Women & Girls of Color Fund

Racial justice is fundamental to gender equity and economic justice

  • Overview

    Women of Color Contribute Immensely to Our Communities

    Yet they are undervalued and underinvested in. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s (WFCO) Women & Girls of Color Fund is a community-developed, community-led field of interest fund for women-of-color-led organizations serving women and girls of color focused on advancing economic security across Colorado. The fund deepens our long-time commitment to meaningful, intentional investment in women and girls of color.

    Women and girls of color are assets to our communities. By collaborating with and investing in them, we are investing in their inherent gifts and invaluable contributions to our communities.

  • Our Commitments

    Through the Women & Girls of Color Fund, we commit to:

    BUILD upon our commitment to equity and women of color in our WAGES grantmaking work
    INCREASE investments in work led by women of color that transform the lives of women and girls of color with a focus on advancing and accelerating their economic security. We trust the leadership of women of color to know how to make the greatest difference for their community
    PRIORITIZE what philanthropy traditionally considers too “risky” or new to fund as well as innovative strategies developed through the lived experiences of women of color
    FACILITATE a community-led grantmaking process, which centers the voices and priorities of women of color

  • Background

    Racial Inequity is Built Into Philanthropic Norms

    Echoing Green and Bridgespan, two leading philanthropic organizations, found in a recent research report that “racial inequity is built into philanthropic norms.” Black- and Latino-led organizations face significant disparities in revenue, assets, and acquired funding. Gender only compounds these disparities, despite the monumental achievements of grassroots, women-of-color-led initiatives.

    As the only community foundation in our state focused on Colorado women and their families, it is up to us to change that. From the purpose, goals, creation, and management of the fund, we are committed to rejecting the problematic philanthropic norms that cause women of color to receive just .5% of all philanthropic dollars.

  • Process

    Listening, Learning, Taking Action

    Throughout the summer of 2020, WFCO will work with a committee of women of color from across the state to develop an innovative, equitable framework for the Women & Girls of Color Fund. We are also seeking feedback from the broader community. We invite you take the survey below and share with your networks to help us understand what women and girls in your community need most from this fund on the path to economic security.

    We commit to transparency in this process and will continue to share what we learn. We look forward to launching the fund in the fall of 2020.

    Check back here for updates and sign up for our emails to be the first to know as we release our findings.

Women & Girls of Color Fund


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Rooted in WFCO's mission of catalyzing community to advance and accelerate economic opportunity, the Women & Girls of Color Fund will be community-designed and community-led. Throughout the summer of 2020, we are taking time to listen to what women and girls of color want to see from this fund, what communities of color across Colorado need most from this fund, and how nonprofits and community leaders need us to show up. We look forward to sharing what we learn along the way.

Our Journey

In matters of equity and inclusion, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado recognizes that we are all on a journey. Transformational change and striving for true equity and liberation from white supremacy in a complex society will always be a process, rather than a destination. And in this process, we remain very aware that language is important—both as a reflection of who we are, and in how it directly affects those we work in partnership with. This statement on how we use the term “woman” and how we explain our focus on people of color is offered not as an end point, but as a beginning, a jumping-off point from which to invite others into this crucial dialog on diversity and inclusion we find ourselves in at this moment. As we learn, our language will evolve just as we evolve. But our goal is always, always to be as inclusive and as anti-racist as possible. We welcome your thoughts, ideas, critique, and feedback, and to taking this equity journey with you and our community.

What do we mean by "woman" and why do we include non-binary people of color in our work?

Simply put, transgender women are women. Anyone who identifies as a woman, including cisgender and transgender women, is a woman and we welcome them into our community and the Women & Girls of Color Fund.

In 1987 when The Women's Foundation of Colorado was founded, our founding mothers and society by-and-large viewed gender as a binary. Our society was constructed with a patriarchal hierarchy designed to benefit, and exclude anyone who was not, a cisgender, heterosexual, white, man. Those who did not benefit from the patriarchal system were cis women. Today, The Women's Foundation acknowledges that we must work in partnership with everyone who does not benefit from historical gender power structures, including cisgender and transgender women and nonbinary people.

What do we mean by woman or person of color?

On WFCO's journey toward liberation and equity, we commit to our community to continually work to be explicit in naming groups and issues, rather than generalizing or euphamizing. Black, Indigeneous, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and specific backgrounds and ethnic groups within those broader populations should be named, rather than grouped in to acronyms such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) when that is what we actually mean. By people of color, we mean people who have been historically impacted by colonialism, slavery, and state violence based on the color of their skin and people who today experience violence, oppression, discrimination, and racism because of the color of their skin.

Intersectionality and centering the most marginalized

Women of color are not a monolith. Philanthropy, The Women's Foundation, and the Women & Girls of Color Fund must make intersectionality a mission and funding priority. Women of color receive just .5% of each dollar that philanthropy grants out each year. We're committed to changing that, including prioritizing the most marginalized women of color leaders, including but not limited to trans women, nonbinary people, LGBTQI people, women with disabilities, rural women, immigrants and refugees, etc.

An Asset-based Approach

Women of color, girls of color, and nonbinary people of color are assets. Their heritage, traditions, experiences, work, and communities are gifts and they make us all better. They do not need to be empowered, they do not need philanthropy to save them. What we can, and must, do is use our power and privilege to dismantle the unjust systems that were created to oppress communities of color. Our approach will focus on their assets that will create a better future for all of us.

