GoWomen: CFW’s Long-Time Commitment to Ending Violence Against Women


October is domestic violence awareness month. My own experience working in a battered women’s shelter from 1981-1985, first as a volunteer, then counselor and volunteer, was one of the reasons Lucia Woods Lindley hired me to help start The Sophia Fund in 1983, a precursor to the Chicago Foundation for Women in 1984.

Learning from the women in the shelter made us begin to understand “intersectionality” in real time before the term was coined by Professor Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989. It is defined as “the complex, cumulative ways in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”

Women who were survivors of domestic abuse came to the shelter because they had nowhere else to go. They came from all economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. The shelter offered counseling and resources, but as important as these services were and are, they offer only temporary housing and food, temporary safety, and temporary child carechildcare. We learned why women often returned to their abusers who would frequently promise to atone, to never hurt them again, to care for them and their children. In particular, women of color, women with disabilities, women who were undocumented (at risk for deportation) often had fewer options for jobs and housing that would support their families if they left the partners who abused them. For many of women, “the effects of multiple forms of discrimination” were part of the reasons they found themselves needing shelter.

Domestic violence remains at the forefront of women’s issues. Just two years ago, the World Health Organization called violence against women a major public health concern and a violation against women’s human rights. Estimates indicate that 1 in 3 women worldwide have been subjected to physical violence, sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Vicious attacks on that women, trans and gender nonbinary individuals contiueare reported in the news every day. Each day, the impact of gender-based violence is felt not only by the individuals victimized, but also their children, families, and communities. And, this issue costs society billions of dollars each year in lost workdays, decreased productivity, and increased spending in healthcare.

At Chicago Foundation for Women, we envision a world in which all women and girls have the opportunity to thrive in safe, just and healthy communities. Through our grantees, we engage with women and girls directly and seek their ideas on prevention and solutions. We recognize the need for deep community relationships and as a singular organization, we realize that we can’t address the full impact and systemic causes of gender violence on our own. Through collaboration with others on the ground doing the work every day and investments to build more resources for women, we make a difference not only in supporting services, but also in preventing abuse from happening in the first place.

We know women need more choices for education, for job training, for health care and housing. We know shelter saves lives, but it isn’t enough. More and more programs are figuring out ways to include second stage housing, job preparation, childcare, and long-term counseling and need more resources to do so. We must also realize that as, Cara Hutto has described in an article in InHerSight, we need to understand the relationship between identity and power, that “everyone has different experience and faces oppression in various ways….” The needs of black lesbians are different from cisgender white women, are different from immigrant women, from women with disabilities. Understanding intersectionality helps to respond to individual women, girls, trans, and non-binary people with more effective help.

Through our grantmaking, we have supported organizations like APNA Ghar, whom we have proudly funded for over three decades and Women for Economic Justice, one of our newer grant recipients. These groups are teaching us every day what comprehensive services can mean to their clients. APNA Ghar provides critical, inclusive, culturally competent services like clothing, meals, legal resources, supervised visitation in a safe space and counseling to families seeking to change their lives. It also conducts outreach and advocacy across communities to end gender violence. Since 1990, they have reached more than 100,000 survivors and community members in the Chicago region.

Another of our grantees, Women for Economic Justice, seeks to build community power, especially among women of color, through engaging them in actions to build community and fight against structural inequality. They develop activists that work to organize in their neighborhoods to prevent violence.

These organizations are just two of the dozens that CFW funded in fiscal year 2023 that reduce the risk and support the survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Please see our website for the full list of the strength and dedication of our grantees working to respond to violence against women, one of the most dramatic and dire forms of sexism too many women are faced with every day.

As I think back on my experiences working in domestic violence support and awareness, I’m inspired by how far we have come. But we must continue to learn, to stretch our understanding, to deepen the resources, to recognize our differences and how to respond to them, to imagine and create more ways to prevent violence, and never let up until no woman, no family endures abuse in their lives.

Together we will persist,

Sunny Fischer,

CFW’s co-founder, and interim President & CEO


We are less than 30 Days Away from CFW’s Annual Gathering!

CFW’s 38th Annual Gathering will be on Tuesday, October 31, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. NEVERTHELESS, WE WILL PERSIST. We have ramped up our work because we believe that economic security, freedom from violence, and enhanced access to health services and information benefit all women and girls. Reserve your spot today here.

LBTQ Giving Council Pre-Holiday Popup

The LBTQ Giving Council will be hosting a holiday pop-up shop featuring women-owned small businesses on Saturday, November 11, 2023. A percentage of sales will go to the LBTQ Giving Council. Save the date and get a head start on your holiday shopping! 

