GoWomen: Our Favorite Month of the Year
March 04 2020


Our Favorite Month of the Year

March is Women’s History Month, and as it happens, we also celebrate CFW’s 35th birthday this month. Fun fact, as many things don’t happen on the first try, we would have celebrated our anniversary this past December, but our initial filing status was denied due to including the word ‘benevolent.’ The handwritten note received from the IRS remarked that the word relates to moral duty and cannot be enforced by law. The filing was revised, resubmitted, and approved in March 1985. Personally, I think the world could use more benevolence; let’s revisit that another time.

Legal details aside, our founders, Marjorie Craig Benton, Sunny Fischer, Iris J. Krieg, and Lucia Woods Lindley, came together because they saw a need for increased and intentional focus on investing in women and girls. At the time, only 3 percent of corporate and foundation philanthropic dollars were directed into programs for women and girls. Since then, we have harnessed our collective giving, impact, and learning to enact change. It hasn’t been enough — we’re still fighting for gender equity across all fronts, but we’re making some progress.

Today, women are outpacing men in educational attainment at all levels; according to a recent WSJ report, women have overtaken men as the majority of the U.S. workforce, and we have increased representation in all levels of government, including here in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, where some of the top elected and legislative positions are held by women.

It gives me great pride to be among the women of color leading community organizations and foundations across Chicago that are working to uplift the residents in our city and region. We’re partnering with government leaders, at all levels, to ensure legislation makes sense and that the solutions presented are equitable for all residents in our region. We have partnered to support the passage of several pro-women laws, including the Reproductive Health Act, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, and Ban on Salary History at the state level, as well as the Paid Sick Leave, Fines and Fees, and Fair Workweek ordinances at the city level.

However, all women, including many of CFW’s grantee and partner organizations, are still fighting on the front lines for basic, fundamental rights and the funding required to support those efforts. As of 2016, 1.6 percent of the $396.5 billion in total giving by Americans was directed to organizations supporting women and girls.

As a foundation, we’re working on more learning, collaborating, and innovating to address obstacles in a thoughtful and holistic manner. We’re also using measurement and evaluation to drive impact and sharing what we’ve learned to educate our peers in the philanthropic sector, government and corporate partners, and the public at large, that when we invest in women and girls, entire communities benefit. One way we are being intentional about knowledge sharing and collective learning is through our 2020 #TalkItOut Series. A three-part speaker series, free and open to the public, focused on addressing topics we often don’t talk about, where we invite attendees to have an honest discussion in a safe and brave space about ways to address issues impacting our communities.

Let Women’s History Month remind us what’s at stake for gender equity. Let the women trailblazers we recognize throughout the month, including our incredible 2020 Impact Award honorees, empower and encourage us to stay the course and continue in this work.

Let’s get to work,

Felicia Davis
President and CEO
Chicago Foundation for Women



2020 Impact Awards

Join us for the 2020 Impact Awards as we honor local leaders for their commitment to improving the lives of women and girls by supporting fundamental rights and equal opportunities. Help us celebrate their incredible work on Wednesday, March 18, at the Chicago History Museum.

Learn more about this year’s honorees and register here. Consider sponsoring in honor of one or all of our remarkable honorees, and you will have the opportunity to write a message to them that will be included in the program.

2020 #TalkItOut Series

We’re taking a fresh look at some of the most pressing issues facing women and girls, trans, and gender non-binary people in Chicagoland today through our 2020 #TalkItOut Series. Join us and our partners as we step up and explore new ways of making progress in addressing those challenges at our first event in the series, Beyond the Binary: Building an Inclusive Movement for Gender Equity, at the Chicago Cultural Center on Thursday, March 19. Find more info here.

The Intersection of Black Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health

Felicia Davis wrote a guest blog post for Planned Parenthood of Illinois sharing her views on the importance of reproductive health, especially for Black women. Read more here.

