Studies show that women continue to be philanthropic movers and shakers.

Well, the Interwebs are certainly all abuzz this week with talk of women’s philanthropy.  And the talk is good.

First, a Fidelity study shows that women are shaping the future of philanthropy.

Okay, we knew that.

But still, the report shows a number of positive, exciting new trends, such as that women are growing more comfortable giving with their name attached now, are being increasingly innovative in their philanthropic choices and are increasingly making decisions for how their households will give.

Additionally, Tactical Philanthropy featured a post, "Six Principles of Women’s High Engagement Philanthropy," which outlines the six principles (well worth a read) and offers the following introductory insight from Alice Eagly of Northwestern University, who says, "Women are transformational leaders while men are more likely to be transactional leaders."

Just like we’ve known at The Women’s Foundation for years: women are all about giving "beyond the check." 

Give and Take summarizes these discussions well here.

These pieces are exciting because they confirm what those of us practicing women’s philanthropy have long known to be true, as well as demonstrating that the movement is growing rapidly and with energy, despite the economic downturn and the many challenges it brings with it.

Indeed, as the song says that is so often heard at graduation ceremonies of our Grantee Partners’ job training and other programs, "Ain’t no stoppin’ us now."

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Weekly Round-Up: News and Analysis on Women and Poverty (Memorial Day 2009 Holiday Edition)

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with The Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty.

Spotlight is the go-to site for news and ideas about fighting poverty.

For daily updates and links to past articles, check out “Women and Poverty.” It’s a new section of our site with a comprehensive collection of recent news and analysis on women and poverty.

Along with these daily updates, continue to visit for our weekly rundown of the top news stories on women and poverty every Friday.

Here’s this week’s news:

• A Chicago Tribune article profiling a program that sends kids from a troubled area to summer camp to provide both enrichment and safety quotes a mom who is concerned for her son’s safety in their Chicago neighborhood.

• In a report appearing in USA Today, a single mom who lost her job is among those who send their children to a school catering specifically to homeless children.

• As covered by the Chicago Tribune, a clinic for low-income women is among those being closed due to financial constraints.

• In an op-ed in the Centre Daily Times, the author argues for stronger pre-natal health coverage for low-income women.

To learn more about Spotlight, visit  To sign up for our weekly updates with the latest news, opinion and research from around the country, click here.

The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity Team

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is a foundation-led, non-partisan initiative aimed at ensuring that our political leaders take significant actions to reduce poverty and increase opportunity in the United States. We bring together diverse perspectives from the political, policy, advocacy and foundation communities to engage in an ongoing dialogue focused on finding genuine solutions to the economic hardship confronting millions of Americans.

Sex trafficking continues to strike in our communities, as do solutions by local organizations.

Last week, New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristoff published a column on sex trafficking of young, American girls, stating, "The business model of pimping is remarkably similar whether in Atlanta or Calcutta: take vulnerable, disposable girls whom nobody cares about, use a mix of “friendship,” humiliation, beatings, narcotics and threats to break the girls and induce 100 percent compliance, and then rent out their body parts."

Eerily similar to a piece we posted here a while back discussing the work of our Grantee Partners fighting trafficking here in Washington, D.C., often on K Street, where The Women’s Foundation’s office is.

Oddly, the same day Kristof’s article was published, a timely reminder of how closely this issue continues to strike in my community hit my inbox, when Taylor Wilhelm, senior development officer with Polaris Project–a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation with work focused on combatting human trafficking–wrote to let us know of the powerful impact of their work. 

"Recently, a trafficker was brought to justice in a case that began with a call to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline, operated by Polaris Project," she wrote.  "On a Friday afternoon, a youth educator called the hotline when her local youth center experienced the unexplained disappearances of several children. We were able to work with the caller to identify a human trafficking network, to refer the case immediately to federal authorities, and to locate the lost children in a nearby State two weeks later. They were discovered to be part of a multi-state human trafficking ring."  (See the press release.) 

Tayler closed by saying, "We greatly appreciate the many ways you all support us to make successes like this more common!"

The Women’s Foundation is proud to partner with organizations like The Polaris Project, Fair Fund and Covenant House (mentioned in the Kristof piece), to combat sex trafficking and to be part of the solution. 

As Kristof writes, "Solutions are complicated and involve broader efforts to overcome urban poverty, including improving schools and attempting to shore up the family structure. But a first step is to stop treating these teenagers as criminals and focusing instead on arresting the pimps and the customers — and the corrupt cops."

Each of these organizations understands this and is effectively working to educate their communities about the realities of trafficking, to advocate for policies and safe houses to protect victims and to collaborate with school and law enforcement officials to prevent trafficking at the outset.

The Women’s Foundation is proud to support their efforts.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Follow The Women's Foundation on Twitter!

