OVERVIEW: The Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund funds women’s rights and empowerment organizations in least-developed countries around the world.
IP TAKE: This funder tends to limit grants to one year; however, it offers a limited number of grants for multi-year projects. VGIF makes multi-year grants by invitation only.
PROFILE: In 1969, a small group of International Federation of University Women members founded the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF). Initially, the VGIF helped female college graduates in developing countries. The fund has since expanded its work to “provide grants globally to fund locally generated projects that advance the rights of women and girls.” VGIF does not fund projects taking place in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe.
VGIF supports organizations that “improve the lives of women and girls by advancing women’s rights and social justice.” It currently supports grassroots organizations in South and East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The fund prioritizes grassroots empowerment organizations because it “believes that women know best what will help improve and enrich life in their own communities, and they are the only ones equipped to empower themselves.” Indeed, VGIF awards women’s rights and empowerment grants through six main grant programs, which include economic development and empowerment; education; environment, food and water security; health, wellness, and bodily integrity; human rights and legal status; and leadership and movement building.
The fund does not limit its support to the above-listed areas of interest and supports other projects that empower women. For example, VGIF has made grants to several programs for women in post-conflict countries in Africa and Europe.
VGIF limits its grant awards to $7,500. Past grantees include Digital Development for its sewing workshop for internally displaced women and the Hope Foundation for Women and Children in Bangladesh for its village nurse project. To get a broader sense of the types of organizations VGIF supports, explore its projects database. The foundation also has four separate funds to provide support for specific types of projects: Erna Hamburger Fund, Asian Regional Endowment, Central/South America/Caribbean Regional Endowment Fund, and the Leaders program.
VGIF accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry at varying times throughout the year. Click here for current submission deadlines.
- Emily Forhman, Executive Director
- Jenna Wallace, Director of Programs
- Evaline Franks, Program Associate