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Ms. Foundation for Women: Girls of Color Initiative

Supporting advocacy & movement building work of adolescent girls of color in US & its territories

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Supported by Gucci's CHIME FOR CHANGE, the Ms. Foundation for Women envisions a world where the power and possibilities of girls of color are not limited by race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disabilities or other axes of identity. We believe that girls of color are the experts of their own experiences, and with the right opportunities, they have the ability, ideas, and passion to write their own stories, create their own futures, and drive change in their own communities and in the world.

We know that cisgender, transgender and queer girls of color live at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression including white supremacy, patriarchy, colonization and unchecked capitalism, while facing tremendous social and structural barriers including disturbing patterns of policing, interpersonal violence, and institutional violence in their schools and communities. Girls of color also face significant barriers to educational achievement, economic and political equality, and they are the recipients of deeply embedded racial and gender biases in the media, public policy, philanthropy, and research.

The Girls of Color Initiative launched in an unprecedented moment in the fight for racial justice, gender justice and equity for all people. While social and political movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo have ignited a new national public discourse about racism, sexism, patriarchy and gendered violence in this country, moving from conversations to solutions that impact lasting and sustainable change, especially for the most vulnerable, will require bold leadership and innovative solutions. We are convinced that the ideas and solutions of girls of color are essential to carry that vision forward. Girls of color don’t just want to see change in their communities around these issues, they want to create it. The Girls of Color Initiative hopes to shift power back to girls of color to do just that, by highlighting, advancing and investing in their organizing and leadership.

The Girls of Color Initiative encompasses seven broad social justice concepts:

· Rooted in Racial Equity and Justice: We recognize that our vision of a world where GOC are safe, healthy and where their power and possibilities are not limited by race, or identities will require imagining new systems and cannot be achieved without dramatically growing the power of communities of color.

· Commitment to Building Power: Lasting and sustainable change for GOC will require urgent fundamental changes that reposition them in relation to power and resources. Therefore, we will prioritize strategies and activities that help build power for girl-led activism, organizing, leadership and political power.

· Intersectional Feminist Framework: We aim to understand issues and communities holistically by utilizing an intersectional analysis that recognizes the interconnectedness of communities, issues and policies.

· Inclusive across Identities: The change we’d like to affect in the world will require inclusivity across a broad range of identities including the categories of race, class, gender, ability, age, region, and others. We also know that many youth we hope to support don’t identify with the term “girl.” Therefore, our definition of girl is inclusive of youth of gender- nonconforming, gender fluid, and transgender experiences.

· Collaborative Approach: With the recognition that communities most directly impacted by social problems are also the best positioned to develop solutions, we plan to incorporate a participatory approach as we design and implement the initiative.

· Focus on Healing Justice and Resilience: Healing Justice is the idea that we all deserve to heal on our terms and confront oppressive systems that get in our way. A Healing Justice framework calls on us to expand our concept of action to support the self-determination, interdependence, resilience & resistance of those most impacted by oppression.

· Celebrates Joyful Resistance: We recognize that for GOC who live in a world that is often hostile to their very existence, joy is not only a goal but a survival strategy and a powerful act of resistance. Thus, we will prioritize strategies that boldly and unapologetically name joy as a central element.

Since its launch in August 2020, the Girls of Color Initiative has completed two of three start-up phases, during which two major objectives were achieved:

· Completed research on the national ecosystem of programs and resources for GOC in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Research included a national landscape study, focus group conversations, and one-on-one interviews with girls.

· Completed first round of grantmaking with $615,000 awarded to 44 organizations led by or serving GOC. Grants represent investment in leadership development and infrastructure of organizations serving GOC in the U.S. and its territories.

In Phase 3 (July 2021-June 2022), the Girls of Color Initiative will undertake three major activities, all of which will magnify the importance of equitable funding for Girls of color:

· Publish and disseminate the national research report.

· Focus on philanthropic advocacy to ensure that the funding needs of GOC are understood and met.

· Complete the second round of funding to organizations led by or centering GOC.

Information: Stephanie K. Blackwood, Senior Director, Engagement and Major Gifts

sblackwood@ms.foundation.org | 917.532.2487 m

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MS FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN INC

Brooklyn, New York, 11201-0000, United States


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