CFW invests $360,000 to support women and girls impacted by COVID-19
September 23 2020

Including support to enhance the capacity and sustainability of nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable communities.

CHICAGO — As the global pandemic continues to ravage Black and Brown communities across the Chicago region, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) has announced initial COVID-19 Community Response Grants of 51 investments totaling $363,180.

There is a great need for funding among organizations addressing the critical needs of women, girls, trans, and gender non-binary BIPOC communities throughout the region. CFW received 82 applications requesting over $570,000 in funding, of which more than half are organizations new to the Foundation. To streamline the grantmaking process, CFW recruited 36 diverse community stakeholders from its Giving Councils and Circles, Program and Advocacy Committees, and current and alumnae members of Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative, in order to collectively review and assess each funding request received.

As Black and Brown communities continue to, disproportionately, bear the brunt of the pandemic, economically, and in terms of health, CFW is committed to ensuring organizations that put these vulnerable communities first receive support. The nonprofits selected as grant recipients are mostly grassroots organizations with operating budgets under $1 million, serving the communities of Chicago’s south and west sides and suburban neighborhoods across the region. The areas of focus for these investments include food access, technology (for the organization and or community served), direct emergency cash/grants, personal protective equipment (PPE), and hygiene products.

“These investments are the first in a series directly responding to the needs of the communities most impacted by COVID-19,” said Felicia Davis, President and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women. “The selected grantee partners are providing an essential safety net for vulnerable communities. These initial investments are an extension of Chicago Foundation for Women’s ongoing support to ensure that women and their families have what they need to recover from this pandemic and that our City rebuilds on a stronger foundation of equity and justice.”

Critical needs being addressed by these grantees include childcare, technical assistance to support remote learning, access to food, financial assistance for immediate needs, virtual and socially distant mental health services, and other services to support the health and overall wellbeing of families most impacted. Some grants also directly address the need for capacity building and sustainability of organizations serving these communities. During the pandemic, these nonprofits have adeptly enhanced and pivoted their programming to address the changing needs of the communities they serve, adapting to provide immediate needs like food, housing, cash, and virtual services addressing the impact of physical and social isolation.

Grant recipients include:

Austin Childcare Providers Network comprises 50 home-based family childcare providers and 11 center-based childcare facilities located on Chicago’s west side. The centers are providing children learning remotely the necessary tools and resources to support their crucial academic development through adapted programming to meet the needs of the community.

Grow Your Own Teachers (GYO) works to increase education equity for public students by recruiting, preparing, and retaining community-oriented teachers of color. Many of GYO’s teacher candidates have been adversely impacted by ongoing systemic racial and income inequalities, including African Americans, Latino, and essential workers. GYO provides emergency funds for those candidates facing extreme hardship due to job and income loss and illness.

Healing to Action’s (HTA) mission is to end gender-based violence by building the leadership and collective power of the communities most impacted. Incidents of domestic violence have increased dramatically, as survivors are confined to their homes with the perpetrators of abuse, unable to access crucial resources like support networks, social services, and external income. HTA is addressing COVID-19’s impact by enhancing its technology infrastructure to provide virtual programming in support of its leaders to sustain their work.

Henry Williams Love Foundation (HWLF) was established to provide short-term supportive services and advocacy to youth and families in need. HWLF looks to incubate six small Black women-owned solopreneur businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The Black Business Incubation program addresses barriers to business success unrelated to capital in support of best practices, including lack of a business plan, website, or tax classification.

RefugeeOne creates opportunities for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution, annually helping 2,000 refugees, immigrants, and asylees regain their independence and build new lives for their families, through safety, dignity, and self-reliance. The pandemic has adversely impacted many of its clients, some of whom are ineligible for unemployment or stimulus support.

Senior Rainbow Assistance Program provides LGBTQ seniors and adults with the support they need to remain safe, warm, and healthy during a time of most need, through financial assistance to provide basic necessities.

TPA Network has been serving HIV positive individuals and at-risk communities for 32 years. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need to make sure the communities at risk for chronic illness and health disparities have the support they need to remain safe and healthy. TPAN is working to ensure older, HIV positive Black Women in Chicago receive the appropriate level of support services and primary care in order to safeguard their physical and mental health.

Due to the pandemic, CFW was unable to host its largest fundraiser of the year on September 16th. This Annual Luncheon would typically provide over $1,000,000 toward the Foundation’s grantmaking. Regardless, CFW remains committed to invest at least $1 million before the end of the year to support COVID-19 response and recovery, with the next round of grants going out as early as next month. Thanks to the incredible generosity of a local family foundation, every dollar donated to CFW now until October 15 will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.


CFW has invested over $39 million in organizations supporting women, girls, trans, and gender non-binary people since its founding in 1985.

For the complete list of grants awarded for COVID-19 Community Response, click here.


About Chicago Foundation for Women

Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) invests in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. CFW funds organizations working to solve the biggest problems facing women and girls: economic insecurity, violence, and lack of access to health care and information. Since its founding, CFW has invested over $39 million in hundreds of organizations, leveraging the generosity of more than 2,700 donors, impacting more than 90,000 women, girls, trans, and gender non-binary individuals in our region. In addition to grantmaking, CFW invests in developing women leaders and advocates, and brings together diverse coalitions to collaborate, share resources, and develop solutions. Learn more at