We are feminists for racial, economic, and gender justice.

We are generous with and for each other.

We invest in community power.

We train community-based leaders to advocate for equitable policies.

We connect and collaborate across issues and sectors.

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We are feminists for racial, economic, and gender justice.

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Our approach is intersectional and inclusive

The Women’s Foundation of California is a statewide, publicly supported community foundation dedicated to achieving gender, racial, and economic justice by centering the experience and expertise of communities most impacted by systemic injustice. Our work is guided by three core strategic pillars: invest, train, and connect.

photo: Gina Clayton, Founder & Executive Director, Essie Justice Group

Our Vision

We envision a California where all our communities are healthy, safe, and economically secure.

  • 1 out of 8 people in the US live in California.
  • CA is now the world's fifth largest economy.
  • California has the highest poverty rate in the country.

“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 Clayton, Founder & Executive Director of Essie Justice Group

California's Community Foundation for Gender Justice, Racial, and Economic Justice

Unlike private foundations, which are endowed with funds from a family’s wealth or corporate earnings, community foundations gather their financial contributions from the public — from individuals, families, businesses, and private institutions who want to support social change. To learn more about our work, sign up for our email alerts, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also join our work by becoming a donor. Whether $5, $50, $500, or $5M, we can all be philanthropists for gender justice!

“When other parts of the country are fending off unyielding attacks on basic rights, we in California are advancing significant change and keeping pace with the march of progress.”

We are generous with and for each other.

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Our origins lie in the power
of women changing the world
through their generosity

As we approach our 40th anniversary, we take note of the historical mark we have made as one of the first women's foundations in the country.

photo: Katie Joaquin, Former Campaign Director, Mujeres Unidas y Activas in Oakland, WPI-State alum

Our Origin Story

The founders of the Women's Foundation of California believed that, as women, we have the right and the power to change the world through our philanthropy. Indeed, when a woman is philanthropic, she acquires not just influence, but agency and joyful purpose.

As we approach our work through a critical and inclusive gender lens, we focus on the experiences, concerns, and leadership of cisgender and transgender women, non-binary and genderqueer and transgender men.

  • Nationally, only 4% of philanthropic funding supports girls and women
  • For LGBTQ+ population, the funding numbers drop to 0.38%!

Whether we are able to give $5, $50, $500, or $5 Million, everyone can experience the power and purpose of contributing to social change. Philanthropy belongs to everyone.

We invest in community power.

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We invest
in community with
trust and flexibility

We have a 40-year track record of gender justice grantmaking. Through the Community Power Fund launched in 2018, the Foundation invests in strategies that advance gender justice along the continuum of power building, including community organizing, policy advocacy, civic participation, integrated voter engagement, and culture change. These efforts coalesce around the three core components of our vision: health, safety, and economic justice.

photo: Sara Spriggs, Operations Manager, ACCESS Women's Health Justice, a WFC grant partner

The Community Power Fund

The Community Power Fund supports California organizations working in coalitions to create systemic change around important gender justice issues: pay equity, affordable childcare, ending gender-based violence, workplace protections, fair and just housing, ending exclusionary school disciplinary policies, criminal justice reform, reproductive health and justice, and environmental health and justice.

  • Our grantmaking prioritizes organizations led by and for leaders of color, low-income women, immigrant women, transgender women and girls, non-binary and genderqueer people, transgender men, and LGBTQIA+ leaders.

“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 Spriggs, Operations Manager, ACCESS Women’s Health Justice,  on the importance of abortion access

Those Closest to the Problem are in the Best Position to Solve it

Our new grantmaking guidelines are designed to be streamlined and nimble, because we trust our community-based partners as the experts, best suited to solve their communities' problems. In its simplified application and reporting processes, our Community Power Fund removes burdensome requirements and liberates our partners to focus on building community power. We hope this will become a model adopted broadly throughout the philanthropic sector.

Funds we granted 50 organizations in 2017

“When you give a woman a voice, you give her the knowledge of her own power and that she has control of her life and her children’s life and her community. That is giving somebody freedom.”Kim Carter, former WPI Fellow and founder of the Time For a Change Foundation

We train community-based leaders to advocate for equitable policies.