Our 2019 Annual Report: With Us, For Us is Available Online at withus.cfw.org

As a community-based funder, we are only as strong, innovative, and effective as our community. And, the CFW community rocks!

Our sincerest thanks to everyone who supported CFW’s 2019 investments in 117 organizations working to improve the lives of over 70,000 women, girls, trans, and gender non-binary people in our region.

Together, we are building a stronger, more equitable Chicago region. For women. For girls. For all of us. Read more in CFW’s 2019 Annual Report: With Us, For Us, and share your thoughts with us by using #CFWWithUsForUs.



Gender Equity Benefits All

Did you know that if the Chicago region had best-in-class gender parity, our GDP would increase by $58 billion by 2025? That’s what a recent McKinsey Global Institute report found. Hear from Felicia Davis on how CFW is working to make this a reality for our region on a segment for Comcast Newsmakers here.

2019 Chicago Innovation Award Winners Meet with President Preckwinkle

On January 20, President Preckwinkle met with the 2019 Chicago Innovation Winners for a round table discussion about our innovations and the positive impact our work could have for the County and our region. Read more here.



South Side Giving Circle Grantee Celebration

The South Side Giving Circle hosted their 2020 Grantee Celebration on Sunday, February 9, at Gallery Guichard, to highlight the outstanding work of their grantee organizations, including A Long Walk Home, Girls Like Me Project, Her Future Teen Mom Empowerment Group, Ladies of Virtue, and the Dreamcatcher Foundation, along with the Leadership Award recipient, Lauren Cole of Her Future Empowerment. The event was featured on WGN — see the segment here.

Young Women’s Giving Council Beyond Quotas Event

On Thursday, February 20, the Young Women’s Giving Council hosted a full house for a night of conversation and networking with Chicago-based professionals from a diverse range of industries and backgrounds. They discussed how to implement initiatives prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

LBTQ Giving Council featured on OUT CHICAGO

Lauren Birchlove, chair of the CFW LBTQ Giving Council, joined Scott Duff on this week’s episode of OUT Chicago — Chicago’s only live broadcast for the LGBTQ community — to talk about the work of the LBTQ Giving Council and the upcoming International Women’s Day Dance. Listen to the broadcast here (Lauren joins at 1:08:03).

LBTQ International Women’s Day Dance

Join the LBTQ Giving Council for the 6th Annual International Women’s Day Dance on March 6! Music, light bites, and two drink tickets are included with each ticket purchase. Find more information here.

YWGC Feminism on Tap

Join the Young Women’s Giving Council on March 30 at Lagunitas Brewing Company for Feminism on Tap! All funds support the Young Women’s Giving Council’s grantmaking efforts focused around the belief that all women and girls should have adequate access to healthcare, be free from violence, and be economically secure. Learn more and buy your tickets here.

Equal Pay Day Chicago 2020 Rally

The Equal Pay Day Chicago 2020 Rally will be held on October 29 (Latina Equal Pay Day) instead of March 31. Find more information here.

Days after new immigration restrictions take effect, federal judges in Chicago grill Trump administration lawyer on so-called public charge rule

Our grantees, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and HANA Center, are working to combat this unfair law. Read more here.

Chicago’s new Office of Labor Standards seeks to expose employers taking advantage of workers

ABC7 Chicago’s i-Team investigated labor trafficking, which features our grantee Arise Chicago. The newly created Chicago Office of Labor Standards is looking to enforce all city employment laws, including the minimum wage and paid sick days. Watch the segment here.


Maximize the Benefits of your IRA for CFW!

Giving to charitable organizations through your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a tax-efficient way to support the most pressing needs of women and girls in Chicago.

If you are over 70 ½, consider using your required minimum distribution to make tax-free donations (up to $100,000) to Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) this year. It’s as simple as directing your IRA administrator to make a distribution. To discuss how you can maximize the benefits of your IRA and support CFW, contact Katy Thomas at 312.577.2836 or kthomas@cfw.org. Or, learn more about the many, easy ways you can include CFW in your estate plans here.