Careers for Women: A Key to Economic Recovery

IMG_0096Last month, The Women’s Foundation was among a group of organizations and individuals invited to an important discussion about women and the economy held by the White House Council on Women and Girls.  Created by President Obama in 2009, the Council works to ensure that federal agencies are taking the needs of women and girls into account as they draft policies and create programs.

At the briefing on women and the economy, we got a sobering look at how women have been impacted by the recession and recovery.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that administration officials say jobs will be the key to all of us – women and men – recovering successfully.

Dr. Judith Hellerstein of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers explained that working women have been concentrated in industries that fared better at the beginning of the recession.  Since the recovery began, however, industries where women are concentrated (e.g., the public sector) have not fared as well.  Dr. Hellerstein added that African American women and Latinas have faced the highest increase in unemployment rates and African American women continue to lose jobs drastically.

So what are the jobs that will help women get onto successful career pathways now and into the future?

“Women have to think green,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.  “Green is going to be the future.”

Secretary Solis said that 2.7 million jobs have already been created in the green sector.  She also said that more women need to be exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Dr. Rebecca Blank from the U.S. Department of Congress told us that STEM jobs are growing faster than other sectors and pay 26% more; however women and people of color are enormously underrepresented in the field:

  • 24% of STEM workers are women;
  • 6% of STEM workers are black;
  • 6% of STEM workers are Hispanic.

So why do fewer women enter a growing field that pays well?  Dr. Blank said that while women are more likely than men to go to college, they are much less likely to enter college prepared for STEM studies.  She suggested that positive attention focused on science and math for girls beginning at an early age would benefit them from elementary school into their careers.

“Girls can do science and math, have great fun doing it and contribute to the world!” Dr. Blank said.

There are many fantastic organizations right here in our community that are working to prepare girls and women for these types of careers.  The Campagna Center, for example, used a grant from Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Rainmakers Giving Circle to start a program that encourages students at T.C. Williams High School to explore STEM careers.  The Latinas Empowered to Achieve their Potential (LEAP) program helps students improve their leadership skills, learn more about topics like physics, and conduct their own experiments.

Goodwill of Greater Washington – another Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner – holds green construction classes for adults through the Green Pathway DC program.  The 10-week pre-apprenticeship program includes four weeks of green construction training and three weeks of weatherization, green advantage or smart meter installation.

“We’ve seen an increase in women coming through the program.  There was a time when there weren’t any women and now we’re seeing three or four,” Latoria Strickland told me last year.  Latoria is a senior career trainer with Green Pathway DC.

Our Grantee Partner Year Up also takes a hands-on approach, training young people for internships and jobs in Information/Technology.  In addition to practical lessons in IT, Year Up helps young people think about career pathways.girl at computer

“My internship phase allowed me to meet with the head of my company and collaborate with them,” said Kimberly Holloway, a recent graduate who now works for a cyber intelligence company.  “It really opened up a lot of opportunities for me financial-wise and professionally.”

Programs like these are setting up women and their families to have brighter futures.  By providing women and girls with the resources that will enable them to enter career pathways with stability, benefits and family-sustaining pay, we’re making investments in the economic well-being of our entire community.

Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor summed it up best: “By helping women, we’re helping the entire country.”

The Best Gift My Grandmother Gave Me

nonnaHow do you show others that you love or care about them?  Some people say it with kind words, thoughtful gifts or generous donations.  My grandmother, Esther, has always expressed it through actions.  Now going on 96-years-old, in good health, and having outlived both of my parents and most of her siblings and friends, my grandmother has always expressed her love by having a full pantry and room at the table for anyone who needed a meal.  And that wasn’t always easy.  My grandmother emigrated to the US in the 1950s with two teenage daughters and raised them essentially on her own.

I remember her in her prime as always juggling multiple jobs.  For years she was the jewelry buyer for the UNICEF gift store in Los Angeles.  But she was also, at the same time, a travel agent, a French teacher (her pupils included Leonard Nimoy!), and the uber-volunteer.  She won multiple “Volunteer of the Year” awards from the Israel Cancer Research Fund, where she began volunteering after my mother died from cancer in the early 1980s.  But above and beyond nanathat, she always had a home-cooked meal and an invitation to her table for neighbors, friends or the visitor who had nowhere else to go.  Her friends knew that they could call on her day or night and that she would be there to support them, drive them where they needed to go, make them a meal, or provide whatever else they needed.  Nothing was too much to ask of her and she never — never — expected anything in return.  I did not realize then that she was my introduction to philanthropy.

