Less than 8¢ out of every philanthropic $1 spent in the U.S. today goes to help women and girls.
Help us change that.
We’re a community foundation that invests in just one thing: basic rights and equal opportunities for women and girls throughout the Chicago region.
Give justice, safety, health, and economic security to all women and girls.
What matters most for women and girls? Weigh in.
In 2014, working with more than 2,000 donors and local partners on the front lines, we funded 150 projects in 4 counties serving 53,000 women and girls.
ITVS Public Media’s Independent Voice Community Cinema has been partnering with Chicago Foundation for Women since the Women’s Empowerment Film Series we did together back in 2010. CFW has been an amazing ally with ITVS’ Women and Girls Lead initiative, introducing us to their stellar list of organizations and leaders that are making a difference in the lives of women and girls in Chicago. ITVS supplied the documentaries and CFW brought the change-agents. Together we have organized thoughtful discussions on challenging topics, ranging from health and education, jobs and opportunities, media literacy, gender-based violence and much more. We are so grateful to the Chicago Foundation for Women for this partnership, and for helping Chicago Community Cinema highlight the great work going on in our own backyard.
The refugee girls we work with embody the American dream. They come here with nothing, and all they want is to have a good life and to help their families. I want that to still be possible, and I think it really is, as long as we’re willing to make sure that they can be the members of our country that they want to be.
Doors close to you for things that you don’t control: because you’re a woman, because you’re brown, because you’re short, whatever. That’s no reason not to have an opportunity.
Having been fortunate myself, having had the chance to go to great schools, to join a Wall Street firm, to develop my business, why wouldn’t I support an organization that works to level the playing field for other women? It’s so important that we give back this way. And Chicago Foundation for Women is a great way to give and know that the funds are going to the most promising, women-led solutions.
I started volunteering at ICAH—it’s a grassroots organization that’s funded through CFW’s Catalyst Fund. I worked on the blog “SexEd Loop,” which provides reliable sex education for teens. Through ICAH, I have become a feminist and an advocate for reproductive justice.
ICAH taught me how to use my voice. It has prepared me for meetings with legislators and has trained me to explain the importance of teens having comprehensive information on their sexual health.
The Polk Bros. Foundation is proud to partner with the Chicago Foundation for Women, providing more than $1 million in grants over the past twenty years. Recent grants support the Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, which offers cumulative learning opportunities in a given issue area or organizational strategy, the time and resources to implement changes or new ideas, and the ability to hear from their peers’ experiences. We offer capacity-building grants and scholarships to give participants the flexibility to engage outside experts or enroll staff in professional development programs. The Polk Bros. Fund for Emerging Organizations at CFW offers grants to organizations that don’t meet our Foundation’s eligibility requirements, but are providing promising solutions to address the unmet needs of women and girls. It is a privilege to partner with CFW to accomplish our mutual goal of ensuring that each woman and girl in Chicago has the opportunity to reach her full potential.
I came to America with a dream of living a happy and purposeful life. CFW’s Advocacy Academy has given me the confidence I need to live out that dream and help other women live it, too.
Crossroads Fund partnership with Chicago Foundation for Women has enabled us to do what we challenge our grantees to do – form partnerships that allow us to maximize our resources while supporting grantee organizations sustainability. Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership project provides a space dedicated to women of color organizers to share their stories, strategies, challenges and triumphs as they continue to build on their leadership skills. As foundations we are committed in ensuring women of color voices are heard, their unique organizing and advocacy strategies are celebrated and the multiple identities that women of color have are lifted up.
I’ve always seen myself as kind of an activist, you know, somebody who was always in the rally. CFW has shown me that my activism can extend to the boardroom. I’ve been able to use my voice in a number of ways, and I think that adding the voices of women, of color, of youth can only make philanthropy stronger.
There are not many organizations in the country that are doing philanthropy that serves women and girls, and there’s even fewer that serve women of color and LGBTQ-identified women. I’m really proud to be a part of that.
I made this gift hoping it might inspire other women. Women need to be bold in their philanthropy. You might not think you can do this, but you can.
I wanted a hands-on experience where I could be a part of a community and see where my time and money were going. Most importantly, I wanted to focus on Chicago, my home, where the need touches us all.
