GoWomen: Flippin' the Script on "Philanthropy"
September 04 2019

Philanthropy made for us, by us.


Flippin’ the Script on “Philanthropy”

Today, September 4, 2019, marks my 100th day at Chicago Foundation for Women. For this month’s President’s Letter, I want to go back to the beginning of my CFW journey, as a founding member of the South Side Giving Circle. In the early days of the South Side Giving Circle at Chicago Foundation for Women, my six co-founders and I agreed that the moniker “philanthropist” did not feel quite right for the members of our group. To many of us, the image that is conjured up when one thinks of a philanthropist is usually someone with expansive privilege, an excess of financial resources, and perhaps someone who comes from generations of wealth.

So, we were bold in calling ourselves Queenmakers with the stated goal of investing in women leading change in our communities. As Queenmakers we are flipping the script on philanthropy and recognizing the power of community, the power of the collective. The power of many coming together with modest financial contributions and massive dedication and talent, to lift up one another and lift up entire communities of Black women and girls.

This ability to write the story for ourselves, to script a philanthropy that is made for us, by us, is what drew me to CFW. The South Side Giving Circle, along with the recent launch of the Willie’s Warriors Leadership Development Initiative, helped me to see myself reflected clearly in CFW. I suspect this constant reimaging of oppressive narratives, this flipping of the script, is also what drew nearly 180 diverse women as members of the six Giving Councils and Circles of CFW in the past year.

Kim Hunt has been a member of the LBTQ Giving Council since 2014. She initially joined the Council because “creating the opportunity for more resources to be directed to [LGBTQ] organizations was important to me.”

Community is central to the mission of the LBTQ Giving Council. “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,” says Kim.

Over half of the organizations first funded by a Giving Council or Giving Circle of CFW – many of which are emerging organizations for whom CFW is the first institutional funder – have gone on to receive general funding through the Foundation.

For Kim, an affinity-based giving council is “a form of activism too. Philanthropy is something that we often associate with wealth, but anybody can be a philanthropist. It’s taking what resources you have and using them to support causes that you’re interested in.”

Help us rewrite the story of what it means to be a philanthropist. Consider giving what you can, and know it is more than enough. I also invite you to join us as a member of one of our six Giving Councils and Circles today. Learn more here.

Let’s get to work,

Felicia Davis
President and CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women



Meet the Annual Luncheon Co-Chairs

David Hiller is President and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations. The McCormick Foundation’s mission is to foster communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through grant-making programs and the gardens and museums at Cantigny Park, the Foundation helps strengthen families and communities in Chicagoland and Illinois.

(Note: To learn more about Regina Cross and Janice Rodgers, the other two co-chairs of this year’s Annual Luncheon, be sure to check the May 2019 edition of GoWomen here!)

Why is investing in women and girls a priority for you? 

Women and girls have not always had the same access and support as men. This is further accentuated for women and girls disadvantaged by poverty and discrimination. Investing in women and girls is a priority for me because every person, regardless of their race, gender or zip code, should have the opportunity to realize their potential and contribute to society.

What are you most looking forward to at the 34th Annual Luncheon?

Being in a room with two thousand people passionate about creating equitable opportunities for women and girls.

What is one narrative you would like to see ‘flipped’ for women and girls?

Post-9/11 veterans continue to have persistently higher rates of unemployment than other veterans. This dilemma is even more pronounced among women veterans, with unemployment among post-9/11 women veterans reaching as high as 12.5%. Challenges in the labor market are worsened by medical and mental health concerns, and studies show that women veterans also have difficulty translating their military experience into civilian employment.

We would like to see the employment gap among veteran women close. Women are the backbone of our families. Veteran women in particular demonstrate above average leadership and heroism. These women have a tremendous skill set to lend to society and should be welcomed and provided with the resources they need to realize their potential and contribute to civilian society in a way that they can and should.



34th Annual Luncheon: 1,200 registered and counting!

Have you locked down your spot for Chicago Foundation for Women’s 34th Annual Luncheon featuring former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth? Tickets and tables are selling fast! You don’t want to miss this signature event in the local women’s movement. Learn more and register here today.

2019 Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls Report

On August 14, Chicago Foundation for Women released new data on the status of women and girls in Chicago.The report (available for download here) showed that from 2016 to 2017, the Chicago region made moderate progress towards gender parity. However, it made it evident that gaps still remain, and significant inequities emerge once data is broken down by race and industry.

To raise awareness about these important findings and further highlight what CFW is doing to drive change and continue to close the gap for women and girls, CFW hosted The Whole Story: The Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls on August 14 in partnership with the Chicago Public LibraryHeartland Alliance and the Office of the City Clerk. City Clerk Anna Valencia and Katie Buitrago, Director of Research for Heartland Alliance, joined CFW President and CEO Felicia Davis to each share the latest data, policy recommendations and opportunities for attendees to take action for women and girls.

