This Women’s Foundation Focuses on Direct Services and Advocacy in Chicago

Photo: tommaso79/shutterstock

Photo: tommaso79/shutterstock

The Chicago Foundation for Women is a local funder with a comprehensive approach to gender equity. With a combination of grassroots organizing, advocacy, direct services, research and education, CFW has been giving out around $1 million per grant cycle recently, thanks in part to some help from its affiliated giving circles and councils.

Most recently, CFW awarded 75 new grants totaling $914,500 to support its mission to help women and girls in the Chicago area access healthcare, find freedom from violence, and achieve economic security.

In this round of giving, the big focuses were direct services and advocacy, with grants going to the Midwest Access Project, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Build, Inc., and others. These grants backed things like youth development programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods, ending pretrial punishments for people charged with crimes, and training health providers on sexual and reproductive health issues.

“At a time of escalating threats to the safety of survivors of domestic violence and women’s access to health care, CFW remains committed to investing in safe, healthy and thriving communities for women and girls,” said CFW President and CEO K. Sujata.

CFW’s latest round of giving demonstrates its commitment to the Englewood area of Chicago. For the second year in a row, CFW kicked in funds for its Englewood Women’s Initiative, which involves a partnership of eight agencies dedicated to equipping women in this area with the support they need to find jobs that pay at least $40,000 per year and establish long-term financial stability. The funder’s second round of investments for this initiative yielded $168,000 in new grants. Meanwhile, Southside giving remains a top priority, and CFW has been making strides in connecting philanthropists with opportunities to invest in the successes of black women and girls here.

But as we’ve noted about CFW in the past, part of this foundation’s giving power comes from giving councils and giving circles with which it is affiliated. Local organizations, including the Alive Center, the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois, and the Harbour received new CFW grants thanks to these giving councils and circles.

Compared to previous CFW giving cycles, this funder has been giving more but smaller grants, lately. This shift indicates a greater openness to support new groups and test experimental projects in a bigger way than in the past. Overall, annual grantmaking totals have been about the same, but more local nonprofits are getting involved with CFW, thereby testing a broader range of approaches and ideas around the city.

Grantseekers interested in getting to know this funder should review the full list of Spring 2018 grantees, which includes a detailed description of each project funded. Recent grant amounts range from $10,000 to $25,000. Although the fall 2018 letter of inquiry due date has passed, CFW is still providing small grant funding on an ongoing basis.