This Hanukkah, as I prepare a meal for my family and our neighbors I am thinking about my family — especially my grandmother — and the lessons they’ve taught me.  She is proof of what we all know: women are resilient; women will do anything in their power to provide for their families and hold them together.  And for me personally, she was one of my most significant role models who showed me through her actions that supporting those in need, giving back and caring for others is the way to live.  It’s an example that I try to follow everyday through my work, my giving and my actions.

Nicky Goren is the president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

Washington Area Women’s Foundation Awards $240,000 in Grants to Local Nonprofits

Earlier today, the Associated Press reported that a record number of Americans have fallen into poverty or are barely scraping by.  1 in 2 people are poor or low-income, the AP found, and safety net programs have kept poverty from rising even higher.  It is facts like these that prompted Washington Area Women’s Foundation to focus its work on economic security for women and girls and to make strategic investments in programs that have an impact.

At its quarterly meeting this week Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s board of directors approved $240,000 in grants to eight area nonprofits whose work is transforming the lives of women and girls.

“Our grants to these outstanding organizations represent an investment in the potential of every woman and girl in our community,” said Nicky Goren, president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation. “When women and girls prosper, our entire region benefits.”

Five of the nonprofits received funding from the Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative (ECEFC), a partnership between national and local private foundations, corporate funders and family foundations to increase access to quality early care and education in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

“It is especially important for young children from low- and moderate-income families to have the social, emotional and intellectual foundation they need to be successful in school and beyond,” said Stacey Collins, manager of Client & Community Relations at The PNC Financial Services Group and member of the ECEFC steering committee. “These five grant recipients are doing innovative and effective work that is transforming the lives of children and their families.”

The ECEFC Grantee Partners are:

  • CentroNía ($50,000)
  • Empower DC ($50,000)
  • Fairfax Futures ($50,000)
  • Hopkins House ($25,000)
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children ($50,000)

Three nonprofits received funding from the African American Women’s Giving Circle.  The giving circle supports African American women-led organizations that improve the lives of African American women and girls in the Washington region.

The African American Women’s Giving Circle Grantee Partners are:

  • New Community for Children ($6,070)
  • Our Place DC ($6,070)
  • Petals of Primrose ($2,000)

A poverty fact sheet released earlier this year by The Women’s Foundation and The Urban Institute showed that the number of women and girls living in poverty in the region rose to more than 200,000.  For more trends and statistics on the rising local poverty rate, please click here.

And for more information on Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the ECEFC, the African American Women’s Giving Circle or the nonprofits receiving grants, please go to or contact Mariah Craven at or (202)347-7737 x207.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

eatethicallyIn today’s rundown: how to ensure that the employees at your favorite restaurants are being treated fairly.  Plus, a new study shows that women drive most charitable giving.

— Eating ethically is on the menu, thanks to Restaurant Opportunities Center United and its 2012 Diners’ Guide, which includes information on wages, benefits and promotion practices of some of the most popular restaurants in America. The Diners’ Guide was created because so many restaurant employees — especially women, immigrants and people of color — do not earn living wages, benefits and opportunities to move into better positions.  Restaurant Opportunities Center DC is a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— Women are either the sole decision maker or equal partners in making decisions about charitable giving in 90 percent of high networth households, according to a new study released by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy and Bank of America.  The Nonprofit Quarterly breaks down the highlights of the study and explores how this will impact how charities approach donors.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: A special after school guest for the students at Horton’s Kids.  A look at why unemployment is so high in some parts of DC even though there are many jobs available.  Plus, analysis of the latest unemployment numbers and what they mean for women.

— Tomorrow afternoon the students at Horton’s Kids will have some special help with their homework — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be visiting the nonprofit during its weekly tutoring session.  The visit is part of the 2011 Combined Federal Campaign.  Horton’s Kids is a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— Washington, DC has plenty of jobs and, in some wards, plenty of unemployment. The disconnect, reports DCentric, is that many residents are lacking the skills and credentials they need to get jobs.  DCentric is looking into what can be done to help unskilled residents find jobs.

