Thanks, Anne, for making D.C. a better place for us all!

 A Message from Donna Callejon, Board Chair , The Women’s Foundation 

As Board Chair of The Women’s Foundation, I am honored to share with the The Women’s Foundation community, that our very own Anne Mosle has been selected as a 2006 Washingtonian of The YearRead the story here! 
Anne is being recognized for her singular vision, inspiring leadership and profound commitment to meeting the needs of women and girls in the D.C. metropolitan area. This honor is a terrific affirmation of what we all have known for so long: that Anne’s leadership has been a key component in the success of The Women’s Foundation and our partners, making the D.C. region better for all of us… one woman, one girl and one family at a time.
As Anne is always the first to say, The Women’s Foundation’s success is due to the many grantee partners, donors, staff, board members and friends who share in our mission:  to both build a powerful wave of philanthropy and better serve the needs of low-income women and girls. Under Anne’s leadership each of us has had the opportunity to connect with the work of the foundation while sharing in a vision of the kind of community we can create when we invest – and give – together. 
Please join me in congratulating Anne by sharing your own stories of Anne’s inspiring leadership by commenting on this blog! 
The Women’s Foundation also extends its sincere congratulations to this year’s other Washingtonians of the Year: Vivian G. Bass, Jacquelyn Davis, Ricardo Drumond, Jatrice Martel Gaiter, Natwar M. Gandhi, Jean Guiffré, Terrence D. Jones, James Larranaga, Joseph Mornini, Charlene R. Nunley, Earl A. Powell III, Andrea Roane, Zainab Salbi, W. Christopher Smith Jr. and Keely Thompson Jr.

2007: Your Year for Helping Women and Girls!

2006 hasn’t been a bad year for us girls.   

  • The Nobel Prize went to Dr. Muhammed Yunus, father of micro-credit and the Grameen bank, of which 90 percent of small business loans go to women lifting themselves out of poverty and onto the pathway of possibility. 
  • The first vaccine against cervical cancer was approved and made available to young women.  
  • Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House.
  • A 2006 report found that women are earning more degrees and credentials than ever! 
But then again, things can always be better.
  • Despite all those degrees, the wage gap between men and women is still growing.
  • Attacks on women reminded us that domestic violence is alive, well—and life threatening.  
  • Half of the world’s women continue to give birth without skilled care.
So, since much remains to be done to ensure that countries, communities, schools and families are safe, equitable and empowering for women and girls, Washington Area Women’s Foundation presents you with…
Your Calendar for Helping Women and Girls in 2007
January: Click to prevent! 
While setting up your annual doctor’s exams, check-ups and monthly reminders to do breast exams, take a moment to visit The Breast Cancer Site and sign up for daily reminders to click to provide a free mammogram to a low-income woman! 
February: Teach a girl the power of the purse! 
When reviewing your W-2s and savings strategy with your financial planner, take some time to teach a young woman in your life—a daughter, cousin, niece or neighbor—about the value of saving, investing wisely and planning for her financial future! For resources, click here!     
March: Turn celebration into action! 
Celebrate Women’s History Month with your book club by celebrating a female author and turning your collective reading into giving by starting a Giving Circle and investing together in women in your local community!  Read about Giving Circles and then learn how here
April: Spring clean someone to success! 
Clean out that closet and set up another woman for success through Dress for Success!
May: A meaningful Mother’s Day!   
Celebrate the Mom who has it all by supporting a woman who can become it all! Give a gift honoring your mom to the women’s foundation serving your community. Goodsearch your way to it, and catalyze a donation every time you click! 
June: Put your money where your values are!   
Invest in or support a woman-owned business! Need to find a new doctor or dentist this year? Narrow your search by supporting women’s practices. For other ways to show off your pro-woman purchasing power, use directory’s like this one showcasing women-owned businesses!
July: Patriots practice philanthropy!   
Show your patriotism through the American tradition of generosity! Give a gift on behalf of an important woman in your life—a mentor, teacher, mother, friend, colleague or sister—to your local women’s foundation, a domestic violence shelter or another organization that benefits women.         
August: Beat the heat, be a mentor!   
School’s about to be back in session, so get away from the heat by surfing your way to a local mentoring program! Young women everywhere are inspired and encouraged by role models who show them the value of education, encourage their interests and help them build the skills that will make them great students and citizens. Just look at what’s happening in Silver Spring, Maryland!  
For resources on mentoring programs in your area, consult Mentor, visit Dollar Philanthropy for an inspirational word on the value of mentoring or check in with your local women’s foundation—which most likely supports excellent mentoring programs for young women in your area! 
And remember, mentoring isn’t just for the young!  As women move into non-traditional careers or from low-wage jobs to professional careers—which is happening daily thanks to local women’s foundations—they need mentors and support!  Check in to learn how you can be a part of transforming lives and building futures!  
September: Become a political maven!   
School is back in session! Keep learning by studying policy initiatives that empower women and girls, whether on a national or state level. In 2007, likely policy areas to watch are living wage (90 percent of all long-term, minimum wage earners are women!), mandatory paid sick and maternity leave (We are the only country in the world without mandatory paid maternity leave!), the Earned Income Tax Credit, subsidized child care and affordable college education. Choose three issue areas, track them, and be sure to e-mail or call your representatives to let them know where you stand!

