Small But Focused: A Look at the WestWind Foundation's Reproductive Funding

Compared to the larger reproductive health grantmakers out there, the WestWind Foundation is a mere minnow, with grantmaking of a few million dollars a year. But it's very focused: Over 40 percent of the foundation’s annual grantmaking goes toward sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) organizations, with the majority of that money going to programs working in developing countries.

Funders come at SRHR issues in different ways with different motives. Traditionally, many have focused on easing population pressures, but lately, the goal of empowering girls and women has been very salient. (Obviously, of course, these goals are closely entwined.)

WestWind brings a strong population lens to its funding. The foundation writes:

By 2050, it is estimated that the world’s population could increase by 41 percent to approximately 8.9 billion people. 99 percent of this increase will take place in developing countries. The decisions of the world’s young people, more than half of which are now either in or entering their reproductive years, will impact the quality of life on Earth for generations to come. 

This year, WestWind has awarded nearly $1.6 million in sexual health and reproductive grants ranging from around $10,000 up to $325,000. The largest grant of $325,000 was awarded to Marie Stopes International, a well-known reproductive health services organization working in dozens of countries worldwide.

WestWind's money flows to big organizations like Marie Stopes, but also smaller outfits. Notably, the foundation's reproductive health funding is quite consistent, with the same 20 to 25 organizations receiving annual grants during the last few years. 

Related: WestWind Foundation: Grants for Global Health

One organization that WestWind likes is Advocates of Youth, which has received a $100,000 grant in each of the past few years in support of the organization’s international advocacy programs.

Advocates for Youth is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that “views sexuality as normal and healthy and treats young people as a valuable resource,” and works in the U.S. as well as developing countries. Advocates’ sole focus is on the SRHR of young people. The WestWind Foundation’s latest grant will go toward the support of Advocates of Youth’s work in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Latin America and the Caribbean.

A relative newcomer to WestWind's SRHR portfolio is GOJOVEN, an international youth organization that develops and supports young leaders in wellness, education, sustainable development and civic participation. Bolstering the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people is one way that GOJOVEN advances its mission, working on these issues in Belize, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. WestWind has supported GOJOVEN over the past two years with annual grants of $25,000.

The WestWind Foundation’s Reproductive Health and Rights Program was created by its trustees in response to the surging population growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. At this time, the program is still under development, but it’s likely to maintain its interest in the sexual and reproductive rights of young people moving forward.