We are building power.

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We are strengthening our communities.

We are connecting people.

We are achieving big wins.

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We are building power.

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Gina Clayton,
Founder & Executive Director
Essie Justice Group

Gina is the founder and executive director of the Essie Justice Group, an organization of women with incarcerated loved ones mobilizing to end mass incarceration’s harm to women and communities.

In her first year as a student at Harvard Law School, someone Gina loved was sentenced to 20 years in prison. From her experience working as a housing attorney in a holistic public defense practice, Gina saw the destructive effects of mass incarceration on women and families from South Los Angeles to Harlem.


Empowering women from healing to advocacy

Although Gina knew over two million incarcerated people had to translate into millions of women left behind to pick up the pieces, she found no statistics to support this until a study quantified what she was seeing in communities.

  • 1 in 4 women in the United States has a family member in prison
  • 1 in 2 black women in the United States has a family member in prison

“Mass incarceration is a human rights issue, it’s an economic justice issue, it’s a race issue–and it’s a woman’s issue.” – Gina

Igniting change

Following Essie’s founding in 2014, the Women’s Foundation became the group’s fiscal sponsor, provided office space, and awarded a grant of $15,000 to the organization through the Race, Gender and Human Rights Giving Circle. Essie’s nine-week program is designed to guide participants from “Healing to Advocacy” by confronting stigma, shame, and isolation while engaging women as leaders and agents of change.

“Women are the unpaid re-entry system of this country. Every day, we rely on women to usher families and communities through the trauma of incarceration, even after release.”Gina

The near future

In the next year, Gina, her team, and member leaders will work to reach thousands of women across the country through Essie’s Healing to Advocacy model and National Survey of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones. Essie is building to ensure their isolation-breaking program is no more than 30 minutes away from any woman with an incarcerated loved one in the US.

40 million
Their goal is to reach, empower and ignite the one in four women in the U.S. with incarcerated loved ones—40 million women nationally.

“When women come together, social change happens. Now is the time to harness our collective power and end mass incarceration.”Gina

We are training leaders.

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Sara Spriggs,
Operations Manager
ACCESS Women’s Health Justice

ACCESS Women's Health Justice removes barriers to sexual and reproductive health care and builds the power of Californians to demand health, justice and dignity.


Barriers to abortion and care

Although abortion is legal in California, and some pregnant people face fewer legal barriers than those in other states, many across the state are still forced to travel, miss work or school to reach a clinic, and do not have adequate information about their reproductive rights.

ACCESS works to decrease these barriers through a compassionate informational hotline and a volunteer network that helps provide transportation, overnight housing, and translation for people people seeking abortions. Their goal is to ensure everyone can decide whether, when, and how to parent.

“In my time working on the health line and speaking with people from across the state, I really started to understand abortion being legal means very little if abortion care is not accessible in people’s communities.” — Sara, on the importance of abortion access

Championing student access

As a Women's Policy Institute (WPI) fellow, Spriggs worked on the College Student Right to Access Act, Senate Bill 320, which would expand abortion access for students at public colleges in California. The impetus for this bill came from the students at UC Berkeley who were experiencing a need in their community and began advocating for this policy. The bill, if passed, would make it easier for students who, in order to obtain an abortion, have to travel, disclose their situation, miss work and class.

SB 320
Authored by State Senator Connie Leyva, SB 320 will require all public higher education institutions with student health centers to provide medication abortion for students.

“The WPI program brings with it a very powerful network, so I think one of the most positive experiences for me has actually been the other fellows, and coming to understand the issues they’re working on more deeply and making those connections in a supportive peer environment within the fellowship.”Sara

The work continues

Through participating in WPI, Sara has helped ACCESS maintain their seat at the table and a presence in Sacramento. For a grassroots organization like ACCESS, this presence is crucial to help build and grow their policy advocacy and power. As a co-sponsor of SB 320, ACCESS is playing an important role in the work to make the abortion pill on campus a reality. Their campaign is called Just CARE: Campus Action for Reproductive Equity.

43%
In 2014, 43% of California counties had no clinics that provided abortions

“We envision a future where reproductive health services are available to all students who need them, wherever we live or go to school.”Just CARE: Campus Action for Reproductive Equity

We are strengthening our communities.

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Camille Llanes-Fontanilla,
Executive Director
SOMOS Mayfair, a grassroots community-based organization in the historical Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose

Camille Llanes-Fontanilla


Leading the way

Over the past 20 years SOMOS Mayfair has addressed issues ranging from community development to health and wellness to their current focus on education issues. At the core of their work is their unique ability to engage neighborhood residents to uplift their voice, leadership, and collective action to be agents of transformative change. SOMOS is recognized nationally for its ability to integrate direct service provision with community organizing and its Promotor (peer education) Model.

Camille was born and raised in east San Jose and her grandparents lived in the heart of the Mayfair neighborhood. Through her lived experience as a second generation immigrant attending east San Jose schools, Camille’s values strongly aligned with the mission and vision of SOMOS Mayfair. She joined the team in 2010, bringing her expertise in nonprofit management, communications and fund development to the organization. She became the Executive Director in 2013.

  • Mayfair is home to 13,103 residents, predominately first and second generation Mexican-origin families, with a growing Asian population
  • The median household income is $44,877 (one third of the median income of Santa Clara County.)