The Women’s Foundation is now on Twitter!  We’ll be providing updates on our work, strategies, impact and success stories via @TheWomensFndtn

If you’re on Twitter, please find us, follow and join the conversation!

We’re looking forward to using Twitter as a way to share more information about our work and more often, as well as to engage in a genuine dialogue with members of our community.

Join us, as we all work, together, to explore the ideas and strategies that are changing the lives of women and girls in the Washington metro area! 

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Fair Fund: Leadership Award meant far more than $15,000!

The following is an excerpt from the speech Caroline Tower-Morris gave as a representative of Fair Fund, to congratulate the newest Leadership Awardees and welcome them to The Women’s Foundation’s community.

In 2007, Fair Fund was a Leadership Award recipient, and winner of the on-line vote.  I am proud to be here this evening representing FAIR Fund, as well as honored to be able to pass the torch to the new class of award recipients, including Polaris Project, winner of the 2009 on-line vote.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Washington Area Women’s Foundation on behalf of FAIR Fund for everything, and we look forward to a continuing fruitful partnership.

Over the past year, I discovered how truly fortunate FAIR Fund was to have received the 2007 Leadership Award and to have won the online vote. The Leadership Award and online vote meant more to us than $15,000, which, of course, was also extremely helpful.

On a deeper level, the Leadership Award helped to position FAIR Fund’s presence in the women’s and girl’s advocacy and service community.  Prior to the award, FAIR Fund had been working inside D.C. schools and youth centers to reach out to and assist teens, in particular girls, who were at high risk toward sexual violence and even commercial sexual exploitation, but this award helped us to deepen our level of commitment and service.

When my Executive Director, Andrea Powell, told me that up to 70 percent of teens in classes reported knowing another teen involved in some form of commercial sex, I was truly shocked and realized that the need to provide comprehensive community support and outreach was greater than possibly imagined.

With the support and community connectionsThe Women’s Foundation offered to FAIR Fund last year, we were able to reach out to a broader D.C. community.

For example, we were offered a chance to work with The Hatcher Group on our media strategy, resulting in multiple press coverage opportunities, including the Washington Post and

The Women’s Foundation believed in FAIR Fund as we sought to educate the community and build support for young women and men trapped by pimps and traffickers, who often trick their victims by pretending to be a boyfriend or friend, then demand that they have sex with others to keep that relationship, and often even just to keep their own lives.

These young women and men deserve to be heard, and The Women’s Foundation helped strengthen FAIR Fund’s voice.

Starting last year at this very Leadership Awards ceremony, FAIR Fund began to form new partnerships with other Leadership Award recipients in order to deepen our community connections to other women’s programs. We formed special relationships with agencies that are now our partners is assisting exploited and neglected girls. Together, we are addressing the myriad of challenges that small nonprofits face as colleagues.  We are also there to help facilitate outreach in new communities in D.C. and provide assistance to identified exploited girls.

This past fall, the support from The Women’s Foundation continued to strengthen FAIR Fund’s role in the D.C. women’s and girl’s advocacy community when we partnered at our first annual Youth Ally Awards and Pathways event to raise D.C. community awareness of the plight of commercially sexually exploited teens.  During that evening in November, The Women’s Foundation supported FAIR Fund as we shared findings from a two-year federally funded study of 60 teens in D.C. and Boston who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Many of our colleagues from The Women’s Foundations were there, as were many of our own partners in the community, including Polaris Project–a Leadership Awardee this year and winner of the online vote!

The resources the award offered to FAIR Fund over the course of the year have helped give a small organization such as ours a leg up in many areas. In this uncertain economic climate, giving to others does not, or cannot, always take precedence, and The Women’s Foundation through their award and numerous priceless resources, has insured that the plight of many women and girls in Washington, DC does not go unnoticed.

FAIR Fund plans to continue the work for which The Women’s Foundation has honored us, and we are inspired to strive for even higher goals.

FAIR Fund is proud to stand alongside The Women’s Foundation today as we recognize the 2009 Leadership Awardees and the winner of the public online vote, Polaris Project.

FAIR Fund and the Polaris Project are strong partners in building a D.C. that is safer for young women and girls. 

Recently, FAIR Fund and Polaris Project staff worked together to rescue a young woman who was a victim of human trafficking.  As our two agencies worked tirelessly through the night, it reinforced the idea that no one agency can do everything.  However, this one night and the following days of assisting this young woman proved that together we were able to help her escape her abuser and begin to access services and shelter, and finally to re-build her life.

Caroline Tower-Morris is co-founder and chair of the board of directors of Fair Fund, a 2007 Leadership Awardee of The Women’s Foundation.  This post is an excerpt of the speech she gave on April 7, 2009, at the ceremony to honor the 2009 Leadership Awardees and to welcome them to The Women’s Foundation’s community.

