A holistic approach to supporting women and their families.
Last year, working with nearly 3,000 donors and local partners on the front lines, we funded more than 160 projects serving over 70,000 women, girls, transgender, and gender non-binary people across the Chicago region.
“Investing in girls and women is like releasing the untapped potential of half of the population to ensure that we are able to exceed expectations and our competitive advantage. In doing so, we empower the voices of our sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, and neighbors to bring solutions to problems that are too complex singularly to address.”
“Women’s leadership is something that has always been important to me. There are a lot of great women leaders who don’t necessarily perceive themselves that way because they don’t have the title, or haven’t done a lot of networking because they’ve been doing the work. I see the value in helping them participate in the larger community and to see themselves as leaders and to understand the value of them reaching back and helping other women. There’s a lot of great talent out there that is undiscovered in the broader community.
It is unique to be part of a group focused on Black women’s leadership – knowing that it’s important to strengthen leadership in all kinds of ways, doing it for women – and African American women in particular – and to honor Rev. Willie Barrow is just great.”
“The South Side Giving Circle is an opportunity to elevate the strong history of philanthropy in Chicago’s African American community and demonstrate our collective impact. We have an opportunity, particularly because it’s a group of women getting together with a focus on enabling organizations that serve women and girls, to think differently about how we are engaging in grantmaking.”
“When we invest in realizing the potential, dreams and skills of women and girls, we will see more women in positions of leadership. We will see fewer ‘firsts’ and more ‘second, third and fourth’ women to reach great heights and inhabiting certain spaces won’t be so lonely. We can shape and normalize what is considered possible for the next generation of girls. Investing in women and girls today means investing in their future.”
“It is great to see so many of our collaborators in one room through the Eleanor Network of CFW. Every time I come to an Eleanor Network meeting, I meet someone new or learn about new resources for our clients, I find new and different ways of helping our community.”
“I invest in women and girls by giving my time as a consultant, coach, teacher and Willie’s Warriors Advisory Board member. When I teach Board Member Boot Camp, we have a very candid conversation about women serving on boards. We know boards are no more diverse than they were 10 years ago, so we talk about how women can position themselves to become a leader within the board. Women are interested in how their skills will be utilized to help the organization accomplish its mission.”
“The Young Women’s Giving Council of CFW provides me with the opportunity to continue developing leadership skills, network and create community with like-minded young professionals, and participate in grant making for emerging nonprofits supporting women and girls. After working in several community-based settings, I’ve been deeply inspired by the community members and leaders who ‘do the work’ on the ground to change their lived realities.”
“It is extremely important to me that women and girls are provided the opportunities to change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families. That’s why supporting Chicago Foundation for Women means so much to me – because of the work they do to invest in organizations that empower women and girls.”
“We need to teach girls that they can be successful in STEM. That confidence will enable girls to become women who are successful in both trading and technology. A greater female presence in both fields will lead to further innovation and success in the industry.”
“One of the main things that inspires me everyday is to keep working towards a world where there is gender equity in my own faith. I’ve always been taught that Islam is a religion of deep compassion, deep justice, and deep charity. It is an injustice that there is a silence and a stigma around sex and sexual assault and everyday I am working to push back against that narrative.
“CFW was fundamental in helping us build our work and our operations to get to a point where we’re not just doing a one-off program but we are able to think about strategically where we want this work to go.”
“Investing in women is a priority for me in my work and I am proud of Deloitte’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.
“While we are proud of the progress that has been made, we do see Inclusion as an ongoing journey, and we are continuously challenging ourselves to innovate our approach to meet the needs and expectations of an evolving workforce. The more inclusive a team is, the more diverse the thoughts, perspectives and ideas are, which inevitably can lead to more success.”
“Philanthropy often doesn’t think about or highlight the experiences of women and girls who have been underrepresented. Ensuring that intersectionality is a part of the conversation is really critical. The members of the Women United Giving Council bring their background and bring their full selves to the table.
“We are all working towards transformative justice. CFW and the WUGC gives me that opportunity and gives me the space to do that. When women get together and put their resources together, that’s when you really see that transformation moving.”
“Being a part of the Eagle Clan, we’re raised with the intent that we’ll be leaders. But that’s not just given to you; you have to earn it. I was raised with an awareness of responsibility for more than just myself. In addition to giving financially, it was also important to give of our time and energy. Contribution takes many forms and giving both monetarily and with time were routinely encouraged as one grows with both forms of giving.What mattered is that you were at the table and you could still give something.”
“Finding CFW grantee Chicago Women in Trades changed my life. Chicago Women in Trades and Chicago Foundation for Women are daring to break down the barriers that keep women out of good paying, but ‘nontraditional’ jobs, like welding and construction.
“Welding has given me confidence. I walk on to the production floor every day knowing that I am good at my job and I deserve to be there. The trades are no longer a boy’s club. Women are proving ourselves as hardworking and capable as any man.”
“Women’s health is something everybody should care about. New cases of HIV/AIDS disproportionately affect women of color. It’s poverty-related. What is so appealing about CFW is that it is connected to so many organizations on the ground. And $100, $2,000, $5,000 goes a long way with those smaller organizations. And their work is tailored to their community. And oftentimes, that is what’s needed in that spot – trying to move just a few people along.”
“As a nonprofit executive director, I came to appreciate how important it is to have donations both from foundations but also the community you’re serving. One thing about this giving council, because there are community groups around the table, there is an awareness of community groups that might otherwise fly under the radar of a foundation because the council members are in the trenches doing that work.
“Funding those small scrappy organizations that are doing work that may escape the gaze of larger organizations is critical.”
“We must believe that advertising can be a force for good in the world, and this [bias against women] is one of the key areas where that can be shown. On this specific topic, there are several important ways of doing it. Amongst them is making sure that we help manage brands that have a clear point of view on that culture of bias against women and that we spark our own initiatives that break it down.”
“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.”
“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.”
“My mentor helps me out with my college applications, essays, even personal life, ANYTHING!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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’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.”
“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.”
“The Polk Bros. Foundation is proud to partner with 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.”
“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 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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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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.