photo from Black Women for Wellness, one of the sixteen organizations receiving multiyear grants.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
– Arundhati Roy
Next month, Women’s Foundation California will give out our first ever round of multiyear grants to 16 organizations on the frontlines of change.
This is a big deal for us as an organization and how we invest in critical movements for racial, economic, and gender justice across California. Our commitment to multiyear, unrestricted grantmaking ensures that our communities have not only the dollars, but the trust and the time required to transform our world. It’s both an honor and a point of pride to resource our grant partner organizations on a three-year timeline that more accurately reflects the long arc of change.
The philanthropic reality is most BIPOC-led organizations like those that are part of our grant partner community are not funded over the long haul. As we celebrate this milestone for us, we look forward to the day when we can grow our grants to fund on a five or even 10 year cycle.
When it comes to building the intersectional feminist future we know is possible, we need to invest in organizations led by women, women of color, and gender expansive folks. Those investments are made all the more powerful when those dollars are accompanied by trust and by time.
It’s About Time
We’ve wanted to do multiyear grantmaking for a long time. We have been focusing our funding in this way for decades and now it is officially part of our grantmaking work. We are able to commit to funding our grant partners on a multiyear timeline because a critical base of our funding partners are making long term commitments with us. Now is the time to increase and expand that funding.
It is time to double down and look at the long horizon of change. Building the relationships and funding partnerships to make that investment possible took time. Year-in and year-out, we’ve fundraised and resourced powerful leaders and movements creating progressive, feminist policy wins, culture shifts, and a vibrant leadership ecosystem we see today. Beyond the boom and bust cycles of annual fundraising, this deep power building is the result of generations of freedom fighters, visionaries, organizers, and supporters who believed in and backed their movements for change.
Multiyear general operating dollars (MYGOD!) grantmaking may well be a best practice, but it’s not the norm in how foundations and donors move money to groups, organizations, and movements. In fact, it continues to be the hardest funding to come by – particularly for BIPOC-led and serving organizations.
Whether we’re talking about the gender pay gap or miniscule percentage of philanthropic dollars invested in women and girls of color, the underinvestment in and systemic exclusion of wealth building for women of color and gender expansive folks meant that we needed time to build the financial capital that would make multiyear grantmaking possible. Because change takes time.
The recently leaked SCOTUS draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade is a stark reminder of the decades that it takes to both achieve and unravel meaningful change. This catastrophic decision has been coming for a long time and women of color on the frontlines of reproductive justice have been saying so for years.
What is also true is that the response has also been building for years. Part of the reason that California is poised to be a reproductive freedom state has to do with the work that our grant partners and Solís Policy Institute fellows and alums like ACCESS Reproductive Justice, Black Women for Wellness, California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice – have been doing for decades.
It’s About Trust
Our ability to realize the liberatory, anti-racist, feminist future we desire depends on redistributing and reallocating California’s immense assets to make bold, flexible, long-term investments in today’s visionary leaders and movements — to put our full trust in their leadership today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.
As one of the earliest public foundations committed to funding feminist movements in the largest state in the US, Women’s Foundation California is proud to invest in the work and leadership of our grant partners with flexible funding and fewer restrictive requirements. We’re also proud of our philanthropic partners who with their three or more years of core support recognize the opportunities that trust-based, long-term funding commitments make possible: Lesbians for Good Fund, Mabel Fund, Meadow Fund, Susan Pritzker, Yellow Chair Foundation and our leading trust-based philanthropy colleagues in California and nationally. Creating new norms of shifting resources and building long-term power takes all of us – and more of us – so consider this a standing invitation to all funders to join with us!
Gender has to be front and center in our actions, in our investments, because it’s front and center in our lives. Nobody is a winner when women and gender expansive folks lose out on funding. Whether it’s the recently passed California Momnibus bill to keep Black and brown pregnant people alive or creating safety and liberation in sex work, feminist policy is good for everyone. Multiyear grantmaking is part of how we build more good for more Californians right now and into the future.
Multiyear Grant Partners
ACCESS Reproductive Justice
ACT for Women and Girls
Black Women for Wellness
California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
Community Water Center
Khmer Girls in Action
Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
TGI Justice Project
Young Women’s Freedom Center
Women’s Health Specialists