A Father’s Love & Resilience

My father came to the United States from India in 1961. Like many immigrants of the time, he saw America as the land of opportunity. If he worked hard, he’d make a life for himself.

In India, my father had been a refugee, his family displaced after the partition. He attended primary school in a tent, graduated early from high school, earned a bachelor’s degree, and started to work to help support his parents and younger siblings. He was doing well, but being successful in America was his dream.

So when the opportunity to move to the States arose, he took it. Never mind that no employer would accept his foreign degree. He’d earn a second one. Never mind that he didn’t have a wealthy family to support him. He’d work full time while taking a full course load to pay his own way through school. He went without meals regularly. He couldn’t afford a winter coat. In fact, he only had one suit that he wore daily and washed at night.

Never mind any of that – he was in America. His hard work would be recognized.

My mother was white, born in Connecticut. My parents met in college. Her parents disproved of their relationship. They went so far as to pull her out of school when my mother continued to see my father, a poor foreigner, despite their wishes. Consequently, my parents eloped. Without family support and with some cultural barriers, their marriage was difficult, but they had four daughters before my mother unexpectedly passed away, leaving my father as a single parent.


Mithu and Mary married in 1966

At that time, it was not unheard of for Indian fathers living abroad who found themselves widowers to send their kids to live with family back in India until they found a new wife. That was not an option for my father. He remembered that the India of his childhood was not kind to girls. He recalled the fear of his sisters when they first menstruated because no one had told them it was coming or what it was. They thought they were dying. He recalled how dependent women were on their husbands and that not all husbands were kind. He did not want his daughters to be fearful or dependent.

He kept us in the US and raised us, as best he could, as Americans because American women could be independent and free.

My father taught me many things, whether or not intentionally. But, one of the things he made sure I knew was that hard work and self-reliance led to independence. They led to freedom.

Right now, many women and girls in our country are, whether or not intentionally, taught a counter to that message – that hard work will not be recognized or rewarded, or that women should rely on men to dictate their rights and self-worth.

This Father’s Day, let’s take a moment to thank all of the dads out there who work against that narrative, not just for their daughters, but for all of their kids. Let’s appreciate the fathers who are raising hard working, independent Americans, regardless of their gender. And let’s stand with them against the notion that America is anything other than the land of the free.

Maryland Makes the Health of Women and Families a Priority

At Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we believe access to quality, affordable health care is essential for women to thrive. Access to contraception is a key component of overall health care. Family planning services, including both privately and publicly funded services, are critical to ensuring women and families have the ability to plan if and when to have children.

Federal Title X funding helps ensure that women are able to access reproductive health care services, regardless of race, income level, gender identity, location, or insurance status.

The Trump-Pence administration recently issued a new rule imposing harmful standards of care on patients by limiting what doctors in Title X clinics can say to their patients about contraception. Open conversations are essential to improving health outcomes. This “gag rule” not only prohibits doctors from giving women full information about their reproductive health care options, but it also redirects  funding from clinics with a range of options available onsite, toward ideologically motivated, single-method providers—or crisis pregnancy centers—thus diminishing access to affordable health care services for millions of women.

The rule will have devastating effects on populations that are already facing significant barriers to accessing health care services. Decades of systemic inequities and racism in the operation of programs and policies have imposed barriers on certain populations— young women, women of color, LGBTQ people, low-income women, and women in rural areas— limiting their access to health care. In our region, many women who rely on Title X funding to access contraception and other essential health care services are women of color who face overlapping barriers to accessing health care, education, and childcare. Without access to Title X funded clinics, they would be unable to afford these health services on their own.

There are several legal challenges to the rule pending, and it will most likely end up before the Supreme Court. Public health organizations and elected officials, including mayors, governors, and state legislators have come out in opposition to the rule and are actively urging the administration to reconsider its position.

In the meantime, Maryland has made the health of women and families a priority by being the first state in the nation to formally opt-out of Title X federal funding.  The state legislature approved preemptive legislation that guarantees funding, at the same level as the prior fiscal year, for all family planning centers in the state if the rule moves forward. With this provision, Maryland is leading the way for the nation to defend the integrity of the Title X program and ensure basic reproductive health provisions for the women who need it most.


