Eric Dobkin met his wife, Barbara, while they were both attending Marietta College in Ohio. Dobkin went on to become a finance star, making partner at Goldman Sachs in the early 1980s. Barbara, meanwhile, armed with a social work degree and drawing upon social engagement, she began as a youth in her native Baltimore. She has since been prominent in progressive Jewish and women's philanthropy circles.
Barbara Dobkin co-founded Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project, which "provides feminist, social justice, and leadership training to teen girls and teaches vital skills to parents and educators," and has served as the chair of The Jewish Women’s Archive, which chronicles and transmits the achievements of Jewish women. Dobkin has also been at the helm of the Hadassah Foundation, an outfit which works to empower girls and women in both the United States and Israel.
Born into a Jewish family, it makes sense that Barbara would engage with women's issues from this vantage. As she once put it: "I use my voice, my influence and my money to benefit Jewish women and girls. To me this is a sacred mission." Her work at Ma'yan has even included hosting feminist seders.
But this isn't the full scope of this wealthy couple's work in this area, and the Dobkin Family Foundation's grantmaking has involved a wide variety of outfits that work for equity for half of the world's population. In a recent fiscal year, the Dobkin's foundation gave away around $8.6 million and held around $45 million in assets.
The couple through their foundation have recently funded outfits such as New York Women's Foundation, a "cross-cultural alliance of women catalyzing partnerships and leveraging human and financial capital to achieve sustained economic security and justice for women and girls," MS Foundation for Women, Advancing Women Professionals, Re:Gender, and Hollaback!, an initiative to end harassment in public spaces worldwide. Hollaback! was in the news for a powerful viral video of a young woman walking through New York City's streets for 10 hours and enduring catcalling. Which there were some who noted that the video painted a demographically limited picture of street harassment, the video's some 42 million views speak to how well the overall message resonated.
Speaking of video, the Dobkins also tackle gender equity through film and media. The couple has supported Chicken & Egg Pictures, which is "dedicated to supporting women nonfiction filmmakers whose diverse voices and dynamic storytelling have the power to catalyze change, at home and around the globe," and Shine Global, a nonprofit "production company dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of children through films and media," among others. They've also funded Lilth Magazine, which describes itself as "Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist since 1976."
The Dobkins have also supported schools like Girls Athletic Leadership Schools in Denver and Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women in Barbara's hometown. Another important grantee here is American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an outfit the couple has supported for years. The couple, through their foundation, gave a $1 million grant to AJWS in a recent fiscal year. AJWS is a "nonprofit organization dedicated to providing nonsectarian humanitarian assistance and emergency relief to disadvantaged people worldwide." Some of AJWS' work involves NGOs led by women in Africa.
Apart from the couple's work in this area, they've also considered quite a few social justice and policy outfits, health, as well as LGBT issues. This is clearly a progressive funder. Unfortunately for grantseekers though, there are no clear avenues for getting in touch for a grant. For a fuller picture of this couple's work read our profile of Eric Dobkin below.
Related: Eric S. Dobkin