GoWomen: What Sustains Us.
December 07 2016

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What Sustains Us.

CFW at Chicago Rising

The tumultuous presidential election will no doubt bring many changes over the next few months and years. Yet, one thing remains constant: it is my conviction, now stronger than ever, that the solution to all that ails our communities is right here, in front of us.  It is in our homes, our schools, on our streets.  It is in the corporate board rooms and in child-care centers.  It is outside my office door as I write this. It is women and girls.

I was reminded, recently, of the power that  a small investment in women can have in building stronger communities for all. With a $5,000 grant from Chicago Foundation for Women, Deaf Planet Soul has been able to host self defense classes for Deaf women and provide targeted seminars in schools and community centers, reaching groups of Deaf, Muslim and LGBT folks, and other diverse and marginalized communities. In a recent note to us, they shared the impact of the election on their work. Concerned by the nationwide spike in hate crimes following the election, several women reached out to Deaf Plant Soul asking how to defend themselves against someone trying to rip off their headscarves.  In response, Deaf Planet Soul designed a Hate Crime Survival Seminar and shared tutorials of  “hijab grab escapes” on Facebook. About a week later, one of the videos had received more than 3.5 million views and had been shared more than 57,000 times, reaching various news outlets like The Washington Post and The Guardian.

“Through all this chaos, I wanted to take a moment to thank the Chicago Foundation for Women,” says  Z. Abdulla of Deaf Planet Soul.  “Were it not for your initial funding, we never would have developed the class and, eventually, the Hate Crime Survival Seminar. This is truly life-changing work that you have funded and I want you to know how much this means to me and my intersecting communities.”

I am also sustained by the nearly 250 of you who donated and voted in CFW’s #GivingTuesday campaign last week.  Some donors gave $5, some gave $500. Every dollar counted. Many took to social media to share their excitement about giving to support women and girls of color.  And in the end, our community joined in solidarity behind Muslim women, selecting the Muslim Women’s Alliance (MWA) to receive a $10,000 #GivingTuesday grant from CFW.  As MWA remarked on their Facebook page, “for MWA to win at this time in history is a testament to all the incredible people who voted for us. We are renewed in our dedication to elevate women and girls.”  I could not agree more.

During this holiday season, join me in reflecting on what sustains and motivates you. What keeps us fighting, speaking out, giving and trying harder? How do we remain open to the possibility that, just because something always has been, does not mean it always has to be?

For me, it is the CFW community that keeps me going. It is the nearly 100 grantees who collectively improve the lives of over 95,000 women and families across the Chicago region each year.  It is the more than 2,000 donors who give boldly of themselves and their resources.  It is our Board and our staff. It is women from all backgrounds coming together to stand with Muslim women on #GivingTuesday.

It is you. You inspire me each day.  Thank you for that.


holiday eat drink give

7th Annual North Shore Holiday Party – Dec. 15

In its 7 year history, the North Shore Holiday Party has raised over $100,000 for women and girls in the Chicago area. Please join Chicago Foundation for Women and friends on Thursday, December 15 in Kenilworth for an intimate holiday gathering as we continue to pursue our mission to invest in women and girls as catalysts, building strong communities for all. Learn more and register here.


Chicago Metro. Merger Project Featured in The New York Times

Photo courtesy of The New York Times/George Etheredge.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times/George Etheredge.

The Metropolitan Chicago Nonprofit Merger Research Project was the focus of a recent New York Times article, When Should Charities Throw In Together?” In it, Gillian Darlow of the Polk Bros. Foundation, the lead donor for the research, says, “truly successful mergers start with a focus on the mission. Is this a good strategic choice for us? Can we increase our impact?”

The study, coordinated by Mission+Strategy consulting with CFW as the fiscal sponsor, looked at key factors that led to successful outcomes in 25 mergers that took place between 2004-2014, across sectors such as healthcare, human services, adoption, job training and literacy. The study also includes five in-depth case studies, including the merger of Chicago Foundation for Women and the Eleanor Foundation Strategic Alliance. The full report can be found at: chicagonpmergerstudy.org.

