GoWomen: A New Chapter for Chicago
April 03 2019

A reflection on our history.


A New Chapter for Chicago

To be back at Chicago Foundation for Women as Interim President/CEO is like coming home.

In 1985, when we first founded CFW, we were one of a handful of women’s funds across the country. In the early years, we made approximately $117,000 in annual grants. It fills me with pride that last year, CFW made its largest-ever investments in women and girls, totaling $2.6 million and serving over 50,000 women, girls, trans and gender-nonconforming people across the Chicago region.

People have often asked me and my sister co-founders, Marjorie Craig Benton, Iris Krieg and Lucia Woods Lindley, if we imagined all this when we were starting out all those years ago. To which we say, emphatically, ‘yes!’

CFW was created to change the way we think about resources for women and girls: as strategic and significant investments in our region’s next generation of civic, business, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, and in building safe, just and healthy community across our region. CFW was created to fuel big, ambitious goals; to end gender bias in our region not ‘someday,’ but in our lifetimes.

Over the past thirty-four years we have seen many barriers broken, and though there’s much work to do, we can still celebrate our successes. This week, Chicago made history with the election of Lori Lightfoot as the first Black woman to serve as mayor. This is an important step in building a Chicago in which women and girls have a voice at every table where decisions are made. This new chapter is an opportunity for Chicago to recommit to that vision.

In setting her agenda, we encourage Mayor-elect Lightfoot to utilize a gender lens to address the implications of any policy on all women and girls, and we urge her to take decisive action on key priorities for gender equity in our city: the New Deal for Chicago’s Women and Girls; increasing opportunities for tradeswomen; addressing violence against women and girls; and making Chicago the best place for women to work with fair, equitable and safe workplaces, and access to affordable quality childcare.

A generation of Chicago’s girls will come of age in a city led by a Black woman. This must go beyond the symbolic. It must be an explicit commitment to improving the lives of women and girls, and to building a safe, just and healthy Chicago for all. Chicago’s community of women, girls and partners stands ready to work with the next mayor to make Chicago the best place in the country for women and girls.

With highest hopes,

Sunny Fischer
Interim President/CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women



Congrats to the 2019 Impact Award Honorees!

On March 27, CFW celebrated local leaders making a difference in the lives of women and girls at the 2019 Impact Awards! From groundbreaking strategies for increasing resources for women and girls; creating safe, supportive space for trans youth; starting dialogue and building movements across communities; and investing in Black girls as leaders, this year’s honorees embody the spirit of CFW, acting boldly, being all in and going all out to build a more equitable Chicago region, for all of us. Thank you to all the community members, past honorees, Willie’s Warriors, friends and godchildren of Rev. Willie Barrow, board members and sponsors who joined us to celebrate. You can meet the 2019 Impact honorees here, and the first-ever recipients of the Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow Emerging Leaders award here.

Is someone in your community making an impact for women and girls? Nominate them for a 2020 Impact Award!


Spring 2019 Willie’s Warriors Kicks Off

The spring cohort of the Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative brings together 14 Black women leaders from diverse backgrounds in healthcare, education, advocacy and community services to create a pipeline and network of Black women leaders committed to equity and justice in Chicago. Over the next five months, the Warriors will gain a better sense of themselves as leaders and develop skills related to systems change, economic empowerment, communications and strategic alliances, while building a supportive network.


Save the Date: 34th Annual Luncheon

Change the story for women and girls with CFW at our 34th Annual Luncheon on Tuesday, October 15 at the Hilton Chicago. Secure your seat today with a sponsorship.


Chicago Talks It Out

In high schools, corporate offices and gyms, from Evanston to Hyde Park, women and men, girls and boys from across our region came together for over 75 conversations imagining what a truly equitable, bias-free Chicago could look like, and how we can all work together to get us there, as part of Talk It Out 2019. Did you add your voice the conversation? Take the Talk It Out survey to share your takeaways and feedback.


Join CFW on the North Shore

This intimate gathering will bring together Chicago Foundation for Women’s closest supporters in the North Shore for a night of great food, wine and friends. Location provided upon RSVP. Committee still in formation — please join us! Contact Nancy Garcia at ngarcia@cfw.org for more information.