October:  Trick or trivia!
Don’t get tricked on your trivia…know your facts!  Check out these little known census facts about women in the U.S.! 
November: Put the giving in Thanksgiving!  
Bring the three T’s to the season of Thanksgiving: time, treasure and talent! Create a year-long plan for volunteering time at an organization whose mission you believe in, set up automatic monthly contributions to your local women’s foundation and contribute your talents by helping other women file their tax returns, providing financial training and education, teaching English to recent immigrants or providing career development courses! Get in touch with your local women’s foundation to learn how you can get involved!   
December: Create a legacy!   
Never too soon to plan for your legacy. Meet with your attorney about providing for organizations that assist women through a bequest in your will.          

Whew, see how time flies when you’re making a difference and changing lives?

Search, and they shall fund…us!

I love Google.

Possibly too much. I’m an addict. If they had Google Anonymous, I would probably need to go.

This occurred to me one night when I asked my husband what we should have for dinner, and he responded, “I don’t know, but I’m sure you could find the answer on Google.”

I believe I can find the answer to anything on Google. I’m one of those people who helped Google become a verb.

Which is why it’s funny for me to think back to the day when I first met Google. My friend Heather had just come back to Benin from her home leave when we were Peace Corps volunteers.

“You’re not going to believe this thing they have now,” she said, in the conspiratorial way we talked now about the crazy things they were cooking up “over there” while we were in Africa. “It’s called Google, and you can find anything.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. I was just fine with my Excite search engine. And I felt that Google was probably some sort of a phase, much like I had thought the Internet would be when I first heard about that.

Little did I know that years later, my Homepage would default to Google, my e-mail address would be and I’d be shopping through Froogle while getting my news from Google News.

All of this, even though I’m fairly certain that the government is somehow using all of this information to spy on me.

It’s worth it. I’ll never go back, said I.

Until a few days ago, when Dollar Philanthropy turned me on to Goodsearch.

What, said I, surfing that serves? C’est possible?

Indeed, it is.

Goodsearch is a search engine, powered by Yahoo!, that gives approximately a penny per search to any charity or school when a user designates it as their favorite. To bring that to scale, if a charity has 100 supporters who each do two searches a day, the non-profit would earn about $730 a year. If you have 10,000 supporters, well, that would be $73,000.

Seek, and they shall fund, I guess.

So it’s time to re-align your homepage, switch search engines and get ready to give. Because as of today, Washington Area Women’s Foundation is listed as a non-profit on Goodsearch!

If I can make the switch, anyone can.

Just type in Washington Area on the home page, click Verify, and then search as you normally would.

You get information, and the good feeling of knowing that the more you learn, the more women’s programming in the Washington area earns!

So make the change. I did it, and the withdrawal symptoms have been minimal. I promise.

At a workshop last Friday…

At a workshop last Friday, a Grantee Partner turned to me and said, “I love that The Women’s Foundation doesn’t just give money but that they also give us the tools needed to be successful.”

After attending the same workshop she did, I couldn’t have agreed more!

