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January 2012 Edition

Board Boot Camp:  REBOOT

for current nonprofit board members to sharpen their skills

Last June we launched our successful Board Boot Camp program to train women interested in serving on nonprofit boards. Due to demand, we've created an intermediate boot camp for current board members who've served for less than five years and haven't yet been officers.

APPLY NOW for a 6-hour skill-building program over three evenings: March 22, 27 and 29. Cost: $75 Early Bird (apply by Feb. 10).

CFW's 2012 Resolution Rescue 
By K. Sujata, CFW's President/CEO

Happy New Year! That means it's time to consider your resolutions for 2012. In that tradition, I have suggestions to enhance common resolutions and make them more woman-positive.

1. Lose weight. Health and fitness top the list of common resolutions, but for women that's Woman's feet on a scaleoften combined with a weight loss goal. While more good foods and physical activity are a good idea, negative emotions about our own bodies are not. Set a mental goal to feel unashamed, confident and proud in the body you have with a daily meditation or affirmation. It may sound corny but it's effective: positive self-talk can have real emotional and physical payoffs (it's not just me, the Mayo Clinic says so), plus body-positivity counters the media and beauty industries' narrow definition of what's "good enough." The NOW Foundation's annual Love Your Body Day has great information and tips. Plus, join CFW's Leadership Councils and our co-sponsors on February 1 to watch and respond to Miss Representation, a new documentary about mass media's frequently twisted (or nonexistent) portrayal of women. And if you want to work out in a positive environment, come dance and shout with the Latina Leadership Council at Zumba Into the New Year on Saturday, January 28. 

2. Get a new job or a raise. This is a difficult resolution, especially for women, but not because we don't want to get ahead. Recent studies debunk the myth that women don't "ask" at the same rate men do--we do, but Ironworker Robyn Bush on a wind farmmen are more likely to be rewarded for potential success while women have to show a proven record. Once again, women have to work harder to achieve equality: When you want a promotion or pay raise, focus on networking with your colleagues and tracking your accomplishments so you can make the case for yourself. Take credit for your successes--or someone else will. While fighting for the recognition you deserve, think about how you can improve women's economic security on a broad scale (pun not intended). As of November the national unemployment rate had dropped to 8.6%, but among single mothers unemployment has continued to grow and is up to 12.4%. Oppose government cuts to services that support mothers' ability to keep jobs, such as early childhood education, public transportation and anti-violence programs--plus, since women are the majority of public sector workers, keeping budget cuts at bay retains their jobs, too.

3. Kick a bad habit. In addition to quitting smoking, cursing or chewing your fingernails, why not quit using words and phrases that belittle women? For example, how often do we use "whore" or "bitch" as negative verbs? We know there's nothing wrong with throwing or doing anything "like a girl," so try kicking the habit of gender essentialism in your everyday speech and actions, including holiday toys. Watch the viral video starring four-year-old Riley, whose toy-aisle rant about princesses and superheroes proves that kids are influenced by gender-specific marketing but can also be savvy to it, and then read a moving essay by a first-grade Milwaukee teacher who changed the way she taught and spoke when a gender-variant student joined her class.

4. Spend less money or get out of debt. This is one of my favorites: If you're vowing to brew your own coffee or pay off your credit card bills, add in one more component: save for retirement. Women earn lower wages, own fewer assets and take on more caregiving duties than men do, all of which lead to women having smaller retirement plans and lower Social Security benefits. Plus, the gender wage gap only widens as we age. Saving a little each paycheck can make a big difference come retirement, and the younger you start the better. A recent survey of women shows that although we are more involved than ever in managing personal and family finances, fewer than two in 10 women say they feel "very prepared" to make wise financial decisions (PDF). Do your research, make a budget and include retirement in your planning. I'll just nag you if you don't. 

5. Volunteer to help others. Giving back to your community is always a worthwhile pursuit, and I urge you to help out mason jar overflowing with coins and dollar billsprograms that focus on women and girls. As I wrote last month, a very small proportion (about 7.5%) of charitable giving goes to work that's intentionally designed to benefit women (PDF), even though we're more than half the population. Volunteer time is welcome, but as any women's nonprofit will tell you, donations are always needed. Change that trend: save change! Fill up a jar and donate it to a woman-focused nonprofit . You can also augment your change by chipping in more when you feel moved. Throw in a few extra quarters or dollars every time you read a news story about girls and women that either inspires you or makes you angry (try cable news for help there). Put the jar on your desk or in your work breakroom and ask your coworkers to help. You'll have a sizable donation in no long as you don't filch quarters for laundry or vending machines.

I hope these resolutions inspire you to have a wonderful 2012--for yourself and all the women and girls in your family, community and world. Give yourself a high five and then get to work!

