GoWomen: Look for the dreamers
November 07 2018

The power of our imagination


Look for the dreamers

Image via CreateHER

As Halloween costume displays are replaced with holiday decorations, I am still thinking about the power of imagination. As children, our imagination allows us to transform into superheroes and mythical creatures. As adults, imagining the world that could be – a safe, just and equitable world – is what keeps many of us going through the difficult times. Last night’s historic wave of women elected to public office was driven by a belief in a better, more equitable future.

There is no doubt, these are difficult times. Our thoughts and solidarity are with our transgender, Jewish and immigrant neighbors – we will not allow you to be erased or allow the violence you have endured to be forgotten; with the survivors of sexual assault – your voices matter; with anyone working to build safe communities – your work is critical now. We continue to imagine – and work towards – a world in which we are all safe, respected and valued, no matter our race, gender, origin or gender identity.

In moments of crisis, we are encouraged to “look for the helpers.” I take strength from knowing our community is full of helpers. At CFW we are also looking for the dreamers, those who are imagining bold and creative new ways to solve the pressing challenges before us.

And our community is brimming with hopeful, creative imagination. Last month, CFW and local foundations announced investments of over $169,000 in planning for innovative and collaborative solutions to domestic and intimate partner violence. CFW released our 2018 Annual Report: DARING, featuring the stories of community members who are daring to re-imagine systems and philanthropy, and daring to dream of a brighter future for their families and communities.

And this #GivingTuesday, CFW is asking our community to help select a new and creative initiative for women and girls to receive a special one-time #GivingTuesday grant of $10,000.

Our creativity and imagination are our greatest resources. They are constantly renewable and cannot be taken from us. They give us the tools to not only dream of a better world, but to create a path to get us there.

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women



CFW’s DARING Annual Report

Times like these require us all to dare to do more to protect basic rights and equal opportunities for all women and girls. So in Fiscal Year 2018, Chicago Foundation for Women made our largest ever annual grantmaking to date, investing over $2.6 million in innovative and daring solutions to the most pressing challenges facing women and girls. Every day, we are transforming our region through acts of bravery big and small. Read the stories of the individuals and organizations in the CFW community who are daring to build strong communities, for all of us.

FIRST Grants to Support Innovation + Collaboration

CFW, in partnership with Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Ellie Fund at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Chicago, The Michael Reese Health Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and VNA Foundation announced eight grants from the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund, totaling $169,150, to support innovative and collaborative solutions to domestic and intimate partner violence. FIRST Fund grants will support the planning of diverse initiatives led by: Between Friends; HANA Center; Healing to Action; The Family Defense Center; Lake County Crisis Center (A Safe Place); Latinos Progresando; Resolution Systems Institute, Inc.; and YWCA of Evanston/North Shore. Learn more about the projects funded here.


Leading up to the seventh annual #GivingTuesday on November 27, CFW is asking our community to help select an innovative and creative initiative to receive a special $10,000 investment. Individuals who make a gift leading up to and on #GivingTuesday will have an opportunity to vote for one of three innovative programs that are improving the lives of Chicago-area women and girls. The program with the most votes will receive a special, one-time $10,000 #GivingTuesday award. The two runners-up will receive awards of $2,500 or $1,000. Finalists will be announced and voting will open next week – stay tuned!

Tell Us Why You Give

Tell us why you give.

CFW is conducting research to help the philanthropic and nonprofit community better understand the many ways people give back to their communities, and to more effectively engage communities of color in developing funding priorities and directing investments. In an effort to ensure representation, we ask that Latinx and Native American/American Indian community members consider participating in the survey. Your responses are critical to ensuring that we capture the diversity of giving in Chicago. Take the survey here.



“No One Can Do It Alone”

The FIRST Fund is part of a growing movement of collaborative philanthropy models to address violence, as covered by Inside Philanthropy. In a feature on recently announced FIRST Fund grants, Inside Philanthropy reporter Julia Travers writes, “despite the pervasiveness of this problem, domestic violence has never risen high on philanthropy’s agenda. Historically, few major foundations or major individual donors have focused in this area, and advocates and practitioners in this space often find themselves scrambling for resources…What’s notable about the FIRST Fund collaborative is that its backers include some of the most prominent philanthropies in Chicago.” Read the full story here.

A “Do Tank” on the Status of Women and Girls

CFW is proud to be member of the steering committee for the new Status of Women and Girls in Chicago working group, convened by Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia to recommend citywide policies and initiatives that will make Chicago a safer, more equitable place for girls and women. CFW released a report on the status of Chicago’s women and girls earlier this month, drawing on data collected in 2016. Read more about the initiative here.

Vote Her In on CAN TV

CFW President/CEO K. Sujata joined Julia Stasch, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Kimberly Foxx, State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois; Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and author Rebecca Sive to celebrate the publication of Rebecca’s new book, “Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.” Watch the full panel discussion on CAN TV.