I am new to The Women’s Foundation and decided to attend a Grantee Partner workshop titled, “Essential Components of Successful Fundraising” facilitated by Tori O’Neal-McElrath, a consultant for The Women’s Foundation. As someone who is new to fundraising, I thought the workshop would be a great learning opportunity for me.

Girl, was I right!

Tori was just amazing. The attendees were so engaged in the workshop that the four hours just flew by. Tori did a great job of tailoring the workshop to where organizations were in their fundraising efforts, a challenge as there were some organizations that didn’t have a development plan and other, more seasoned organizations that did. Yet because of Tori’s expertise and delivery, we all left with much more knowledge than we had at the beginning.

I’ve worked at The Women’s Foundation for four months now and in that time I’ve seen a number of Grantee Partner workshops scheduled but have never participated in one. This was my chance to see The Women’s Foundation’s approach to partnership in action. I knew that these workshops were a part of the partnerships that The Women’s Foundation fosters with its Grantee Partners. But, it wasn’t until I attended this workshop that I realized what a real impact the workshops have on Grantees.

The Women’s Foundation doesn’t just give money and walk away. Through these workshops, The Women’s Foundation provides much needed support and education to non-profit organizations serving women and girls. After seeing Tori in action and hearing the applause given, I now know just how important the Grantee Partner workshops are and I’m just that much more proud to say I work at The Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Constructing futures, one woman at a time.

Eleven weeks doesn’t seem like enough to contain it all.

Which is probably why a latecomer asked me afterwards, “Now, how long were they in this program?”

“Eleven weeks," I respond.

His shocked expression confirms that I’m not out of line in thinking that it just doesn’t seem like enough to contain it all.

All the change, the growth, the transformation that seems to have occurred throughout the First Female Construction Employment Class implemented by the Goodwill of Greater Washington, a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation.

As part of Stepping Stones, and based on the research in our Portrait Project, The Women’s Foundation influenced Goodwill—which has been providing job training to disadvantaged populations in the area for over 60 years—to take their co-educational pre-apprenticeship construction training program and form a new one geared specifically for women in Prince George’s County.

Today, I attended the resulting graduation ceremony, where 17 women clearly got much more than certificates.

The certificates and construction seemed almost an after-thought, in fact. The focus was instead on the importance of keeping journals and setting goals. Of being sure to reflect on your life and do what you love. Of setting high standards and expectations and meeting them. Of living and working with integrity.

Not necessarily information one needs to built a support beam.

But crucial if one is to build a support team.

Which is exactly what Goodwill has done, by looking beyond the skills to the person using them, and by working with community players to address every aspect of the challenge of changing one’s life. Mentors from the National Association of Women in Construction encouraged the trainees by sharing their own stories of struggle and success in a traditionally male-dominated field. The Goodwill Program Director, Robyn, made the women read books about life and well-being to combine with their lessons on levels. Goodwill’s Joseph Mitko led discussions with the trainees on issues personal, private and sometimes painful, that made them all much more than classmates. Construction companies around the area took the trainees on tours of important construction sites and individuals came in from various organizations and companies to lead workshops on resume writing and goal-setting and taking care of yourself when life gets crazy.

And it was clear that it did.

As one graduate said in reference to the obstacles that could have hindered their success, “The devil was really busy.”

That devil of seemingly small things that can so easily derail a dream.

Especially, it seems, for women.



Sick kids.

That devil seemed to have nothing on these women, though.

They networked for each other if someone couldn’t make a job fair.  They carpooled and strategized about buses and trains.  They invited one woman’s young son into the class for the duration when her nanny quit. She was crying as she thanked them for this.  Otherwise, she would have had to have quit. 

“You could have complained,” she said.  Instead, they provided snacks and are including his name on the class plaque.

These women supported and shared their way to success.

And it was clear that’s what would keep them going. Much like with high school, it’s the relationships, the encouragement, the meeting challenges and pushing oneself that will define your future, not the algebra or the biology you may carry away.

Which may be why the women seemed a bit more excited about the “female power music mix CD” and the Passages journals they received from Goodwill than they were about their certificates.

Because while the certificates and the skills may get them where they want to go, it seemed that it’s the spirit of the CDs and the journals and the confidence of camaraderie that will keep them going.

As one graduate said, “We will never forget the great expectations you had for us…we accept the responsibility of being the first class of this type, and will achieve the success you have envisioned for us.”

