Why is this Women's Foundation and YWCA Putting Girls in Charge of Grantmaking?

When you have money to give away, suddenly money has a whole new meaning. Money now becomes a powerful tool in your artillery for solving a problem, and your own role in being part of that solution takes on a different significance.

It’s this shift in meaning and understanding of charitable giving that a new grantmaking partnership between The New York Women’s Foundation and the YWCA of the City of New York is seeking to develop for young women. Beginning this fall, these partners launched a new fellowship program for 15 diverse teenage girls and gender-fluid youth to practice the art and science of grantmaking.

The fellows for Girls IGNITE Grantmaking Fellows were chosen from a diverse array of settings including public and private high schools, foster care agencies, LGBTQAI youth organizations, religious institutions, and public housing resident groups.  

“We believe that philanthropy is more than an act of giving, it is a highly participatory and broadly influential engine for social change that helps shape the world,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation.

Dr. Danielle Moss Lee, President of the YWCA of the City of New York, also spoke of the breakthrough in strategy that this grant represents. “This initiative signals an important milestone in The New York Women’s Foundation’s legacy of participatory philanthropy which firmly plants those whose lives are affected by good works at the center of problem-solving and solution creation.”

The nine-month fellowship allows participants to explore social justice issues, practice leadership and consensus-building, develop community engagement, and make important financial decisions that affect the community and the lives of others.  

Related: Inside the Growing Funder Push to Accelerate Social Change for Young Women of Color  

Prior to starting their grantmaking, fellows will participate in 11 educational sessions to learn about how nonprofits work and the process of grantmaking, developing an understanding of how to design a request for proposal and how to evaluate grant applications, including conducting site visits with potential grantees. Each fellow will also be encouraged to donate 10 percent of her stipend, in addition to the $30,000 in grantmaking decided upon as a group, so they can learn about charitable giving as a personal practice, and to instill the message that meaningful giving can happen at all levels and in both small and large denominations.

The New York Women’s Foundation has a long history of supporting equality for women and girls in significant new ways. The foundation is a lead founder of Prosperity Together, which joined 27 women’s foundations and funds across the country in a new five-year effort to positively impact the lives of low-income women and women and girls of color. It has also supported one of the most broad-based mandates for change in New York City for young women, The Young Women’s Initiative Report.

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