Michelle Cale Educates a New Generation of Women Philanthropists - Women's Foundation California

michelle-cale-wp“People always think that only rich men like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are philanthropists. I believe that if you’re doing something for the common good, you’re acting in a philanthropic way and are being a philanthropist. This word, “philanthropist,” is a powerful word we women and girls need to embrace and claim,” said Michelle Cale, philanthropist, Women’s Foundation of California board member and member of our Women of Silicon Valley Donor Circle.

Michelle grew up in Birmingham, England, daughter of working class parents who believed in the value of education, despite having few opportunities themselves. Her father used to tell her, “No matter what happens, they can never take your education away from you.” As a result, Michelle, who has a Ph.D in history, is committed to using philanthropy to help young people get access to higher education.

But this year, Michelle is thinking about education with a different objective in mind. She’s teaching a class in philanthropy at her daughter’s middle school in Palo Alto.

“I designed this nine-week elective course to help these young girls—half of whom are 11 years old—choose where they would like to volunteer,” Michelle told us.

“And along the way, I’m trying to get them to embrace this idea of being a philanthropist. I don’t think there’s any reason why they should not be thinking philanthropically at this age.”

Michelle sees a leadership role for herself in educating a new generation of women philanthropists. She is showing them that philanthropy is not something you have to wait to do when you’re older, but something you can do at any age.

“I want to provide them with  some things  to think about and then ask, Now what sparks your imagination? I want them to see that they can do more in the world, that they can have an idea and do something with it. I want them to know that they can be agents in their communities and that they can start today.”


Soon after we published our annual report, WFC board member Michelle Cale was among 11 women philanthropists featured in the December issue of San Francisco magazine. We’re also pleased to note that another of our board members, Gretchen Sandler, was also featured in the magazine’s December issue. You can read the article here.

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