Since 2012, SOMOS has trained 209 Promotores who worked directly in the community, serving 5,500+ children and adults, led the ‘Bridge To Kinder’ (BTK) Summer Program for 500+ kids and their families, ensuring a good start for those who had not benefitted from preschool, and conducted 462 individualized child assessments ensuring they are developmentally on track for early literacy success and 500+ parents gained skills to support their child’s learning.

Empowering collective leadership

SOMOS’ work is centered around their Promotor Leadership Development Program where community members train to become Promotores, or peer educators. Through this program, they develop the skills to address their own personal crises, but also to analyze the systems that often create poor community conditions and how to take collective action to generate change. Bolstered by grants from the Women’s Foundation, this approach reinforces a sense of community and shared power by understanding that power and leadership can and should be reciprocal—where an individual does not gain power over others, but with them and that people can be both teachers and learners at the same time.

“In addition to the funding support for our programs over the years, the Women's Foundation has created spaces for learning, networking and thought partnership, all aligned with our organizational values of building deep and intentional relationship with other another to achieve a common goal.”Camille

Innovative programs and results

With the investment and support from the Women’s Foundation, SOMOS has been able to codify its Promotor Model and expand it to give Promotores increased access to economic opportunities and mobility outside of Mayfair. In the first six months, the expanded SOMOS Fuertes program has seen tangible results.

30%
Participants expanded their skills to support economic mobility by 30% in just six months.

“SOMOS Mayfair has helped me and many community members realize their dreams, including opening doors to meaningful careers. I am excited for the new program they are unveiling. ”Teresa, participant

We are connecting people.

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Sara-Cate Jones,
Program Manager
Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare (TEACH)

TEACH is an academic-community partnership whose goal is to expand reproductive health access by helping primary care providers and residencies integrate abortion training into their curricula and practice, and become leaders in comprehensive reproductive health care.


Filling the gaps in reproductive education

As program manager, Sara Cate helps primary care clinicians integrate abortion services into their practices, ensuring that reproductive choice is available for more women.

In the Bay Area, TEACH supports family medicine residents in first trimester abortion training. Throughout California, they support advocacy efforts by involving trainees in the American Academy of Family Physicians and an annual Lobby Day. Across the country and around the world, TEACH regularly updates the abortion curriculum that is used by family doctors, ob/gyns, and advanced practice clinicians.

  • TEACH has trained 704 family medicine residents, who have gone onto provide abortion services in 12 cities in the US.

From clinical training to policy advocacy

The Women’s Foundation’s investment in TEACH has enabled the program to expand the training opportunities for third year residents before they graduate. Not only does TEACH incorporate advocacy into its training by encouraging residents to become involved in their professional organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, but it has introduced an annual lobby day for doctors and residents to travel to Sacramento. Building political power for doctors also builds political power for their patients.

984
Early Abortion Training Workbook has been used by 984 people in 1,345 sessions.

“The Women’s Foundation is really dedicated to our success, not just in a financial capacity, but in a structural and organizational capacity.”Sara-Cate

Investing to support and expand

TEACH relies on the Women's Foundation not only for funding, but for support and guidance as they continue to grow the scope of their work and their organization. The Women's Foundation has provided support from nonprofit management to the logistics of starting a board. TEACH recently launched the fifth edition of their Early Abortion Training Workbook, which contains an all-inclusive and free curriculum for training reproductive health care providers for to competency—a resource that has been used not only in the US, but across the world.

We are achieving big wins.

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Katie Joaquin,
Former Campaign Director
Mujeres Unidas y Activas in Oakland

As a 2011 Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) fellow, Katie worked to further the long-standing movement to secure labor protections for domestic workers.


Leading the way

Joaquin and other advocates were mobilized by the story of Vilma Serralta, a housekeeper who sued her employers claiming they paid her only $1,000 to $1,300 per month, but forced her to work 14 hours a day, six days a week cleaning, cooking and taking care of the couple’s daughter.

With the 69-year old housekeeper leading the way, dozens of workers demonstrated in front of the mansion Serralta had once cleaned.

The majority of domestic workers are immigrant women, and a 2004 survey conducted by the Women’s Foundation of California and MUA highlighted the many labor violations they endure.

  • More than 1 in 10 domestic workers surveyed by the Foundation earned less than minimum wage.
  • Majority of domestic workers surveyed did not receive meal or rest breaks.

When Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, it intentionally excluded domestic workers because they were primarily African-American women who were not considered equal to other workers. In addition, many policy makers did not consider work in the home—historically done by women—as real work. California followed federal laws in excluding domestic workers in basic employment protections. In recent years, many domestic workers were scared of deportation and did not know about recourses available through the law. So they remained silent about their workplace conditions.

Refusing to back down

Although two governors vetoed different versions of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and many interest groups objected, Joaquin and her WPI team continued to work on the bill from 2011 through 2016, using their training and resources from the Institute to get eventually get bipartisan and private sector support. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown finally signed on, too, and in 2016 the law was made permanent

100,000
domestic workers now receive daily and weekly overtime pay

“There are certain moments in life when you’re facing something that you’re scared to do and you decide to do it anyway – and it changes you forever.”Katie Joaquin, on the march with Serralta

Strength of a movement

As WPI fellows, Joaquin and her team studied how policy and politics work by working on the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. They had the opportunity to not only shape the bill but also to advocate for its passage in Sacramento, among legislators, and interest groups, and to raise awareness within communities affected by the law.

“She was always working, always thinking and always strategizing.”WPI team member Claudia Reyes of Joaquin