Pro-Choice Leadership Award

CFW President/CEO K. Sujata received Personal PAC’s Pro-Choice Leadership Award at the 25th Annual Awards Luncheon, for the Foundation’s financial support and work advocating for Illinois’ House Bill 40, which solidifies the state’s commitment to women’s full reproductive choice and removes discriminatory limits on accessing reproductive care for low-income women. “Choice allows women to chart their own paths. It is integral to women’s economic security and safety,” Sujata said while accepting the award. “Choice in itself is not enough – we must also have justice. CFW is proud to be part of a community working toward reproductive justice for all women and girls.” Read full coverage of the event here.



Stopping the Stigma

To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, Erin Walton, Executive Director of Resilience (formerly “Rape Victim Advocates”) and Carmen Gonzalez, Vice President of Evaluation and Domestic Violence at Mujeres Latinas en Acción joined ABC 7 Windy City Live to discuss the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence and how their organizations are supporting survivors in healing, working to educate young people and removing the stigma around reporting violence. Watch the full conversation here.

Unequal Treatment Keeps Women in Prison

NPR, the Medill School of Journalism and the Chicago Reporter collaborated on a four part series investigating the way women are disproportionately disciplined in prisons, resulting in longer prison stays and further harm to families. The investigation was based on the Women’s Justice Institute’s original research showing that women in Illinois prisons received as much as eight times the number of disciplinary infractions compared with men, on average, and that many were held in prison for years longer as a result. Listen to the full series here.

Stopping the Debt Spiral

Parents canvassing

Image courtesy of COFI

Spurred by the actions of a POWER-PAC Illinois, a local group of African-American and Latina low-income mothers and grandmothers trained by Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a proposed ordinance was introduced in Chicago calling on the City to reduce the burden of exorbitant municipal fines and fees for survivors of domestic violence, victims of identify fraud and low-income mothers, among others. Earlier this year, POWER-PAC released their report “Stopping the Debt Spiral,” which chronicles how low-income mothers of color have become indebted by systems that have a disproportionate impact on low-income people and predatory systems that take advantage of people living on a low income.

Equal Pay Veto

Director of Equal Opportunity Policy at Women Employed Melissa Josephs penned an OpEd for Crain’s Chicago Business explaining why Governor Rauner’s decision to veto a bill that would ban employers from asking applicants about their salary history is a rejection of equal pay. Writes Melissa: “In declining to sign the No Salary History bill, which would strengthen the existing Illinois Equal Pay Act, Rauner is perpetuating the income inequalities that exist in our state by allowing employers to use wage histories to determine salary offers, rather than pay workers what a job is worth and what their qualifications demand.” Read the full OpEd here.

Black Trans Lives Matter

LaSaia Wade, Executive Director of Brave Space Alliance, continues to call on Chicago police to step up efforts to solve two recent murders of transgender women. Dejanay Stanton and Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier were murdered in August and October. Read the full article here. The Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize those murdered as a result of transphobia is held on annually on November 20.

YWCA Chicago CEO Profiled in Crain’s

Crain’s Chicago Business profiled the modernization efforts led by YWCA Metropolitan Chicago CEO Dorri McWhorter, lowering turnover, increasing revenue and budgets and launching a social impact exchange-trade fund. In January, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago plans to roll out Respect, a Mastercard prepaid debit card, for its clients and the 2,000 small-business owners who run child care centers for YWCA. Read the full feature here.



The Power of Women’s Rage (Giving)

A new report from Women’s Philanthropy Institute found that women are “using their financial assets to make their voices heard and express values,” and as a result progressive organizations engaging with key election issues saw a significant increase in donations following the 2016 election – “rage giving.” Download the report here.

Chicago’s Human Rights Defender

Eva Lewis, founder of The I Project and a CFW 2017 Impact Award honoree, represented the United States at the Human Rights Defenders World Summit in Paris. The Summit brought together leaders from around the world to develop a plan of action for how to protect and promote the work of activists fighting for rights. Read the full story here.

Join a Giving Council or Circle

Increase your investments in women and girls and leverage your dollars by contributing them to a collective fund as a member of one of the Giving Councils or Circles of CFW. Giving Council and Circle members have the opportunity to review proposals from local nonprofits working to benefit women and girls in the Chicago region and recommend funding to groups of their choice. Making local investments for over a decade, the Giving Councils and Circles of CFW have invested nearly $900,000 in women and girls in the Chicago region. Bring fresh ideas, unique perspectives and new energy to philanthropic leadership and advocacy, and expand Chicago Foundation for Women’s grantmaking. Learn more about how you can get involved in the Giving Councils and Circles of CFW 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.