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We train leaders
who transform California
through an intersectional approach

2018 marks the 15th year of our flagship leadership training program, the Women's Policy Institute (WPI-State), the fourth year of Women's Policy Institute - Local (WPI-Local), and the second year of our newest policy training program, Philanthropy & Public Policy Institute (PPPI). Through these initiatives, we are engaged in training, activating, and networking leaders throughout the state who work at many levels (activist, organizer, policy-maker, funder) to drive the gender justice agenda across the state of California.

photo: Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, Executive Director, SOMOS Mayfair, a grassroots community-based organization in the historical Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose and WFC grant partner

Women's Policy Institute - State and Local Fellowship

Since 2003, the Women's Foundation of California has trained grassroots community leaders through WPI-State, a year-long fellowship and public policy training program. The Women’s Policy Institute model is unique because we’re not just investing in individual leaders. We’re investing in established and rising leaders as well as their organizations. By training fellows to become public policy experts, we are building the capacity of their organizations to find viable, community-specific solutions to injustice.

  • 90 pieces of legislation advanced to the Governors desk - 32 bills signed into law.
  • Statewide network of more than 450 alums, bringing policy and power back to their communities.
  • In 2015, we expanded our groundbreaking WPI-State program to the local level.
  • Program replicated in five states across the nation.

Our more than 450 WPI alums return to their communities better equipped to create and influence policy and improve their communities.

SB 24: the College Student Right to Access Act

Sponsored by the 2017 WPI Reproductive Justice Team, SB 24 (formerly SB 320) is working to expand access to reproductive resources for students at CA public universities. The College Student Right to Access Act, ensures that students at UCs and CSU campuses have access to medication abortion and scientifically accurate abortion counseling on campus, removing the time and cost barriers that currently exist. If passed, this policy will be the first of its kind in the country, and serve as a model for other states in expanding reproductive health services.

Our Role
The Women’s Foundation of California has partnered with Students United for Reproductive Justice and other reproductive justice organizations to create the justCARE campaign.

“With our democracy at stake, it has never been more important to double down on supporting leaders from impacted communities to be able to shape the new world we all desire. The Women's Policy Institute does just that: Puts the power of the government back in the hands of people and moves us closer to the democracy we all deserve.”Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter

Philanthropy and Public Policy Institute

Our track record of supporting progressive policy advocacy and systems change across the state, along with our unique position between funders and activists spawned the creation of the Philanthropy and Public Policy Institute (PPPI) in 2017. Modeled after WPI, PPPI is an experiential-learning program that trains philanthropists and representatives of public and private foundations, family foundations, municipal governments, and individual philanthropists in the public policy process. Through PPPI, these funders become more effective investors in community-led advocacy efforts and receive networking opportunities with legislators and community advocates.

3 days
The cohort meets over three days in early May to coincide with our annual Legislative Reception.

“Philanthropy, not only here in California but across the nation, has the opportunity — and a responsibility — to support advocacy work that is critical to ensuring that California, and the United States, continue to lead the way to a better, fairer, safer world.”Surina Khan, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California and Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-30th District)

We connect and collaborate across issues and sectors.

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We connect people
across sectors to promote
learning and collaboration

With a four-decade track record as the state's gender justice foundation, we are an enthusiastic convener of our movement partners from around the state and beyond. The Foundation was founded on the ideal of the power of the collective. The third pillar of our strategy connects nonprofit and grassroots leaders, WPI fellows and alums, donors and policy leaders, advocates, grant partners and grantmakers in a variety of convenings and learning opportunities that will collectively build and advance gender justice in California.

photo: Sara-Cate Jones, Program Manager, Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare (TEACH), WFC grant partner

Convenings and Events

Visit our Events page to learn more about our forthcoming activities, and our News page to stay up-to-date!

From our origins in the second wave of Feminism to the age of #MeToo, we are proud to stand at the center of a strong, progressive, and inclusive gender-justice movement for California.