The Boston Women’s Fund believes that activism at the grassroots level strengthens the foundation and leadership for community building. We generate resources for women-led community-based efforts to create a society built upon racial, economic and social justice. We further that aim by putting resources in the hands of the community, for distribution according to community priorities. In that way, BWF gives people the power and opportunity to improve their lives, when government and other institutions are unresponsive. Our complete program roster includes:
BWF’s primary Mission is to provide seed money, program support, and ongoing funding for women and girls-led, community-based organizations in the Greater Boston area. Through grantmaking, BWF provides opportunities for women and girls to develop skills and gain confidence in their leadership abilities, while organizing their peers and making their voices heard in public policy debates and educating their communities about root causes and just solutions, which will affect their lives. BWF’s multi-cultural, community-based, grantmaking process is informed by our diverse, volunteer-based Allocations Committee. This is a key component of our social change grantmaking model, which ensures that those most affected by injustice take the lead and work together to create solutions. Because of BWF’s unique grantmaking, emerging social change groups are able to expand, and effective organizations which are neglected by mainstream funding sources continue to contribute to the integral base for social justice.
The Organizing Institute
BWF’s Organizing Institute is the technical assistance arm of BWF, focusing on training and personnel development of grantees, promoting a series of community events for networking, sharing best practices and developing strategies, that target community building as key in assuring a more vibrant racial, economic and social justice movement. The technical assistance provided to grassroots social change organizations through free or low-cost workshops and conferences, include topics on our evaluation tool, Making the Case, strengthening fundraising skills, developing nonprofit boards, collaborating and partnering with similar organizations, gaining tax-exempt, nonprofit status, managing finances and other related capacity building issues identified by our grantees.
Girls Programming and Leadership Development
Young Sisters for Justice in Philanthropy (YSJP) is a two-year youth-led, leadership internship program for young women and girls ages 16 to 20. YSJP involves a diverse group of young women and girls in building awareness of social change work and philanthropy among young people, cultivating new and younger donors, and creating a youth-led organizing effort. Young Sisters at BWF are full-fledged members of the foundation’s allocations committee, make site visits to potential grantees, make a one-year volunteer commitment to one of the Fund’s grantee organizations and work within the Fund on a broad range of organizational activities. Through these action-based strategies, young sisters become community activists, develop advocacy and leadership skills as well as participate in social change philanthropy. YSJP is currently undergoing an in-depth assessment and enhancement.
Our Public Spirit
Our Public Spirit was a collaboration with the Haymarket People’s Fund and the Women’s Theological Center to document, recognize, celebrate, and increase philanthropic giving by people of color. In 2006, BWF received a major multi-year grant from the Kellogg Foundation to support the project.
Our first steps were to convene a series of focus groups with African Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders to explore the meaning and practice of charitable giving in these communities. From these conversations, we published “Expanding the Circle,” a synopsis of focus group findings and an exploration of giving among African American women and Asian Pacific Islander women. As part of Our Public Spirit, BWF convened donor conferences, organized giving circles, continued documentation, and prepared materials to support and celebrate philanthropy from multi-cultural perspectives. While the grant-supported component of Our Public Spirit is complete, BWF’s commitment to celebrating and promoting philanthropy among women and communities of color continues with our support of the Jasmine Giving Circle and the Circle of Blessing African American Giving Circle. BWF works to continue diversifying the base of donors who fund racial, economic and social justice.