Claudia Williams is Program Officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation where she contributes to crafting and executing program strategy and manages the Young Women’s Initiative of Washington, DC

A Response to The Washington Post Editorial Board

When The Washington Post Editorial Board recently released its endorsements for the upcoming Fairfax County Board of Supervisors primary election, it was criticized for supporting all male candidates. Reporters from other local news outlets interviewed some of the candidates about the questions they were asked by the Editorial Board, and it was discovered that one of the questions that the Post asked all candidates who are parents was how they will manage the long hours and stress of an elected position.

Here at Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we are all about transparency, but we also know that not all questions are helpful. Here are the top five reasons why asking a parent if having kids will affect their job performance as an elected official is completely inappropriate and totally unnecessary:

Number 5 Elected office is just one of many demanding jobs that parents perform on a daily basis.

Parents are public school teachers, nurses, police officers, members of the armed forces. If we don’t question if a parent of young children can be deployed, we don’t need to question if a parent can handle local elected office.

Number 4 Childcare is a policy issue. Full stop.

While it is difficult to find and afford high-quality childcare in the DC metro region, we should discuss the issues from a policy perspective, not as a requirement an individual needs to have in place before securing political office.

Number 3 – Answers to this question are not helpful to voters.

There is no way that a candidate, in response to this question, is going to say, “Now that you mention it, that is a problem for me. I shouldn’t run after all.” Of course every candidate is going to say that they can handle the job. They wouldn’t have decided to run otherwise. Therefore, this question doesn’t actually provide any useful information to voters or to the interviewer who asked the question.

Number 2 – Asking this question demonstrates a gender bias.

This is not a question that would have been asked if all of the candidates were male. Now, that is an admittedly presumptuous statement, but we all know it’s true. If all of the candidates were men, no one would question that the dads would be able to do the job. We know this because there are a billion books and articles on “how women can have it all” but not one about how men can. It’s just expected that men can be parents and professionals simultaneously, but people still question if women can.

Number 1 – It is wrong to judge parents differently.

There is a federal law against employers asking potential job candidates about a number of personal things, including if they have kids. This is in place because, presumably, as a country we don’t want to discriminate against parents. True, it is not illegal to ask a political candidate about her family, but the same ethical principle should apply. Parents and non-parents should be considered fairly for a position, based on their merits.

Instances like this help make the case for our work at The Women’s Foundation, where we center the voices and experiences of women and open doors to opportunities. As more diverse voices and experiences are included in leadership conversations, we’ll all start to ask smarter and more appropriate questions.

Census 2020: Let’s Ensure a Complete Count!

The U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States every ten years, but its goal is much more than just a head count. Census data plays a crucial role in the apportionment of congress and the allocation of federal resources across the country.  Businesses also use it to drive key decisions, like where to ship products or where to build new stores. Philanthropy and non-profit organizations rely on Census data to inform their objectives and initiatives. At The Women’s Foundation, we use it frequently to understand how women and girls are faring in our region, and to inform our goals, strategy, grantmaking, and evaluation. (Click here to check out some of the reports and fact sheets we have prepared using data from the Census and the American Community Survey).

An undercount of the population will have far-reaching implications for communities living at the margins. Because of a combination of factors, including structural discrimination, inequitable policies, distrust in the government, and access barriers, census counts disproportionately overlook people of color, people with lower-incomes, children, people with mental and physical disabilities, transient and recently rehoused populations, and non-English speakers.  (Explore this map to see where the hardest-to-count census tracts are in the Washington region.)

This time around, a fraught political climate and a growing digital divide—the 2020 census will be the first to allow residents to respond online—are boosting the odds against an accurate count. It is still unclear whether the census will include the controversial citizenship question the Trump administration proposed to add, but several advocacy organizations have pointed out that the mere proposal of including this question has already deterred many communities from responding.

We believe disaggregated, accurate, accessible, and current data are essential to identifying gaps, understanding which populations experiencing vulnerability need special interventions, and designing and adapting programs and policies that can sustain positive change. To support an accurate census count in our region, the Women’s Foundation joined a group of local funders leveraging resources to make sure everyone counts and everyone is counted.

Along with WRAG, Metropolitan Council of Governments, and 13 other foundations, we are organizing a daylong forum on June 6, 2019, for our Grantee Partners and non-profit organizations in our community to identify and discuss strategies to reach-out to hard-to-count communities. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to help with outreach, you want everyone in your community to get counted, and you would like to meet members of your jurisdiction’s complete count committees, make sure you register for “Interventions that Work: 2020 Census and Hard-to-Reach Communities” before May 30.