CFW in the community
Scales of justiceEXTENDED DEADLINE! 2012 Impact Awards nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m. this Thursday, January 5. Please help us recognize 10 Chicago-area women and men who defend women's rights in the courtroom, the capitol and beyond. Fill out a nomination form today! Also, save the date of March 15 for the awards ceremony--event sponsorships are available now and more information is coming soon.

Extra, extra, CFW in the news! We were lucky to be featured in several local and national news outlets last month. Newspaper with magnifying glassOn December 12 our work was featured prominently in a Reuters story about the power of women's philanthropy. Allison Lowe-Fotos, a co-chair of the Young Women's Leadership Council and CFW's President/CEO K. Sujata shared their expertise on women's generosity. Crain's Chicago Business also wrote about philanthropy in its December 12 "Business of Live" section, focusing on Chicagoans of South Asian descent and featuring two CFW board members: Anita Sinha and Sharmila Rao Thakkar. CFW board member Marj Halperin was a guest on the WGN Radio show "Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg" on December 1 to debate conservative author Kay Hymowitz on women's and men's roles in today's society.

Did you miss the special screening of The Interrupters, part of our year-long cosponsorship of documentary films about women showing free of charge at the Chicago Cultural Center? Read a recap and help us congratulate the honorees, six women recognized for their mentorship of youth facing violence and hardships, including Shira Hassan of CFW reproductive justice grantee Young Women's Empowerment Project. The next documentary in the Women and Girls Lead series, Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, is January 21--hope to see you there! 

Stay cozy at our winter events
Keep the winter blues away at entertaining CFW events!

Miss Representation, a documentary film by Jennifer Siebel NewsomRepresent yourself at Miss Representation. On February 1, join CFW's Leadership Councils and our grantee cosponsors--the Institute for the Study of Women and Girls in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition's Associate Board, and Women Employed's Advocacy Council--for a free screening of the acclaimed documentary Miss Representation. After watching, stay for a talk-back about gender and discrimination in the modern media landscape, moderated by Jane M. Saks from the Institute who is also a member of CFW's Lesbian Leadership Council and Alumnae Council.

What does reproductive justice mean to you? This Saturday, January 7, the Asian American Leadership Council is cosponsoring a free community discussion about the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community and reproductive justice. This program is open to the public, and you don't have to be familiar with "reproductive justice" to attend.

Build up a sweat in 2012! Join a fun group workout with the Latina Leadership Council and "Zumba Into the New Year" on January 28. The $20 program at Xuntas will include an intro session led by Zumba instructor Cristina Grieco followed by free drinks and snacks with your workout buddies. Proceeds go to the council's Maria Mangual Unidas Fund.

Apply now for the
Advocacy Academy:

a yearlong workshop series designed for CFW grantees!

Direct-service and front-line staff at small- to mid-size nonprofits are invited to take part in CFW's first ever Advocacy Academy! You'll learn core advocacy skills, strengthening the capacity of individual organizations and setting the stage for new and stronger coalitions among grantees with shared goals. Learn more and download the application today! Deadline: Tuesday, January 24, 2012.

Grantees in the news
Don't forget: Spring 2012 letters of inquiry are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 18. Visit for forms and guidelines.

Chicago Magazine highlighted six "heroes among us" as Chicagoans of the Year, including Gabrielle Lyon, co-founder of Project Exploration, and Zully Alvarado, 2010 Impact Awards honoree and CFW Alumnae Council member who founded Causes for Change International.

Today's Chicago Woman's 30 for 30 grants honor many CFW grantees, past and present: Access Living, Beyondmedia Education, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Chicago Abortion Fund, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, The Dreamcatcher Foundation, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Rape Victim Advocates and The Voices and Faces Project.

Darlene Oliver, associate director of Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, was named one of The Chicago Community Trust's 2012 Trust Fellows (PDF).

CFW grantees: Want to be sure your news clips and awards get in the Blast? Email Blast editor Laura at or share the good news on our social media sites!

Upcoming events
Visit our website calendar to see all our upcoming programs and events.

JAN. 5 (Thurs.): EXTENDED Nomination Deadline for 2012 Impact Awards, 5 p.m.
JAN. 7 (Sat.): Let's Talk About Reproductive Justice with the Asian American Leadership
     Council, 2:30-4 p.m.
JAN. 18 (Wed.): Grants: Letters of Inquiry due, 5 p.m.
JAN. 21 (Sat.): Women and Girls Lead presents Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock, 2 p.m.
JAN. 24 (Tue.): Advocacy Academy application deadline, 5 p.m.
JAN. 28 (Sat.): Zumba Into the New Year with the Latina Leadership Council, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
FEB. 1 (Wed.): Miss Representation Screening and Talk-Back with all Leadership Councils,
     5:30-8:30 p.m.
FEB. 10 (Fri.): Board Boot Camp: Reboot early bird deadline, 5 p.m.
MARCH 15 (Thurs.): SAVE THE DATE: 2012 Impact Awards, 6-8 p.m.

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