Really, anyone can be a philanthropist. And CFW prepares you by making the process easier to navigate and understand.
Women of color are disproportionately impacted by racism, sexism, and income inequality. Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership is one of the few spaces in greater Chicago that intentionally nurtures and develops women of color leaders who are fighting to change these conditions for themselves and their communities at the systemic level. Sharing their knowledge of the strategies of community organizing and public policy advocacy and coming from work on a variety of issues areas such as affordable housing, LGBTQ rights, public education reform, reproductive rights, criminal justice, and immigrant rights –Cultivate participants have the opportunity to strengthen themselves, their organizations and the larger social economic and racial justice fields.
I’d like to believe that the law protects us, and I think to some extent it does. We have equal rights laws, we have gender violence laws, we have reproductive rights laws, but they’re tenuous. As women, we need to elect officials who will enforce those rights and protect them for us. True justice means equal opportunities for everyone, and the choice to decide what you want to do with your own life, whether it’s in terms of a career or family planning.
We’re so pleased to partner with the Eleanor Network at Chicago Foundation for Women to build our capacity to empower women and girls to be successful in the workplace.
As a young Arab Muslim woman, post 9/11 especially, it was pretty difficult—struggling with different forms of racism, stereotypes as a woman who had decided to wear hijab. We didn’t have places where we could go and talk about these issues. We didn’t really have any opportunities that were specific for Arabs and Muslims, or specific for girls, for that matter. It was really important to help to provide that opportunity. It’s challenging the norms without being inappropriate and without being outright rebellious.
This is my way up. I can pay my bills. I can help my mom. I have a reliable car. I don’t have to worry about food. I can breathe.
The best pay is when my foreman calls me back to say thanks for being a good worker and that he wants me back for another job.
That women and girls would be leading exceptional lives at every level of the socio-economic scale shouldn’t be a “vision” but a reality that we create, together, today.
There are girls and women out there with hope, passion, and the ability to fulfill their dreams. It is up to us to pay attention when one comes along, create opportunities for her and remove barriers, and become a trusted and knowledgeable resource. In other words, be a leader.
The idea is to build a collective movement of women giving back on behalf of women and girls in whichever way they choose to do that, whether it be time, talent, or treasure. Studies have shown that women have a hard time finding mentorship. We’re building a community of women who are learning and growing with each other. We’re like this force field: it’s a group of women to lean on, but also a place where we can bounce back even more energized.
I looked into the privilege that I have of being straight and use that to be an ally for people who are discrimiated against and oppressed and ostracized in their communities.
Our collaboration with the Chicago Foundation for Women allows the Alphawood Foundation to extend its reach and capability in addressing the needs of domestic violence survivors and their children. Combining our knowledge and experience in this field is a true example of leveraging resources to create greater benefit for our community.
I had never really thought about abortion…but in 1968, I was talking to a neighbor who said she’d just got out of the hospital after having an abortion. She and I, because we were women of means could get a medically safe abortion, but poor or poorer women had to go to back alley abortionists. Having been brought up to fight inequities, I got to work! And have worked to make and keep abortion safe and legal and available (although I’ve not done a very good job on “available”) ever since then!
My family doesn’t own anything outside of homes, and I want to change that. I want to leave a legacy.
To me, entrepreneurship is a good foundation for community development. I know that the Women’s Business Development Center will help me get this off the ground. I’m going to be on someone’s best new restaurant list very soon!
When a grantee succeeds, we’re one step closer to our vision of a world and a community where every woman and girl has the opportunity to live a safe, just, and healthy life. We can’t leave 51 percent of the world behind.
If I can get up and move, then I can make a difference. I can advocate on behalf of my community and other seniors like me. There’s a lot of legislation that blocks progress. I want to interact with legislators, work with the people writing laws and be the voice of seniors.
The Trust has been proud to be a supporter of Chicago Foundation for Women since its founding. Recently, it has played a highly valued convening role helping identify the need for evidence of the strength of services provided by domestic violence providers. This leadership resulted in a path-breaking evaluation project likely to indicate the value of these services as well as identify possible program areas for further development. Currently, the Trust is partnering with the Foundation on its signature policy effort around key women’s issues. We are confident that the Foundation will be able to leverage its position of civic leadership to ignite interest in progressive policies essential to women in fields such as health, work, education and safety.