Our News

WSGC Cocktails for a Cause

The Western Suburbs Giving Circle of CFW welcomed current and prospective members to kick off another year of grantmaking with Cocktails for a Cause at the elegant Lifetime Fitness Oak Brook. During the event we heard from two of CFW grantee partners, Inellas Restoration Center and Center for Advancing Domestic Peace. Both shared about the work that they are doing in the Western Suburbs.To view more photos from the event visit here.

Joint Grantee Celebration

The South Side Giving Circle and West Side Giving Circles joined together for an inspiring event to celebrate our partners who received grant and leadership awards from both circles in 2023. Their work helps uplift women and girls on both the South and West Sides of Chicago. View photos from the event here.

Open Call for New Giving Council and Giving Circle Members!

Giving Councils and Circles link grassroots organizations to funding and the Foundation to new issues, leaders, and ideas. The Young Women’s Giving Council, LBTQ Giving Council, West Side Giving Circle, Western Suburbs Giving Circle, and South Side Giving Circle of CFW are all currently recruiting new members this fall for the new grant cycle. Visit here to learn more about membership for each circle and council.

CFW is hiring!

We are seeking candidates for the following open positions:

The Program Officer, Women’s Leadership Development, provides facilitation, coordination and community building for the Women’s Leadership Development programs of CFW.This role is responsible for the Willie’s Warriors Black Women’s Leadership program, Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership program and Board Member Boot Camp and Boot Camp Express.

The Director of Development is responsible for growing the resources and sustainability of the Foundation. This individual also oversees the development team. This person frequently represents the Foundation with key stakeholders, community members, donors, and organizational allies.  

The Director of Finance is responsible for ensuring the stability of the organization’s finances. The Director of Finance will assess financial markets and identify solutions to any issues that may arise.

Find the full job descriptions here.

West Side Giving Circle supports Black Women and Girls

Corliss V. Garner joined FOX32 to speak about the West Side Giving Circle. Philanthropic women on Chicago’s West Side came together through the Chicago Foundation for Women to empower fellow Black women. The West Side Giving Circle supports small grassroots organizations founded by Black women for Black women. The giving circle was founded in 2021, and also helps connect women in leadership. Watch the full interview here.

Chicago Foundation for Women to Host Annual Fundraiser

The Citizen Newsgroup featured the announcement of CFW’s 38th Annual Gathering in an article. The Annual Gathering raises critical funds to support CFW’s mission of investing in women and girls as catalysts for strong communities. Read the full article here.

Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership program invites applications

Crossroads Fund, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), Woods Fund Chicago, Walder Foundation, and the Chicago Community Trust have announced that applications are now open for the joint effort, Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership program. Read the full article here.

Our Community

Polished Pebbles Girls is hiring!

The Program Facilitator is responsible for facilitating and supporting Polished Pebbles curriculum and leading activities for the mentees and Polished Pebbles stakeholders helping to increase their confidence, encouraging active participation and long-term involvement across all Polished Pebbles Programs. Program Facilitators are also responsible for the timely collection of compliance data for effective program evaluation and feedback to ensure our programs stay relevant to all mentees.To apply visit here.

City of Evanston Entrepreneurship Support Grant

The program is intended to assist in the growth of jobs in Evanston through entrepreneurship, helping residents and local business owners to create jobs by starting and retaining sustainable small businesses. Funds can be used to cover operating expenses, equipment, licensing fees, and other eligible expenses. Learn more about eligibility here.

The City of Chicago Law Department is hiring!

The City of Chicago Law Department is hiring for entry, mid, and supervisor level attorneys. View the open positions and job descriptions here

Community Resources

Support Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Search by various criteria the City of Chicago minority and women-owned businesses here.
Bossy Chicago has curated a list of women-owned businesses in various sectors across Chicago, which you can find here.
YShop – YWCA Metro Chicago’s online store, offering a curated selection of goods and services with a portion of each sale benefiting YWCA

Mental Health Resources

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has compiled a list of mental health resources you can find here.
2-1-1 Metro Chicago Hotline

211 Metro Chicago is a free resource connecting all Cook County residents with essential health and social services to help them meet their basic needs. Trained, local specialists are available 24/7 to connect individuals with the support they need, such as food, housing, utility assistance, access to health care, and other vital resources. Learn more here.

Anti- Racism Resources

For White Allies

  • Resources for white community allies or those seeking to become allies can be found here.

For Latinx Allies

  • Resources in Spanish for our Spanish-speaking Latinx community allies or those seeking to become allies with Spanish as their preferred language can be found here.
  • Recursos recopilados para aliados de nuestra comunidad Latinx o aquellos que buscan convertirse en aliados y su idioma de preferencia es el español se pueden encontrar aquí.

For Talking About Race with Children

  • Compiled resources for ways to speak to children about racism can be found here.

Bystander Intervention Training

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