— More than 300,000 women dropped out of the labor force last month, according to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), which analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. IWPR — a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner — also found that women who maintain families without a spouse have much higher unemployment rates than other groups.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: The number of young parents who need housing in DC is on the rise.  Plus, Gloria Steinem talks about the women’s movement and what she learned after turning 60.

— An increasing number of parents under the age of 24 in DC are in need of housing, reports The Washington Post. The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates released a study today that surveyed about 500 people between the ages of 12 and 24 who did not have stable housing arrangements.  About half of those surveyed had children.  According to the executive director of Covenant House, a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner, most of the study participants had to leave more stable homes for economic reasons.

— As part of the TEDxWomen’s conference last week, Gloria Steinem sat down to talk about women’s progress and aging well.  You can watch her short interview by clicking here.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Last chance to apply for a giving circle grant.  Ensuring that women are part of the strategy to battle AIDS.  New unemployment numbers. And “disgusting” remarks from a presidential candidate about children who live in poverty.

— Funding proposals for the Rainmakers Giving Circle are due on Monday at 5pm!  The giving circle’s mission is to improve the lives of girls and young women in the Washington region.  Please click here for more details.

— Yesterday was World AIDS Day and Women’s Enews wants to ensure that women are included in plans to fight HIV and AIDS.  Serra Sippel writes that a recent speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “sidelined women and reproductive health.”

— GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich recently said some things about children, poverty, crime and work ethic that The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart generously describes as “disgusting.”

— New numbers out today show that the nationwide unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent last month.  DCentric points out, however, that the unemployment rate remained stable for blacks and Hispanics.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region


In today’s rundown: A new video contest is giving girls across the country a chance to participate in problem solving.  Plus, a new report takes a look at the impact of poverty on young families.

— To show that girls play vital roles in our country as thought leaders and problem solvers, the Women’s Media Center is holding a Girls’ State of the Union video contest.  Girls between the ages of 14 and 22 are invited to create and submit a video.  In January, the winner will be flown to Washington, DC to present her report to the National Press Club.  The deadline to submit is December 5th!  Click here to find out how to submit.

— The younger the children and parents are in a household, the more likely the family is to be poor, according to a new report. “Two Generations in Poverty: U.S. Status and Trends Among Parents and Children” “outlines the disproportionate effects of poverty on young children, young parents, and children and parents in single-mother families.”

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Nearly half of Americans don’t have economic security, according to a new report.  Guidelines on eating ethically are coming out in DC this week.  And almost half of men surveyed say they’d like to be stay-at-home husbands if their wives out earned them.

— Nearly half of Americans are living without economic security, according to a new report from Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.  According to the report, “43 percent of all households and 62 percent of African American households and 66 of Hispanic households have incomes that fail to reach economic security.”

— On Thursday, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United will release the National Diners’ Guide 2012.  The guide will help diners locate restaurants that treat their employees ethically.  Restaurant Opportunities Centers DC is a Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner.

— The majority of men are OK with women earning more money, according to a new study. Men’s Health and Spike TV found that 73 percent of men don’t have a problem dating a woman who out earns them; 45 percent of men say they wouldn’t mind staying at home if their spouses were the main breadwinners.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Honoring the most influential businesswomen in the region.  A new study finds the best pathways to the middle class.  And why women veterans rock.

— Later today 25 women, including Women’s Foundation President Nicky Goren, will be honored by the Washington Business Journal.  Each year the Business Journal holds the Women Who Mean Business Awards to recognize “influential, powerful and trailblazing women.”  Congratulations to Nicky and all of the other honorees!

— Georgetown University has released a new report that examines the best education and labor pathways into the middle class.  Career Clusters: Forecasting Demand for High School Through College Jobs, 2008 – 2018, found that “decent jobs” still exist for those who have high school diplomas, but no higher education; however, there are not enough of those jobs to go around.  The report also confirms that women need a postsecondary education to earn the same wages as men with high school diplomas.

The Washington Informer details an event held last week to honor women veterans.  The Informer says that women are the fastest growing group of veterans in the country.