Invest: Grantmaking for the Future

The Women’s Foundation of California has a track record of supporting community-based organizations working to address the root causes of inequity and advance solutions across a broad range of issues led by women and girls—especially women of color, low-income women, immigrant women and LGBTQIA+ people.

We are often the first funder of organizations that go on to play a critical role in movement strategies to advance gender justice. We were, for example, the first funder of the Young Women’s Freedom Center (formerly the Center for Young Women’s Development), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, the Community Water Center, ACT for Women and Girls, and the California Healthy Nail Salons Collaborative. We have also incubated emerging organizations, including Essie Justice Group, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Alliance for Girls, and La Cocina. We are honored to remain in coalition with many of these organizations who are major forces at the local, state, and national levels.

Within our new strategic framework, and through our new multi-issue Community Power Fund, the Foundation will continue to invest 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 will coalesce around three core issue areas: health, safety, and economic justice. Our grantmaking will support organizations working on pay equity, affordable childcare, ending gender-based violence, workplace protections, ending exclusionary school disciplinary policies, criminal justice reform, reproductive health and justice, and environmental health and justice.

Our new, responsive grantmaking guidelines and practices reflect our trust in community-based leaders as the experts, because we know that people closest to the problems in their communities are best situated to design the solutions. The Community Power Fund will model for the philanthropic sector a simplified application and reporting processes that will remove burdensome requirements and liberate our partners to focus on building community power.

Given the urgency of many of the issues our partners are dealing with, we have opted to prioritize general operating support, and to streamline the grant decision process from months to weeks, and, in some instances, days. Because we put relationships with our partners first, the application process will accommodate multiple formats; in addition to the written request, we will accept applications by video, and in some cases, through phone interviews. Progress reports will also be simplified, and we will accept them in multiple formats. We’ve heard our partners’ feedback and observed trends in the foundation sector, and are excited to deploy this simplified and more direct process as we build the fund.