Claudia Williams is Program Officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation where she contributes to crafting and executing program strategy and manages the Young Women’s Initiative of Washington, DC

At the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Philanthropy: Engaging Women of Color in Philanthropy

Women have a long history of volunteering their time, talent, and treasure to support worthy causes and solve some of the great challenges our communities face.

Like never before, women of different backgrounds have rising economic, financial, social, and political power thanks to their increased participation in the workforce, educational attainment, and leadership roles. With direct influence over how wealth is spent, the face of philanthropy is changing with women from many cultures and communities of color—Black, Asian, Latina, American Indian, Pacific Islanders, and more—actively participating in giving and volunteering.

As a women’s foundation, centering women as the donors and recipients of funds, we recognize the critical importance of engaging and leveraging the philanthropic potential of all women in our region, and understanding how giving connects them to each other and to the causes they support.

A new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving across Communities of Color, is the first to explore philanthropy at the intersection of race and gender. The report finds that gender differences are consistent across racial groups—women are more likely to give than men are—but, unlike gender, a donor’s race does not have a significant effect on the amount given to charity. When we take into consideration factors like gender, wealth, income, and education, race does not significantly influence giving.

The report challenges common perceptions about who our society sees as philanthropists, and explores the ways in which race influences how organizations engage donors from diverse backgrounds. For example, the report reveals that fundraisers are less likely to approach philanthropists of color. Women Give 2019 highlight studies that show African Americans would donate more if organizations asked them more often, and that Latinos are highly interested in charitable giving, but organizations are less likely to engage with them as often or with the same relationship depth as White donors.


In addition to highlighting findings from quantitative data, the authors of the report conducted six in-depth interviews with women of color philanthropists. In sharing their stories, it is clear that for these women, gender and racial identities shape and guide their philanthropic work. These stories also surface some of the different pathways women take to establish their philanthropy, the unique perspectives and experiences they bring to giving, and highlights the importance of doing more to mentor and engage women of color in philanthropic endeavors.

The biggest challenge facing our community is not a lack of strategies to address the needs of women and girls who are vulnerable to experiencing economic insecurity, but a lack of resources. Women Give 2019 suggests untapped opportunities to increase and catalyze these resources.

Creating a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive culture in philanthropy is also about creating space and opportunities for communities of color, and in particular, women of color, to participate as donors.

Claudia Williams is Program Officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation where she contributes to crafting and executing program strategy and manages the Young Women’s Initiative of Washington, DC

Recommendations to Facilitate Accessible & Affordable Mental Health Services for Young Women of Color in the District of Columbia

Centering the voices and lived experiences of young women of color in identifying challenges and solutions to improve their lives is critical to developing effective interventions to bring about change. Last year, as part of the Young Women’s Initiative, The Women’s Foundation facilitated conversations and conducted interviews with young women of color across DC to learn about their assets and potential, and to understand what challenges inhibit their success.

In these conversations, participants acknowledged the need for prioritizing affordable and accessible mental health and counseling services in DC. The urgency of this unmet need came up in nearly every topic The Women’s Foundation explored. Whether discussing bullying at school, the aftermath of violence, or involvement with the juvenile justice and foster care systems, young women of color talked about mental health supports as an option they need to start a healing journey and move forward.

Mental health supports are critical components of navigating trauma, but the lack of economic resources, narrow provider networks, and high out-of-pocket costs, as well as stigma around mental health issues prevent young women of color from seeking help.


Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey show that in DC young women of color are not receiving the support they need. A high percent of young women of color attending high school, in particular Latinas, experience mental health disorders that prevent them from doing some of their usual activities. In 2017, one out of every ten Latinas attempted suicide, about a quarter seriously considered attempting suicide, and close to half of all interviewed said they felt sad or hopeless.

During May, organizations across the country are rising awareness about mental health, and advocating for policies that support people with mental illnesses and their families. Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and about 75 percent by age 24. Early interventions for young women of color are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the promise of recovery.

Some recommendations to facilitate accessible and affordable mental health services for young women of color in the District of Columbia include:

For school systems:

  • Expand the number of youth-friendly, gender-responsive, trauma-Informed, culturally and linguistically competent counselors available to young women of color all the way from elementary school to college.

