GoWomen: The FIRST Step
May 02 2018

Announcing a new fund at CFW


The FIRST Step

This time last year, Illinois was approaching the end of a second year without a state budget, and social services across the state were scrambling to close the funding gap. The impasse made clear the necessity of stable, reliable funding for critical services like domestic violence shelters, which were driven to the brink of closing.

Limited resources often mean providers are only able to focus on the immediate, day-to-day responsibilities of keeping the lights on, doors open and services running. This doesn’t leave time or resources to think about innovation or pursue creative community-based solutions. Providers find themselves stuck on a treadmill – treating the symptoms, without getting to the root causes of violence and abuse.

To end the cycle of interpersonal violence in our communities, we need space for innovation: to pursue new partnerships, pilot new programs and build upon what is already working. To support innovation, Chicago Foundation for Women, in partnership with Crown Family Philanthropies, the Michael Reese Health Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and other local foundations, is launching the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund.

The FIRST Fund is a joint grantmaking fund to support organizations in planning innovative, collaborative and community-based solutions to address domestic violence. Social IMPACT Research Center’s 2017 report “Connecting to Safety and Stability: Domestic Violence Needs Assessment of Chicago” identified key challenges facing the sector:

– a lack of targeted services on the Chicago’s south and west sides;

– insufficient services to meet demand, resulting in survivors being turned away;

– limited access to counseling, legal, financial and housing services; and

– a need for cross-sector collaboration.

The FIRST Fund will seed collaborative, community-centered planning to spur innovation, address the underlying systemic issues that spiral into domestic violence and move our region closer to the day when no woman has to live with the threat of violence.

You can learn more about the FIRST Fund, including how organizations can apply, here. We also invite you to join us for an information session at Chicago Foundation for Women on Friday, May 11, at 2 p.m. Register here.

With highest hopes,

K. Sujata
Chicago Foundation for Women



Talk It Out: #MeToo Report

Chicago City Clerk Anna M. Valencia and staff in the Office of the CIty Clerk gathered to Talk It Out.

What comes after Talk It Out? CFW asked participants and hosts for feedback on how they plan to build on the conversations they had back in March. 78% of respondents said Talk It Out changed the actions they will take at home and work, and 89% said they will share what they learned with others. Talk It Outconversations also got people thinking about advice they would offer to anyone dealing with harassment – you can read their tips and other #MeToo resources in CFW’s Talk It Out: #MeToo Report here.

May 23: Celebrate Spring with CFW in Oak Park

Join CFW for the annual Oak Park House Party on Wednesday, May 23. This intimate gathering brings together CFW’s closest supporters in Oak Park for a night of great food, wine and conversation on how we can direct our collective efforts to create change in our communities.

Guests will have the opportunity to hear directly from participants in Young Women Warriors, a CFW grantee that supports the development of young women as future leaders who inspire and advocate change. The VIP Reception will feature an intimate conversation with Emily Kraiem from Women’s March Chicago and CFW Founders Sunny Fischer and Iris Krieg. Special thanks to Benefactor Sponsor Mary Jo Schuler!

Tickets are now available! Learn more about the event here.

Coming Soon: Willie’s Warriors Applications to Open

Willie’s Warriors, a leadership development program for Black women in the Chicago region, will begin accepting applications at the end of May! Willie’s Warriors is open to Black women from all sectors and industries interested in building upon their leadership skills to advance issues of equity. The program curriculum will focus on systems change, economic empowerment, communications and building alliances. Cohort members will gain a better sense of themselves as leaders and how best to sustain themselves while moving their communities forward. The cohort will meet in Fall 2018. Applications will open at the end of May and close on June 29. Be on the lookout for a follow-up email when applications open!

CFW + Bon Iver

CFW is partnering with 2 A Billion, a campaign created by indie folk band Bon Iverto raise support, awareness and person-to-person connections in an effort to end gender inequality, domestic violence and sexual abuse. A portion of Bon Iver ticket sales will support investments in basic rights and equal opportunity for women and girls in the Chicago region. CFW will also have a table at the Bon Iver concert on Sunday, June 3 – stop by and say hi!