This training has been very empowering. I appreciate the time and dedication of the instructors. They really care if we make it out there. I would like to continue my education and become a nurse. This is a good starting place.
If I wasn’t in GirlForward, I would be at home, sitting and reading books. I wouldn’t have any friends and couldn’t talk to other people and learn more English.
Every day, I meet women and girls who are struggling to access the most basic healthcare needed to keep themselves and their families healthy.
I often asked myself how I, a 27-year-old with an ocean full of passion and an eyedropper full of money, could change the tide. CFW has taught me that anyone can have an impact. This is what gives CFW its power. It is the power of the collective. We have the power to stand together so that the women and girls of Chicago can stand on their own.
When I first started coming to the meeting, I was a young woman now I have matured into a woman from being in Empowered Fe Fes and also becoming a mother to a beautiful daughter. My favorite part about being a mom is the joy of having her, it just makes me complete. She smiles a lot, she keeps me happy, and she keeps me motivated. I need to advocate not only for me but for my daughter’s future!
I’m a domestic violence survivor. Nineteen years ago, I was ready to end my life. But then a door opened, and I walked through it. That door was COFI.
Until I met COFI’s POWER-PAC moms, I didn’t know you could channel anger into passion, and passion could become action. And that action? Well, it becomes change. Today, I’ve testified before the Chicago Board of Education and the U.S. Senate.
CFW gave COFI the resources to confront injustice, and to empower people like me to do the same.
Illinois Women for Compassionate Immigration Reform (IWCIR) brings an important voice to the immigration reform movement by highlighting the contributions of women and the unique situations they face. As a founding member of IWCIR, CFW has brought attention to immigrant women in Illinois, be they survivors of violence, entrepreneurs, or mothers. A majority of immigrants coming to the United States are women and children. Although we do not know what the next months will bring in terms of immigration reform, IWCIR will continue to advocate through events, lectures, and actions that bring attention to the experience of immigrant women.
My mentor helps me out with my college applications, essays, even personal life, ANYTHING!
As a law student, I worked for a nonprofit in rural Mississippi. I met women working in catfish and chicken processing plants for poverty-level wages with no benefits. Here in Chicago, I have met women working hard at low-wage jobs in health care, retail, and hospitality, struggling to make ends meet, traveling long distances to get to work, and spending half of their income on housing to live in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods with the lowest-quality schools.
These women have inspired me to get involved. If women are suffering, societies suffer.
When you invest in women and girls, you invest in stronger, more stable families and communities. You develop capable workers, people who produce more, save more, and spend more, right now and 30 years from now. You raise a generation of healthier kids with brighter futures, and you lower the cost of everything from public safety to social services to healthcare.
Invest in women and girls, and you invest a society that works—for everyone.
We focus on the top three issues that affect women’s lives today.
A woman supporting a family in the Chicago area is 20 times more likely than a man to be earning the minimum wage-or less.
One in seven women has been physically threatened. One in three of those women has been battered.
Breast cancer is not linked to race or income, but breast cancer survival is.
Our approach is simple and effective
The bets we place are bold and informed, like the investors who make them possible.
We speak up for women and girls. And we back up our words with evidence.
Big goals demand big picture thinking, coordinated effort, and leadership. We've been doing all three for 30 years.
Foundation announces fall 2014 grants to nonprofit programs that work to improve women and girls’ economic security and reproductive justice CHICAGO, IL (January 5, 2015) […]
Fall 2015 launch will raise awareness, enhance opportunities, elevate women and girls CHICAGO, IL (JANUARY 13, 2015) Chicago Foundation for Women is leading a city-wide effort […]
CHICAGO FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN APPOINTS AGNES MENESES TO SENIOR POSITION Support from Alphawood brings experienced leader to oversee initiatives to combat domestic violence CHICAGO, IL, […]
Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) is celebrating its 30th birthday by leading a city-wide effort to identify the most pressing issues facing women and girls […]
Chicago Foundation for Women is a leading convener of women in Chicago. Check out our upcoming events below.
All of our events, including those hosted by our Giving Councils, are open to the public unless otherwise specified.
To read about meetings and events we've held, visit our entire Events Schedule. Questions? Email email@example.com.