Dallas Women’s Foundation: Texas Grants

OVERVIEW: The Dallas Women’s Foundation is committed to philanthropy for women and girls, especially those living at risk and in poverty Dallas, Collin, and Denton counties. DWF operates much like a community foundation. Economic security, women-led households, and education and medical care for women and girls at risk are at the heart of DWF grantmaking.

FUNDING AREAS: Women and girls, economic security, education, medical care, women-led households

IP TAKE: DWF operates on spring and fall grant cycles and is welcoming to new grantees. Although the Economic Security Initiative is open to applications by invitation only, interested nonprofits should look into the Mrs. Ruth Ray Hunt Memorial Fund and Community Grants including CREW Fund. 

PROFILE: The Dallas Women’s Foundation is all about empowering women’s philanthropy and helping women and girls be strong, independent, and self-sufficient members of the community. It’s also the largest regional women’s fund in the world. A group of 19 women established DWF in 1985. Since its inception, DWF has contributed more than $32 million to solve problems and create opportunities for females in North Texas. Grantmaking comes out to about $4.4 million per year. 

DWF operates much like a community foundation—raising funds from donors, making grants from those funds, and managing donor-advised funds. The foundation strongly believes in the “ripple effect,” a phenomenon where investing in women results in better lives for her family, community, and world.

Economic security is a significant program funding area at DWF. According to the foundation website, 52 percent of poor households in Dallas are headed by women and there are 161,000 female-headed households in poverty in North Texas. These grants are made by invitation only to candidates determined by DWF volunteers and staff.

Through DWF’s Leadership Initiative, it aims to increase the number of women in leadership positions through forums, publications, and research. DWF’s Advocacy Initiative has recently focused on human trafficking/domestic minor sex trafficking and small dollar, payday, and title loans. In recent years, the foundation has organized workshops about best practices and changing trends in philanthropy to teach potential donors how to identify giving priorities and give effectively.

According to Vice President of Grants and Research, Dena L. Jackson, Ph.D., “We want programs that address the unique issues of being female in this society and want to support organizations whose staff and leadership reflect that commitment.”

Some organizations that have gained DWF’s support in the past include SMART Girls in Collin County, Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic for prenatal care for uninsured women, and Rae’s Hope for girls in the West Dallas and Fair Park neighborhoods. In a recent year, the foundation reported over $36 million in total assets. This is an increase from previous years.

“Our grantees use evidence of programming that makes a difference in women’s lives to develop and improve their outreach,” Jackson explained. “This evidence may be from research published by Dallas Women’s Foundation or other entities, from piloting successful programs from other communities or from ongoing evaluation of their own work.”

Texas Women’s Foundation is the research and advocacy arm of DWF. As the name suggests, this entity has a broader geographic focus on women throughout the state of Texas. TWF produces research studies and reports, including the recent Economic Issues for Women in Texas report, which compared and contrasted nine Texas metropolitan areas.

The state of Texas has a long way to go to empower women in the way DWF envisions. In recent years, Texas has ranked 31st in women with at least a Bachelor’s Degree and number one for the rate of uninsured women.

Nonprofits can use DWF’s online application system to apply for a grant. For the spring funding cycle, the foundation accepts applications for the Mrs. H. L. (Ruth Ray) Hunt Memorial Fund. In addition to serving women and girls, eligible programs must also be faith-based or have a current or historical tie to a faith or religious entity. Dallas, Collin, and Denton counties are the geographical areas of emphasis. Grant requests are considered for programs that support education and medical care for girls and women at risk, as well as family units that are supported by women.

When asked about the theory of change behind DWF grantmaking, Jackson replied, “Dallas Women’s Foundation uses a social change model developed by Women’s Funding Network that supports the belief that social change is constant and occurs across all levels of society. That means we support direct service programs that seek to change behavior and knowledge while also supporting policy change, seeking to increase engagement from new constituents and make sure that gains of the past are not lost.”

The foundation is always open to new grantees and posts requests for proposals twice a year in November and June. General inquiries can be directed to the foundation staff at 214-965-9977 or emailed to the most relevant staff member. You can follow the Dallas Women’s Foundation on Facebook and Twitter for updates on current and upcoming grant cycles.


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