For community and youth-serving organizations:

  • Offer free counseling services for young women of color who cannot afford them.
  • Facilitate nonjudgmental and nondiscriminatory peer support among young women of color.

For funders:

  • Invest in cutting-edge research to better understand the mental health needs of young women of color in DC.

For government:

  • Increase and protect funding to provide mental health support and treatment to youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system.

For legislators and policymakers:

  • Remove barriers to access and participation of mental health services.


To read more recommendations and to learn more about ways to support young women of color in DC, click here.

Claudia Williams is Program Officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation where she contributes to crafting and executing program strategy and manages the Young Women’s Initiative of Washington, DC

A Wonder & A Dream

Joanne Hurt is the Executive Director of Wonders Early Learning + Extended Day, Inc., wonderslearning.org and one of the original partners of the Equity in Early Learning Initiative (EELI)

“But, we were raising our daughter to be colorblind.”

It was the week of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday observance, and I was on the phone with an upset mother. The night before, her three-year-old daughter had announced at the dinner table that their family was white. As the Executive Director of an organization which puts social responsibility at the center of its work, our leadership team had agreed that teachers would share age-appropriate stories and biographies with children in our care.  We viewed this collective focus as an important and timely way to educate children about fairness, social justice, and advocacy.

It was not surprising to me that a white parent might think that she was teaching her child about equality by not mentioning race. But children as young as three begin to notice difference, and skin tone is one of the first physical differences that young children express curiosity about. As a white mother myself, my perspective and approach to teaching about race differed.  I would often follow my children’s lead when questions would arise, incorporating into our discussions what I had learned about anti-bias education and racial identity development. The conversation with this parent was more difficult for me to navigate because I was challenging what she considered to be her good intentions.

This conversation sparked a period of reflection, which eventually taught me that as an organizational leader, educator, and parent, I had to do more to create space for broader conversations about race.  While I had done a lot of personal and professional work around diversity, I realized that as a white person and a person in a powerful role in many families’ lives, I had the capacity to influence – and therefore the obligation — to dig deeper into the work that the teaching staff had been engaged in and expand our learning opportunities to the broader school community.

Wonders’ focus on the teachings of King grew out of the work of the Wonders Diversity Committee.  Beginning in 2004, to support children’s identity development and strengthen teachers’ confidence in engaging in conversations, this voluntary staff committee met monthly to educate ourselves on the principles of an anti-bias approach and strategies for implementation. Throughout our organization today, there is a shared commitment to nurture an environment that supports individual identity development and social justice advocacy.  

Since January 2018, Wonders, along with partners School Readiness Consulting and The Campagna Center, has been actively engaged in a regional pilot of the Equity in Early Learning Initiative (EELI), which was funded by the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative, housed at Washington Area Women’s Foundation.  EELI seeks to develop best practices in early childhood leadership, teaching and learning, and family engagement around equity-focused practice; as well as a clear agenda to elevate the DC metro area as an exemplary early learning model for equity leadership and social justice education at the programming, systems, and policy levels.

Through discussion and facilitated training, teachers report feeling more confident in integrating practices that build children’s healthy identity, talking openly about differences, as well as helping children recognize and work against bias and injustice. Parent focus groups identified the need for resources to help families feel more prepared to build their child’s healthy identity, talk openly with their child about human differences, and help their child recognize and work against bias and injustice. Early childhood leaders have learned strategies for leading their respective organizations with a vision and framework for equity.

As a collective, we have defined educational equity as, “the recognition and undoing of historical and systemic injustices that occur within a system. Educational equity is the result of eliminating individual, organizational, and institutional policies and practices that prevent the realization of children’s lifelong learning and self-actualization, regardless of racial, cultural, economic, or any other social factor.”

I am grateful that our work has grown from the early days of the Wonders Diversity Committee to the regional effort that is the Equity in Early Learning Initiative.  Each year when we celebrate as a nation the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I think back to my conversation with the mother who called me all those years ago, and I wonder how my conversation with her would be different today; and I am reminded that equity work is a personal journey, as well as a community responsibility.


