Reflecting on the First Women & Girls Grant Committee

The inaugural Women and Girls grant was an exciting new process for the Washington Women’s Foundation (WaWF). Although one of our cherished values is to elevate and amplify the power of all who identify as women, we have not historically made grants focusing on women and girls specifically.

Background

Supported by the WFA Fund for Women we offered three $15,000 Women & Girls Grants to organizations focused on women and girls, one in each of our 2022 grant chosen priorities.

In our efforts to simplify the WaWF application process for non-profits, organizations applying for the 2022 Collective Grant process had the option to opt-in to consideration for the Women & Girls Grant. This meant that we were working from the same pool of LOIs submitted in Fall 2021 for the 2022 Collective Grants cycle. We found many organizations doing great work with women and girls, but the LOIs did not necessarily provide any specific information about that work. To help future grant committees focus their work, for 2023 we have requested an additional statement describing any specific work or focus on women and girls as part of the Collective Grants LOI.

Our Process

How did the Women & Girls Grant Committee work?

As it was our first use of funding from the Women’s Funding Alliance, we invited former WFA donors to join us on the inaugural committee. In addition to WaWF members we invited several community members, who we offered an honorarium to acknowledge their investment of time and expertise in our grant process. 

Over the course of three meetings (and a few focus area small group meetings) the committee reviewed the submitted LOIs and did additional research on the organizations we were most inspired by.

Our grant criteria targeted funding organizations that:

  1. Bring an intersectional lens and work to foster more equitable opportunities for women and girls;
  2. Are focused on providing services to people affected by inequity due to race and/or gender identity;
  3. are accountable to the people being served; and
  4. Can demonstrate how they reduce disparities and/or achieve more equitable outcomes.

We considered both organizations that work exclusively with women and girls and organizations that serve a more general population but have programs devoted to women and girls. The Grant Committee was charged with selecting nine organizations, three in each 2022 funding priority area, to present at the PopUp.

The PopUP

The PopUP — a couple hour introduction to collective giving at WaWF — was the culmination of the work of the Women & Girls Grant Committee. All were invited for a fun and educational evening at the National Nordic Museum in Ballard in December.

Around 90 attendees mingled and snacked on heavy appetizers and festive drinks and then divided into groups at tables of eight where they were ably led through the review process by Aviva Stampfer, acting as our MC.  

The tables were each assigned one of our three 2022 priority areas.  In their small groups, the tables discussed WaWF grant criteria, and then the organizations presented by the Women & Girls Grant Committee. After discussion, a spokesperson for each table gave a 90 second pitch for their proposed Grantee. And then the room voted!

The three 2022 Women & Girls Grant recipients are: Families of Color Seattle Project Girl Mentoring Program, and Elizabeth Gregory Home Amazingly, representatives from each organization were in attendance at the PopUP, and also got to participate in the process (for a different issue area). It was wonderful to connect in person. To learn more about our new grantees and all the finalists, click here.

Learnings

Doing this process has expanded our understanding of what we might typically call women & girls issues. It’s clear that the work happening in these areas is interconnected, and that intersectionality brings strength. When we initially conceptualized these grants, we weren’t sure if there would always be organizations working with women & girls in each priority. What this first process taught us is that there are many different ways that nonprofits are working with women & girls in all our priorities. It’s an honor to support that creativity.

The PopUP was an engaging evening that allowed us to bring in many people who were new to the Foundation, living our commitment to “engage community voices in all aspects of programming and grantmaking.”  It was also a new way for WaWF members to experience our collective giving model. We’re looking forward to doing it again next year!

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