To Prevent Domestic Abuse, Foundations Invest in Women's Financial Literacy

Only several years old, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation has established itself as one of the top grantmakers in the country. Recently, the SVCF awarded $20,000 to Able Works, a Northern California non-profit that will use the grant money to support financial education programming for young, single mothers in East Palo Alto, with the goal of helping participants achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency.

The SVCF doesn't explicitly prioritize women's empowerment in its mission statement, but the foundation is big on financial literacy, giving out grants for anti-payday-loan advocacy and financial education more generally. 

There appears to be strong interest in the giving community right now about developing financial awareness specifically in women. In its domestic violence prevention funding areas, the Allstate Foundation states that its giving priority is financial education, based on the understanding that financial factors are the strongest predictor of a domestic violence survivor's decision to stay, leave, or return to a relationship. The Dallas Women's Foundation devoted $300,000 last year to financial education, coaching, and counseling resources for low-income women in the region. And the New York Women's Foundation regularly gives out moderately sized grants$50,000 or soto financial clinics and non-profit groups empowering women to take control of their personal finances.

Philanthropic support for women's financial literacy is a welcome development, given the gender disparities in economic savvy the national media have highlighted repeatedly in the last year. And investing in financial education for women in vulnerable situations is a particularly effective form of philanthropy, according to findings from a report released last year by the Rutgers School of Social Work.

Using data compiled over 14 months from domestic violence survivors participating in financial literacy education programming (whose curriculum the Allstate Foundation had a hand in developing, incidentally), researchers found that victims armed with improved financial planning abilities tended to recover from and even prevent abusive situations.