Recap: Washington Area Women’s Foundation 20th Anniversary Luncheon

Washington Area Women’s Foundation hosted its annual Leadership Luncheon on October 30, celebrating 20 years and raising over $877,000.  The Foundation honored youth activist Naomi Wadler, who delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of voting. The Luncheon also featured an opening performance by Largo High School Band and a special performance by The Women’s Foundation’s Young Women’s Advisory Council and F.R.E.S.H.H. Inc.

The Leadership Luncheon focused on celebrating and highlighting the work of The Women’s Foundation over the past two decades. The organization highlighted the first Leadership Awardee, Marta Urquilla, Chief Program Officer at the Education Design Lab and former Executive Director of Sister to Sister/Hermana a Hermana. She discussed the impact of the first award saying, “When the Women’s Foundation called us in 1998, it wasn’t the small grant we received that mattered most. It was that the Women’s Foundation SAW us. And in turn, we SAW ourselves and our own success in creating a future where all girls would thrive.”

Young leaders age 12-24 from Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) and Griot Girls of FRESHH Inc Theatre Company performed. The script was developed from the experience of the participating young women with the topic: leadership.

“It takes leadership and intentionality to bring together our community to work toward solutions, and that’s what Washington Area Women’s Foundation has done for 20 years. And it’s what brings us together today. In many ways, we’ve come full circle, and as we look to the future, we will also be returning to our roots,” said Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO, Washington Area Women’s Foundation. “Next year, we will relaunch the Leadership Awards, providing general operating support to smaller organizations working to improve the economic security of women and girls, with a specific focus on women and girls of color.

After the first part of the program discussed young leaders, The Women’s Foundation honored one – Naomi Wadler. “When you are an activist at 12, and it is ONE WEEK, before the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION of certainly MY lifetime if not all of yours, well it’s frustrating,” said Naomi Wadler. “So I thought my shaved, orange hair might motivate all of you.  Motivate you to not only go out and vote because I can not, but to bring every single person you know with you. Truly, tell everyone you know that if some 12 year old girl can shave her head and dye it orange, the least they can do is go and vote!!”

The Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Leadership Luncheon was generously supported by Capital One, Deloitte, iHeartMedia, WASH.FM and Kaiser Permanente among others.

For more information about Washington Area Women’s Foundation or to donate, visit www.thewomensfoundation.org.

DC Race & Wealth Gap: Implications for Philanthropy

DC is in an economic boom. By most measures, the District is thriving, and with an advancing economy, our policymakers and residents are having economic security conversations in ways that we have not seen before—debating the appropriate implementation of paid family leave and the viability of having a separate tipped minimum wage, for example. However, there is a piece of this conversation that is missing from the dialogue: whether the economic boom that DC is experiencing is only for White residents.

You see, there are at least two stats that suggest that Black residents are not benefiting from DC’s prosperity as much as White residents. First, median household income in DC for White families continues to rise and is currently $134,000. However, Black household income has not changed in the last decade and hovers at $42,000.[1] With the cost of housing, child care, and other expenses in DC being as high as they are, any resident can tell you without looking at any stats, that $42,000 is not enough to raise a family here.

The second data point to consider is DC’s staggering Black-White unemployment rate gap. In fact, DC currently has the widest racial unemployment rate divide in the country, with Black residents eight times more likely to be unemployed than White residents.[2]  We know that this gap is not a regional trend. In fact, while Maryland and Virginia also have Black-White unemployment rate gaps, those rates are far less stark than DC’s statistic.

So, if White residents are prospering, but by and large Black residents are not in the same ways, why is this happening? And more importantly, what is the District going to do to about it? The Women’s Foundation has some thoughts about what philanthropy can do.

Two years ago, The Women’s Foundation adopted a racial equity lens, in addition to our existing gender equity lens. This was crucial to our work to support the economic stability of women and girls in the DC region.  What history and our own experience show is that no matter how many job-training programs you fund, the gap between Black and White employment will sustain unless we are intentional about addressing systemic racism across all issue areas and within our own organizations.

We are not alone in this belief. Over the past few years, local and national foundations have increasingly adopted racial equity and/or racial justice lenses, including our local partners Consumer Health Foundation and The Meyer Foundation. We encourage philanthropy to continue to consider the role that systemic racism plays in our systems, regardless of issue area.  Because the economic security of DC’s Black residents is intrinsically tied to academic achievement gaps, practices of redlining in the housing sector, the racial gaps in maternal mortality rates, and all of the other ways that as a society we either overtly repress or simply overlook racial minorities.