 Our Principles

  • Trans women are women. People who do not benefit from existing gender power structures, including nonbinary people of color, are included and welcomed in The Women's Foundation of Colorado's work.
  • Women of color, girls of color, and nonbinary people of color don't need us to empower them. Their assets, gifts, power, and potential need investment by institutions that traditionally ignore or patronize them. We will use an asset-based approach to this work.
  • The Women and Girls of Color Fund is equally by and for women of color, girls of color, and non-binary people of color.
  • We trust women of color, girls of color, and nonbinary people of color to know how best to invest in their community.
  • Philanthropy is at the service of the nonprofit sector and of our communities. The best way to use our power is to offer funding, relationships, and capacity building and let our communities lead our priorities.
  • Centering lived experience as an essential skill, knowledgebase, and qualification as we invest in women of color leaders is critical to trust-based philanthropy.
  • We reject the traditional philanthropic norms that uphold the grossly inequitable distribution of resources to women of color that deem women-of-color-led work as "risky."
  • We will prioritize the most marginalized communities, leaders, and initiatives in our funding.

 Why Women & Girls of Color?

WFCO’s mission, vision, and values compel us to use an intersectional lens in all of our work. Our research and evaluation give us the hard facts that ground our commitment to investing specifically in the economic security of women and girls of color. Women of color face greater disparities in health outcomes, pay, wealth, access to capital, and more. At the same time, women of color contribute immensely to the health, well-being, and advancement of our communities. Economic security and direct investments in women and girls of color help level the playing field and create pathways to prosperity where there were once hurdles.

Despite the monumental achievements of grassroots, women-of-color-led movements, women of color are undervalued and underinvested in. Ms. Foundation's "Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More With Less" found that philanthropic giving to women and girls of color made up just .5% of all philanthropic giving. As Colorado's only community foundation focused on women and their families, we are committed to changing that. We trust the leadership and lived experiences of women of color to know the best solutions to creating economic opportunity for their communities.

Read our recent blog post, "Learning from Our History: Investing in Women and Girls of Color" by Camisha Lashbrook, donor relations manager.

 Racial Equity is Part of Our Mission

This Women & Girls of Color Fund is an extension of our existing investments in advancing the economic security of women of color through our programmatic WAGES research, public policy advocacy, and grantmaking. Women and families of color make up 72.9% of our WAGES program constituents and nearly half of our direct service grantees are led by women of color. Of our Women and Families of Colorado Relief Fund grants so far, 80% serve women of color or are led by women of color.

In the 2020 Colorado legislative session, The Women's Foundation of Colorado proudly supported legislation aimed at improving accountability and integrity in law enforcement agencies. In addition to grants to women-of-color-led organizing efforts, what we learn through the Women & Girls of Color Fund will continue to enhance our public policy work. We will continue to promote and amplify the messages of women and girls of color in our work for systemic change.

 Meet the Framework Committee

Amber Coté headshot

  Amber Coté, Colorado Nonprofit Association

Amber's diverse experience in the field of nonprofit administration, education and judicial advocacy and business informs her approach to civic engagement, collaboration-building and organizational leadership. She particularly enjoys developing alliances that leverage shared values to achieve a common vision. Amber is a life-long activist and strong proponent of consensus-building through creative partnerships. She was recently a member of Chinook's Giving Project.

Carly Hare headshot

  Carly Hare, CHANGE Philanthropy

Carly (Pawnee/Yankton) strives to live a commitment to advancing equity and community engagement through her professional and personal life. Carly was executive director of Native Americans in Philanthropy from 2010-2015 and she served as Director of Programs for The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County for five years. Carly has served on planning committees and presented at over 30 conferences at the intersection of equity and philanthropy. She is a proud daughter, sister, auntie, ally, friend and equity advocate. Carly’s Pawnee name is <i kita u hoo <i ]a hiks which translates into kind leader of men.

Nneka McPhee headshot

  Nneka McPhee, American Associates - Ben-Gurion University, SPIN (Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs)

Nneka McPhee is an executive-level professional with over fifteen years of experience in resource development and non-profit management. Prior roles have included Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for JEWISH Colorado. Nneka is a co-founder and active member of the Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN) giving circle and she is passionate about giving back to her community.

Angell Perez headshot

  Angell Pérez, M.A., Colorado Circles for Change, Angell Pérez Consulting

Angell has over 20 years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector and working in partnership with low income, communities of color. This has included championing racial equity in the sector and providing transformative youth programing with a specialization in gender specific programing for girls. She has lead programming for various organizations including Girls Inc., Mi Casa Resource Center, Servicios De La Raza, and many others. She is a 2019 Bonfils Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellow and professor of gender, women, sexualities studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Angell feels strongly that her personal lived experience is what informs her work and is only complemented by her formal education and training. Angell’s passion is rooted in opening space for youth to find their voice, build power and become self-determined.

Cori Wong headshot

  Cori Wong, PhD, Colorado State University - Women & Gender Collaborative, Positive Philosophy Consulting

Cori is a speaker, writer, educator, and consultant with over 10 years of training and leadership experience related to intersectional feminism, anti-racism, social justice, and inclusive culture change. Cori leads diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Colorado State University. Her dissertation entitled, Positive Philosophy: A Feminist Practice of Affective Therapy and Political Resistance, explored the liberatory potential of thinking critically about oppression in ways that excite, energize, inspire, connect, motivate, and heal. Cori is a member of The Women's Foundation's direct service grantmaking committee.

The Women's Foundation is deeply grateful to our framework committee and the community for sharing your precious time and invaluable expertise as we develop this fund.

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