Creating Harassment-Free Concerts

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Coachella kicks off the summer season of music festivals, and women are speaking out against harassment they are subjected to while trying to enjoy their favorite music. Teen Vogue reported on the rampant harassment at Coachella – of the 54 women they interviewed, all had been harassed – and highlighted the work of Our Music My Body, a campaign by CFW grantees Between Friends and Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) working to promote a harassment-free music experience for all.

Also taking a stand against violence and harassment in the music industry was grantee A Long Walk Home, which worked with the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at University of Illinois-Chicago to #MuteRKelly and cancel a scheduled appearance at UIC in light of longstanding accusations of abuse and assault.

Shriver Center on The Future of Justice

CFW grantee the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law released a new report, The Future of Justicesummarizing the issues and strategies discussed at the Shriver Summit and offering examples of advocacy work advancing those strategies at the state level, including work by grantees Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Access Living and COFI.

Protecting Asylum for Survivors of Abuse

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center successfully won asylum for L.C., a Honduran woman fleeing gang violence and an violently abusive husband, allowing her and her daughter to start a new life in Chicago. But now, Politico reports, safety for women like L.C. may be harder to come by, if Attorney General Jeff Sessions limits protections for survivors of domestic violence seeking asylum.

The Women Behind “Lettie”

Image courtesy of Victory Gardens Theater

Grace House, a program of CFW grantee St. Leonard’s Ministry, provides transitional housing, as well as mentoring and job readiness support for women who have been incarcerated. The transition from incarceration back into everyday life is the the focus of Lettie,” a new play at Victory Gardens. The Chicago Tribune followed along as the cast and crew of “Lettie” met with residents and staff at Grace House for a performance and discussion.

Arise Chicago’s Labor Ordinance Advances

Photo courtesy of Arise Chicago.

CFW grantee Arise Chicago celebrated the successful introduction of a local ordinance to create a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to educate employers and employees of their rights and responsibilities under new policies governing minimum wage, paid sick time and wage theft. You can read more about theproposed ordinance herey en español aquí.



Young Women’s Giving Council ERA Panel: May 14

From the Women’s Marches to #MeToo, there is a renewed focus on the Equal Rights Amendment, a Constitutional amendment that would enshrine gender equality at the federal level. Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the amendment in 2017 – now is the time to pass it in Illinois. The resolution to ratify the Equal Right Amendment has passed the Illinois Senate and is now in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Learn more about on-the-ground efforts to pass this Amendment in Illinois and what its passage would mean for women at Not Your Mama’s ERA, featuring a screening of the documentary Legalize Equality, a short film excerpted from the award-winning documentary Equal Means Equal, and a panel of Chicago’s most dedicated activists and professionals from the ACLU, Ratify ERA Illinois and Healing to Action. Come learn more about the ERA and how you can be part of this groundbreaking and historic moment for gender equity. This event is free and open to the public. Learn more here.

The Young Women’s Giving Council members had the chance to meet Kamala Lopez, the film’s director, at the Chicago ERA and Equal Pay Day Rally on April 10.

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Up at U of I

The University of Illinois saw an increase in reports of sexual misconduct in the past two years, which they are attributing to increased public awareness and support for survivors and the #MeToo movement. Read the full story here.

#MeToo and Incarcerated Women

Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

With all the increased attention to assault and harassment sparked by #MeToo, incarcerated women are still waiting for their #MeToo moment. Kim Brown, an anti-domestic violence and criminal justice reform activist who served 17 years in prison, penned an OpEd for the Huffington Post on the experiences of women in the criminal justice system: “Over 85 percent of incarcerated women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes.” Read her full piece here.

Leave a Legacy of Purpose with CFW

Nicole Robinson honored her family’s history and her grandmother’s legacy by starting the Lueavery Partee Fund at CFW. 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.