Congratulations to Polaris Project, winner of the online vote!

Last night, The Women’s Foundation hosted what is my favorite event of the year–the Leadership Awards Reception–where we presented each of our 10 amazing awardees this year with their certificates and announced the winner of this year’s online vote.

This year’s vote–the second we’ve done–was incredible.  Last year, we brought in 1,187 votes total

This year, the vote’s winner, Polaris Project, brought in 2,715 votes themselves, with a total of 8,538 votes being cast overall.

Polaris Project was selected as a 2009 Leadership Awardee for their DC Trafficking Intervention Program (DC TIP), which has combatted human trafficking in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland Launched since 2002 by working to create an effective community-based response to curb local human trafficking network activity.  DC TIP provides comprehensive services to foreign national and U.S. citizen victims in the Washington metro area and works towards long-term, systemic change.

At the reception last night, Amb. Mark P. Lagan, Executive Director of Polaris Project, explained that Polaris Project is named after the North Star, otherwise known as Polaris, which guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.  Today, Polaris Project helps victims of all kinds of trafficking throughout the world to escape and rebuild their lives with dignity and hope. 

The Women’s Foundation congratulations Polaris Project for their outstanding work mobilizing support for the vote, and all of our 2009 Leadership Awardees for their awards and for the outstanding work they did to mobilize support for the vote and awareness of the transformational work they’re doing throughout our community to change the lives of women and girls. 

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

WJLA article highlights impact of local women's construction program.

Many of our readers and community members remember the powerful story of Laceiy and Sharan, and how their lives were changed by a construction job training program, Washington Area Women in the Trades (WAWIT), that is supported by The Women’s Foundation’s Stepping Stones Initiative.

Now, you can learn even more about the program through a WJLA story, "Local Program Expands Career Choices for Women."  The article discusses the success stories of some recent graduates now with exciting careers in construction and other nontraditional fields.

Check it out and learn more about how nontraditional job training for women not only changes the lives of women and their families, but also our community as a whole!

View the WJLA article.
View the video about Laceiy and Sharan’s WAWIT success stories.

Learn more about WAWIT.
Learn more about Stepping Stones.
Learn more about Wider Opportunities for Women and the YWCA of the National Capital Area, two Grantee Partners of The Women’s Foundation who partner to implement WAWIT.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

New Leadership Awardee, Family PASS, cited as CNN Hero!

Here at The Women’s Foundation, we consider all of our Grantee Partners heroes.

But it’s still exciting to see one formally recognized for it!  Like when we learned that one of our new 2009 Leadership Awardees, Family Preservation and Strengthening Services (Family PASS), and its founder, Suezette Steinhardt, has just been named as a CNN Hero!

You can check out the article, and a video of Suezette discussing her work, here.

Congrats, Suezette, on this honor from all of us at The Women’s Foundation.  We’re proud to have you as part of our community of outstanding Grantee Partners working every day to change the lives of our region’s women and girls. 

And thank you for all that you do for low-income families in Virginia!

Learn more about Family PASS here.

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications. 

Leadership Awards online vote: Who says one vote doesn't make a difference? VOTE TODAY!

If you haven’t yet voted in the 2009 Leadership Awards online vote, please do so todayPolls close at 5 p.m. today and your vote will definitely make a difference!

Currently, the top two leaders are literally within 15 votes of one another!  A few minutes ago it was three!  They’ve been bouncing back and forth all day, so there is absolutely no way to know how this will turn out!

So, if you haven’t yet, please visit this link, learn about our 10 outstanding Leadership Awardees for 2009 and the work they’re doing for our region’s women and girls, and then vote for the one that you think is having the greatest impact on women and girls in the Washington metropolitan area!

Lisa Kays is The Women’s Foundation’s Director of Communications.

Why you should vote for the Washington Middle School for Girls!

This online voting for the Washington Middle School For Girls has been the most incredible experience.

In response to my blanket email to everyone in my address book, I am hearing from people I haven’t heard from in years.  None has been more poignant than the response from a distant cousin who was brought back to a conversation she had with her aunt when she was 10 years old.

Her aunt told her that no matter what advice anyone was to give her, the best thing she could tell her was to grow up to be a strong woman.

So, when she started looking at The Women’s Foundation and Washington Middle School for Girls‘ Web sites, her aunt’s advice all came rushing back. It was a conversation she hadn’t had in a while.

Sometimes, we forget that the work we do everyday with girls and women is not front and center with everyone.  To us, when you change the life of a girl, you change the life of a woman.

It’s that simple.

So yes, I’ve loved spreading the good news and getting people to vote for the school.  And I love the added bonus of wonderful feedback.

Vote now!

Colette Breen works in the development office at the Washington Middle School for Girls.