CFW’s #GivingTuesday Featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Thousands of nonprofits across the nation that participated in Giving Tuesday raised an estimated $168 million online, with 1.6 million people giving and thousands volunteering during the event, which is now seen by many as the start of the holiday giving season. This year, CFW’s #GivingTuesday featured an online, community-led grant contest.  Read more here.


Apply Today for the CFW Advocacy Academy!

It’s a good time to get more savvy about doing advocacy work. This program will ground your team — especially mid- or junior-level staffers —  in the basics: lobbying, understanding the state budget, building coalitions, telling your story and using social media, among others, over a seven-month period. Download the Application Here (Word Document). DEADLINE: Dec. 9, 2016. For questions please contact Alysia Tate, Director of Programs, at atate@cfw.org or 312-577-2813.

Create a Legacy of Equity

Nicole Robinson, Vice President of Community Impact at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, honored her grandmother's legacy, which includes moving from Arkansas to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, by starting the Lueavery Partee Fund at CFW.

Nicole Robinson, Vice President of Community Impact at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, honored her grandmother’s legacy, which includes moving from Arkansas to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, by starting the Lueavery Partee Fund at CFW.

Have you considered leaving a legacy at Chicago Foundation for Women? There are many creative and flexible giving options that can benefit both you and CFW, whether it is naming Chicago Foundation for Women as a beneficiary in your estate plan or life insurance policy, or gifting other assets. For more information about creating your lasting legacy at CFW, call Katy Thomas at 312-577-2836 or email kthomas@cfw.org.

The United State of Women


A coalition of women’s organizations, including CFW, came together to activate people across the country by declaring December 3, 2016 the United Day of Women. On December 3, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, Black Lives Matter Activist Brittany Packnett, CEO and Founder of MomsRising Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, and Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar led a conference call with thousands of participants gathered for local strategy sessions across the country. The call connected attendees directly to tools, resources and grassroots organizing tactics from movement leaders. Following the call, discussions continued at the more than 300 events nationwide, as well as online.  Learn more and join the movement here.

CFW joins LOL Illinois, Can You?

LOL Illinois image

As Illinois citizens, it is up to us to put pressure on our elected leaders to do their job and pass a responsible, balanced budget. That is why The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago launched LOL Illinois: This is not a laughing matter, to put pressure on our State’s leadership to act on a responsible, balanced budget.

While we may have different positions on the particulars of a budget, we can all agree on the necessity of having a budget. You have a stake in the future of Illinois. Join us! There are a number of ways that you can get involved – learn how here.

Giving in Action: A Grantee Showcase

Photo courtesy of Cat Pants Media.

Photo courtesy of Cat Pants Media.

Giving in Action: a Grantee Showcase was quite the success! We were 50+ strong celebrating, connecting and learning. The giving councils’ grantees shared compelling stories of the necessity and innovation of their work, and we heard from the LBTQ, Women United and Young Women’s giving councils about their dedication to intersectional grant making, the importance of funding emerging organizations and what we can look forward to this upcoming year.


EverThrive Illinois Speaks Out on Illinois Budget

In an op-ed, Janine Hill, executive director of EverThrive Illinois, makes clear the human costs of our elected leaders’ failure to do their jobs. As of 2014, Illinois had an infant mortality rate of 6.2 per 1,000 live births, significantly higher than the national average of 5.8 deaths. While there are many tested programs in Illinois that can help low-income families address risk factors for infant mortality, funding has shrunk and Illinois is still without a full-year state budget. One in three families has been harmed by the budget crisis and many of these families face the kinds of economic and social pressures that increase the risk of infant mortality. Read more here.


WJI Report / Key Findings

Logan Correctional Center. Photo courtesy of The Associated Press/ Seth Perlman.

Logan Correctional Center. Photo courtesy of The Associated Press/ Seth Perlman.

On November 18, 2016, CFW grantee the Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI) hosted a forum to convene top Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) officials, national experts and local leaders with formerly incarcerated women and their families to support the release of a groundbreaking report revealing critical challenges at Logan Correctional Center, and to feature details of an unprecedented IDOC women’s corrections reform strategy. Read coverage here and download the full report here.