Amy Eshleman, First Lady of the City of Chicago

CFW was honored to have the First Lady of Chicago, Amy Eshleman, in attendance to kick off the event and highlight Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to do more for women and girls in Chicago.

Willie’s Warriors Application Deadline: September 9

Applications are now open for the next cohort of the Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative at Chicago Foundation for Women. Willie’s Warriors focuses on building skills around systems change, economic empowerment, communications and building alliances. Created in honor of the Reverend Willie “The Little Warrior” Barrow, Willie’s Warriors continues Rev. Barrow’s legacy of bringing women together to support and learn from each other. Willie’s Warriors is open to women who identify as Black from all sectors and industries interested in nurturing their leadership and building deep relationships with other Black women leaders in the Chicago region. Applications are due Monday, September 9 – learn more and apply here today. Know someone who should apply? Be sure to send this opportunity their way.

Now is a great time to join a Giving Council or Giving Circle

Members of the LBTQ Giving Council of CFW at their signature fundraising event.

When you join one of the Giving Councils or Circles of CFW, you have an opportunity to bring fresh ideas, unique concerns and perspectives, and new energy to philanthropic leadership and advocacy. Break barriers for the women and girls you care about, and expand Chicago Foundation for Women’s grantmaking by joining one of CFW’s six Giving Circles or Giving Councils today:

LBTQ Giving Council: Mobilizing resources to support LGBTQ-identified individuals

Women United Giving Council: Supporting and elevating culturally rich and diverse communities of women and girls (membership will open again in 2020)

Young Women’s Giving Council: Investing in and empowering girls and young women to create social change

North Shore Giving Circle: Creating meaningful impact in the lives of women and girls in the northern suburbs

South Side Giving Circle: Paving a path to investment in women and girls on Chicago’s South Side (membership will open again in 2020)

Western Suburbs Giving Circle: Connecting resources and solutions for women and girls in the western suburbs. Please join us for the Fall Social & Info Session on September 26 to meet members and learn more. RSVP here.

2020 Impact Awards: Nominations Open

Do you know someone making a difference in the lives of women and girls? Nominate them for a 2020 Impact Award! Nominations are open to individuals of all identities and backgrounds working to build a safe, healthy and just Chicago for all women and girls. Nominations close September 30, 2019. Nominate someone in your community today.



WBEZ: In 2017, Chicago Area Women Earned 78% Of What Men Made

A mural by artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh in Chicago’s Wabash Arts Corridor. Photo credit: Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

WBEZ’s Natalie Moore recently spoke with CFW President and CEO Felicia Davis to discuss CFW’s recent report: The Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls. “I expected to see more gender equity in other areas,” said Felicia. “Women’s participation in the workforce increases, but they continue to be paid less than men.” See WBEZ’s coverage here, and check out Philanthropy News Digest’s recent article on the report here.

Chicago Tribune: Equal Pay Day is not “equal” for all women

Last month, August 22 represented Equal Pay Day for Black women. This means that Black women will have to have worked all of 2018 and through August 22, 2019 to earn what men earned in 2018 alone. CFW President and CEO Felicia Davis proudly joined YWCA Metropolitan Chicago CEO Dorri McWhorter, Women Employed CEO Cherita Ellens, and others to co-author a commentary in the Chicago Tribune: “It takes 20 months for a black woman to earn what a man earns in a year. We can fix that.

Forbes: Find Your Tribe And Give Back At The Same Time

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s latest report, All In For Women & Girls,shows that women’s foundation and fund donors – the vast majority of whom are women – are exemplary in many ways. In a recent Forbes article, CFW President and CEO Felicia Davis notes: “When these individuals come together in community, they share a level of engagement, deep commitment to justice, and a zeal for learning that is distinct from other donor communities.” Read more here.

Felicia joins Joan Esposito on WCPT 820 AM

CFW President and CEO Felicia Davis

CFW’s President and CEO, Felicia Davis, recently sat down with Joan to discuss her story, her career trajectory, the recent release of CFW’s Status of Women and Girls report and what’s needed to improve the lives of women and girls in Chicago. You can watch and listen here on Facebook. (Note: Felicia’s interview starts at 1:18:40.)



What role does “toxic masculinity” play in mass shootings?

Other than the use of a gun, the other common denominator linking all but three mass shootings in the United States since 1966 is the fact that all were perpetrated by men. According to this recent commentary from Steve Hewitt and Christabelle Sethna, “We need a sustained discussion about the intersection of masculinity, whiteness and American gun violence.” Read more 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.