We believe that philanthropy cannot conduct business as usual. We need to take a stand, individually and as a sector. Regardless of our giving areas—whether we invest in education, health, workforce development, or the arts—or the communities we focus on—women and girls, young people, older populations, veterans—we can review our giving and organizational practices to ensure we are actively contributing to the reduction of barriers raised by systemic racism.

As a women’s foundation, for us this means ensuring that our work supporting women and girls in the DC region is intentional about how the needs of and opportunities for women and girls of color are reflected in our research, advocacy, and grantmaking. In recent years, we increased the racial and ethnic diversity of our staff; launched a Young Women’s Initiative to spotlight the voices of young women of color in DC; and worked with the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative, housed at The Women’s Foundation, to incorporate a racial equity lens into its grantmaking and to provide racial equity training for its Grantee Partners. This is just the beginning. We continue to work to ensure that our operational practices and programmatic work are community-led and intentionally supportive of women and girls of color.

Other foundations will implement racial equity differently and focus on different populations and issue areas. That excites us. We look forward to collaborating with other philanthropic entities toward a holistic systems change effort that could affect all genders and age groups across all issue areas.

We encourage foundations that are interested in implementing a racial equity lens to reach out to us about our journey or to Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers to inquire about the racial equity work they are doing with their members. Because the first step on this journey is asking questions and starting a conversation.

[1] DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC’s Growing Prosperity Is Not Reaching Black Residents, Census Data Show. https://www.dcfpi.org/all/dcs-growing-prosperity-is-not-reaching-black-residents-census-data-show/?utm_source=DCFPI+Blog+Subscribers&utm_campaign=b03f319f34-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_71c838dca1-b03f319f34-111156113

[2] WAMU, DC’s Black Unemployment Rate Remains among Highest in the Country. https://wamu.org/story/18/05/18/d-c-s-black-unemployment-rate-remains-among-highest-country/

October 11th Is Not Just a Day, It’s A Movement…

Seven years ago, the United Nations deemed October 11 International Day of the Girl with the goal to “galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, promoting opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” Around the world, this day is recognized by a focus on advocacy related to issues that impact young women and girls and celebrations of the strength and enduring spirits of young women.

As a foundation focused on supporting the economic stability of women and girls in our region, The Women’s Foundation carries the intent of the Day of the Girl with us every day. It is the impetus behind all of our work, but our project that speaks most directly to the intent of October 11 is our Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), which is a District-wide effort to improve life outcomes and increase opportunities for cis and transgender young women of color and gender expansive youth of color between the ages of 12-24.

There are multiple facets to this exciting work that we have phased in systematically; First starting with listening sessions to hear directly from young women of color in DC about what they need and want in order to realize their life goals. Second, we launched a Young Women’s Advisory Council to formalize the feedback we received from young women of color and to serve as the guiding voice of the project. We, in partnership with the Young Women’s Advisory Council, hosted the GirlsLEAD Summit in March, which provided leadership and life skills workshops to 300 local young women.  And most recently, we released a Blueprint for Action, which takes the collective voice of several hundred young women and girls of color with whom we have engaged through YWI and puts forth their recommendations for an improved Washington, DC, that better supports their needs and ability to thrive.

Today, on this Day of the Girl 2018, we are excited to announce the launch of YWI’s Rock Star Fund. The Rock Star Fund will provide micro-grants to individual young women and girls to support their own leadership development and help them advance advocacy or community development projects in their neighborhoods and schools. We are piloting the Rock Star Fund this year by inviting attendees of the GirlsLEAD Summit to apply for up to $2,000 each to support their projects. The goal of the Rock Star Fund is exactly the goal of the Day of the Girl – to promote opportunities for young women and girls to show leadership.  Applicants will tell us what their leadership development needs are, and members of the Young Women’s Advisory Council well help select the Awardees. This is participatory grantmaking at it’s best – developed by young women of color, for young women of color, and led by young women of color.

While this year’s pilot will be by invitation only, we look forward to opening up applications more broadly in subsequent years. If you have questions about your eligibility for the Rock Star Fund this year, please contact Claudia Williams at cwilliams@wawf.org or call us at 202-347-7737. Applications are due on November 8, 2018.