Because construction skills may build buildings. But it takes much more than that to build a future.

To see pictures of the event, click here

Battling season-induced smallness.

‘Tis the season. There’s eggnog and lights and holiday parties a plenty. Merriment and jingle bells and a gift giving frenzy.

But let’s not forget the annual reports, holiday mailers, mass appeals and, of course, the multitudes of holiday address labels, personalized just for me, to remind me to give, give, give.

There is so much need, and so little time. Tax deadlines are upon us, after all. (See #3, here.)

And doesn’t my mailbox know it. For it is bearing the burdens of the world these days.

And as the junk mail stacks up and mass appeals and data statistics grow, I start to feel so small, small, small. Tiny isn’t just for Tim, after all.

Because amidst the holiday mountain of need, I feel like little more than a mole.

So you can imagine my joy when amidst all the reminders of poverty and need and great, great loss and destruction, I received from a friend a copy of Ode magazine and was reminded, by the story of just a regular guy, that even in the midst of big, big need there is space for small, but significant contributions.


And not only that, but the possibility that it’s the smaller scale work that tends to do more good than the big, huge, bureaucratic efforts. At least, that’s Dick Grace’s theory, and he seems to know what he’s doing.

In Ode, he was featured for his very personal approach to his Grace Family Foundation, which accepts only as much money as he can personally oversee in terms of assessing situations and visiting schools and families.

No fancy monitoring and evaluation schemes. No complex matrices of impact. No annual reports.

Just checking up on people to see if their lives are better. “Personal involvement is the key to successful philanthropy,” Grace says in Ode. “It’s like the difference between the millions spent on foreign aid, which often go to waste, and the smaller sums devoted to micro credit—a more small-scale, human, effective means of combating poverty.”

Which makes sense, if the Nobel Prize is any indication. Just ask Muhammed Yunus.

Because when philanthropy is personal, problems don’t have to be seen in terms of their grandeur to warrant funding dollars or attention. They can be talked about in terms of people, in terms of families, in terms of individual lives.

Which is why I like Grace’s philosophy that, “You don’t have to be wealthy to do good. You don’t need just money for philanthropy….People are never too poor or too inexperienced to be effective on their own.”

A welcome reminder this time of year, when my mailbox is housing a mountain of need and I find myself shrinking in the face of it.

Because philanthropy’s primary goal is to make problems smaller, not people.

The "p" word and polite society.

At this week’s Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Annual Meeting, Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, noted that it seems that it’s not okay to say the “p” (poverty) word in polite society. That it’s right up there with the other “bad” words: politics, race, class, sex.

Only to be discussed in the company of those who love and know us. At home. In the safety of common experience, education and economic status.

Add to this that to talk about poverty you have to address race, class, politics and often sex and gender, and, well, forget it.

I am, of course, smugly convinced that this doesn’t apply to me, as a bold, concerned citizen who speaks her mind.

And then I remember all the times friends from Africa have asked me direct questions about race or poverty while walking down Washington, D.C. streets. Sometimes they loudly use phrases like, “Why do white people…” or “Why are black people…” or “What about the people sleeping outside…?”

These questions generally spurn an instinctive, fast, hushed reaction of, “Oh, let’s talk about that once we get home.”

I don’t want to offend, after all.

My African friends generally think this is insane. Race and economic status are given points of reference in their society, where people are labeled, without insult or offense, as “white,” “brown,” “dark,” “light” and are often known by their professions—and therefore economic standing—before their names. “Where is The Carpenter?” “Have you seen The Professor?”

I guess it’s easier to talk about poverty and race when the differences are not as vast—when the majority of people are of a common race and economic status.

When one is at home.

The embarrassment of disclosure must come along when the disparities appear, coinciding with the literal embarrassment of riches.

Which may be another reason, along with those Siobhán mentioned last week, that philanthropists often prefer to give anonymously. And why it is perhaps so important, as she reminded us, that, “The public use of our money can say so much. Putting big money and names to our work can speak to what we share as women, what we want as women and the society we want to shape as women.”

Money talks, if given a voice. Money creates movements.

If in doubt, think Gates, the cause of AIDS in Africa and how his bandwagon is about as packed as an African bush taxi.

