OVERVIEW: The Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund prioritizes women’s rights and empowerment efforts in developing countries around the world.
IP TAKE: This fund is dedicated to women’s grassroots empowerment organizations that are also woman-led. VGIF is a great funder for small and new groups.
PROFILE: Established in 1969, the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF) was created by a small group of members from the International Federation of University Women. Since then, it has expanded its grantmaking interests to include reproductive rights, skills training, human rights, and violence against women, among other concerns. VGIF ultimately seeks "[l]ocally generated projects that advance the rights of women and girls."
VGIF, though founded on women's empowerment in least developed countries, also supports programs related to women's rights and empowerment in economic development; education; environment, food, and security; health and wellness; human rights and legal status; and leadership and movement-building. VGIF currently funds grassroots projects in South and East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
While the fund has named specific interests, it is open to funding other projects that empower women in post-conflict countries in Africa and Europe. The fund has also supported HIV/AIDS prevention education in South America and West Africa.
VGIF solely supports grassroots empowerment organizations because it “[b]elieves 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.” Grants through VGIF are limited to a maximum of $7,500.
The foundation also has four separate funds created to provide support for specific types of projects including the Erna Hamburger Fund, which is dedicated to supporting math, science, and engineering projects geared toward girls in developing countries; Asian Regional Endowment, which backs empowerment projects across Asia; Central/South America/Caribbean Regional Endowment Fund, which is dedicated to projects in those regions; and the Leaders Fund, which awards grants for “[i]nnovative and entrepreneurial projects" in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
VGIF accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry from June 1 to July 31 each year. Grants are typically limited to one year. However, the fund does make a limited number of grants available for multi-year projects. Multi-year grants are made by invitation only.
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