Celebrate Spring with CFW

Join CFW and friends for an intimate gathering in Oak Park as we continue to pursue our mission to invest in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. Committee still in formation — please join us! Contact Nancy Garcia at ngarcia@cfw.org for more information.



CFW’s recommendations for Chicago’s new mayor

What can Chicago’s first Black woman mayor do for women and girls? CFW Interim President/CEO Sunny Fischer offers recommendations for how the new mayor can take decisive action to make Chicago the best place in the country for women and girls, from building fair and equitable workplaces to addressing violence against women and girls. Read the full OpEd here.



A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, “Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color,” explores the intersection of race, gender and philanthropic giving, and how diverse women are leading the way with collective and community-led giving. The report sparked#IAmAPhilanthropist, with women of a variety of backgrounds sharing their philanthropic journey, including Nicole Robinson, a founding member of the South Side Giving Circle of CFW. Nicole’s experience and her work with the South Side Giving Circle were highlighted in ForbesInside PhilanthropyRefinery29 and the Chicago Tribune. “We don’t want to stand on the sidelines. We want to be part of making something happen. It’s empowering,” Nicole says.


Monumental Women

Photo by Melissa Ann Pinney

CFW partnered with The Wing, a women’s co-working space, to raise awareness about the city’s monumental lack of female representation in parks and other public spaces. The Wing honored four Chicago trailblazers – Ida B. Wells, Lorraine Hansberry, Lucy Parsons and Jane Addams – with live statue tributes throughout the city. Listen to an interview about the monumental women here.


When Men Are Advocates

Inside Philanthropy highlights growing efforts by funders, including CFW’s Champions of Change, to invest in engaging men and boys as advocates for gender equity by transforming attitudes, changing corporate culture, and recognizing and interrupting gender bias. Read the full article here.



Chicago’s New Deal for Women and Girls

On March 8, the Chicago City Clerk, in partnership with CFW grantees Women EmployedWomen’s Justice InstituteMikva ChallengeYWCA Metropolitan Chicago and others, announced a set of 20 recommendations to make Chicago a safer and more equitable place, and the best city in the world for women and girls. The recommendations were a product of the Clerk’s Status of Women and Girls Working Group that was made up of a diverse group of women and girls across sectors and industries, including government, education, nonprofit, corporate and service industry. You can read the full report here.


Removing Barriers to Health Care

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board endorsed efforts by CFW grantee ACLU of Illinois to protect access to health care, information and resources for young people by repealing parental notification requirements in Illinois. “Six years of experience with the law, unfortunately, tells us that it hasn’t worked. The requirement that a girl go before a judge in some cases has put girls in real danger,” the Editorial Board writes. Read the full OpEd here.



Feminism On Tap


Make a Collective Impact

#IAmAPhilanthropist highlights the many ways diverse women across our region are making a difference in their communities, as volunteers, individual donors and through collective giving models. The Giving Councils and Circles of CFW offer a path to invest in and connect to your community in the Chicago region, and to make an impact on the issues and organizations that matter to you. The Women United Giving Council is currently accepting new members. For more information about the Giving Council, contact Eli Marsh at 312.577.2825 or emarsh@cfw.org.


Heartland Alliance’s Newest Report On Illinois Poverty

Poverty and inequity uniquely harm women and gender minorities. Heartland Alliance’s 2019 Report on Illinois Poverty, “The Gender Disadvantage: Why Inequity Persists,” argues that improving the well-being of women — particularly women of color — would deliver the greatest impact in the fight to reduce poverty and boost Illinois’s economy. Read the full report here.


Leave a Legacy of Purpose with CFW

A former welder, and the daughter of farmers, Reverend Willie Taplin Barrow does not fit the stereotypical image of a philanthropist. But as a leader in Chicago’s civil rights movement, Rev. Barrow believed in breaking barriers and challenging the status quo. Thanks to her estate, Rev. Barrow’s legacy and fierce commitment to justice lives on through The Willie Taplin Barrow Fund for Black Women’s Leadership at Chicago Foundation for Women. There are many ways to leave your legacy at Chicago Foundation for Women. To learn more about planned giving, visit www.cfw.org/plannedgiving, or contact Katy Thomas at 312.577.2836 or kthomas@cfw.org.