Seems an appropriate time to be thinking about AIDS in Africa anyway, as today we mark World AIDS Day, and have the opportunity to reflect on an illness that seems more and more to be a mark of the inequities of race, gender and yes, the “p” word than just a disease.

Philanthropic leaders salute Stepping Stones!

Philanthropic leaders gathered today at the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Annual Meeting had many different opinions and thoughts on issues of local and national poverty, but they all seemed to agree that The Women’s Foundation’s Stepping Stones program is to be lauded as an effective, innovative leader in transforming lives.

In a discussion on sustainable, meaningful efforts to address poverty, Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, called Stepping Stones an "amazing effort" and stated, "Those supporting that effort should be congratulated, because you’re pointing the way."

Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity (Washington) University and one of The Washingtonian’s "100 Most Powerful Women of Washington," thanked The Women’s Foundation for its work on building the financial skills of area women, a primary component of Stepping Stones. She noted that the Stepping Stones approach is an important and effective one because it addresses poverty by moving from charity to investments that empower people to sustain change in their own lives.

To learn more about why Stepping Stones is viewed as a leading model in addressing poverty and empowering women and their families, check out the program’s latest report, Stepping Stones 2006: Paving Women’s Pathways to Economic Security. It explains how 5,500 women saved nearly $3 million while shedding more than $72,000 in personal debt, and more!

Same Story, New Terrain

This is my first blog to introduce myself as the Communications and Marketing Officer of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Whether in the United Arab Emirates or the United States of America, Windhoek or Washington,DC,it is undeniable that where women thrive, so do families, communities and countries.

One of my earliest introductions to this reality came during my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, where I heard repeatedly, “To educate a woman is to educate a nation.”

To empower a woman is to empower a community. A nation. Future generations.

To grow. To thrive. To dream. To achieve.

In the years following this introduction—through my work in international development with a focus on African women, girls and community development—I came to internalize this idea as a foundational principle of my work.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am therefore thrilled (and thankful!) to be starting a new adventure applying the experience I gained in Africa to the work of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation—work that so deeply impacts my local community.

As I begin my work as The Women Foundation’s Communications and Marketing Officer and take in the history and stories of its unique approaches and successes, I am struck by the similarities that bridge women in communities across all continents.

And while I am sometimes frustrated by the challenges and the on-going inequities and injustices faced by women, I continue to be motivated, rejuvenated and energized by the power of women to come together to change their lives and improve their communities.

I can therefore imagine no more rewarding place to be than The Women’s Foundation! I look forward to meeting and working with you. Please feel free to drop me a line at

Giving Out Loud!

Marjorie forwarded an article entitled “Women’s Philanthropy Group Goes Public with Causes; Menlo-based Network Enters Political Fray With Ad” that got me thinking; what is the difference between the power of philanthropy and the power of openly, PUBLICLY, using money?

The Women Donors Network (WDN), profiled in the article, decided to find out with a first-time public endeavor, a voting rights campaign characterized as “a national coming-out party” for the 175 women members who give a total of $100 million dollars a year. A party indeed!

These women know that voting, like giving, is a demonstration of one’s values, both acts speak to who we are and provide us each with a powerful way to shape the society we live in. They also know that both are often private acts. What makes this first-time foray for the WDN so striking is the collective decision of these women to publicly demonstrate the power of money. They are moving beyond a power of philanthropy, even the power of the purse and choosing to do it publicly, even OUT LOUD. Why?

We know the power of philanthropy; The Women’s Foundation has 101 stories of donors, grantee partners and clients whose lives have changed because of philanthropy.

We know the power of giving together; The Women’s Foundation is, in itself, a testimony to the difference giving together makes.

But the power of openly, publicly, using money?

How do we all talk about that?!

Philanthropy can be private and powerful. But what about philanthropy that is public and powerful? What do we, as women donors of all shapes, sizes and incomes, understand the difference to be? As individuals, the desire, indeed the need, to be anonymous can make sense. Going public is scary, uncomfortable, even threatening. But together, as a collective, as a shared voice, the public use of our money can say so much. Putting big money and names to our work can speak to what we share as women, what we want as women and the society we want to shape as women.

It is new territory, this public and powerful use of money, that is for sure, but like the frontiers of any new terrain, essential to exploring together.