and organizations have bucked these national and global trends. For years, NoVo Foundation—through Jennifer and Peter Buffet’s giving priorities—represented a major percentage of global giving for girls and young women of color. Their very acknowledgement of the massively uneven playing field, combined with profound philanthropic support and a brilliant and committed staff, enabled NoVo’s funding priorities to become a north star for those inspired to follow where they led.
NoVo and Tides have been strong partners for almost a decade, and now we’re deepening the relationship. Tides’ experience in gender lens investing and racial justice work has led NoVo to entrust us with providing a new home for the Adolescent Girls Initiative in the Tides’ Advancing Girls portfolio. As we continue to support the 200+ grantees formerly housed at NoVo and the girls and young women of color they serve, we’re broadening our mission to:
- Grow a donor network that is passionate about supporting this sector
- Advance alliances with those who share our vision of social justice
I, along with a designated team, will provide continuity as we cultivate new and dedicated funders. We plan to leverage Tides’ 45-year history in philanthropy to invite new donors to the table: individuals, corporations, and family foundations not yet focused on the needs of girls and young women of color.
Visionaries such as Dr. Monique W. Morris, for instance, are rallying significant new support to this cause. Dr. Morris is the first executive director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC), which cultivates investments for Black, Indigenous, Latina, Asian, Arab, Pacific Islander, and gender-expansive youth of color. She’s also a co-founder of the Black Girl Freedom Fund, which—along with the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign—calls for a $1 billion investment in Black girls, Fem(mes), and gender-expansive youth and their families over the next ten years.
Dr. Morris notes,
G4GC’s vision is to mobilize philanthropic resources to achieve equity and justice and to uplift those creating the conditions that help girls and gender-expansive youth of color access their full power. As our communities face increased challenges, from the pandemic to economic distress, our swift response to meet the needs of girls and gender-expansive youth of color and their families is more essential than ever.
Women’s funds and foundations have also mobilized at the grassroots level via the Young Women’s Initiative. The initiative is modeled after the New York City Young Women’s Initiative, launched in 2015 through a partnership between the New York Women’s Foundation, the New York City Council, and Girls for Gender Equity. Its success inspired seven other women’s foundations from across the country to launch their own Young Women’s Initiatives in their respective localities, with a focus on galvanizing resources and creating cross-sector partnerships to advance equity and outcomes for young women of color, and young women from low-income communities. While Tides is a relatively new player in this arena, I’m excited to join the trailblazers who support this space. Alliance for Girls, a grantee of both Tides Foundation and G4GC, has experienced first-hand how the crises of 2020 hurt girls of color—and the organizations that serve them—across the Bay Area. In 2020,it launched the When Girls Thrive COVID-19 Response Initiative to “fill the data gap on the needs of girls and gender-expansive youth,” as the state navigates the crisis and prepares for a post-pandemic reality.
Alliance for Girls research—funded in part by Blue Shield of California Foundation and conducted by girls of color themselves on girls’ needs across California—details the multiple barriers girls now face. Its final report will offer a roadmap to funders and policy-makers to repair and rebuild the leadership pipeline to achieve gender equity for all.
Founding Executive Director Emma Mayerson says,
In the last few decades, we’ve seen tremendous progress in the leadership pipeline for girls. The unprecedented gendered impact of the pandemic threatens to erode this leadership pipeline, if we don’t act swiftly and strategically. An investment in young women right now is an investment in our state’s short and long-term recovery from this pandemic.
To fulfill our shared vision of a more just world, philanthropy must be resolute about investing in girls and young women of color. Tides is looking forward to cultivating a robust and sustainable donor base and to further building alliances, so under-served girls have a springboard to an equitable future.