GoWomen: Reflections and Resolutions

Reflections and Resolutions

Reflections and resolutions—may be a useful way to begin a new year, especially 2024, a year of change for Chicago Foundation for Women. Reflecting on the CFW journey and what it means for our future inspires many memories of how we started the journey: with a vision and passion for change, and an unwavering commitment to addressing the pressing issues affecting women and girls in the Chicago region

CFW’s journey began in the early ’80s when Lucia Woods Lindley, Marjorie Craig Benton, Iris J. Krieg and I dreamt of an organization that would challenge philanthropic institutions to address issues uniquely faced by women and to acknowledge that women’s organizations were in the best position to respond to the needs. Too often organizations with the best intentions were trying to serve women without first understanding the issues. Women who were being abused at home were told to “try to avoid upsetting your husband.” Women who were sexually assaulted were asked what they were wearing at the time of the attack. Women who were offered job training were not provided child care or other necessary supports. And the organizations that knew how to respond directly to the needs were underfunded if not completely ignored. We knew, along with our sister funds across the country, the women’s funding movement was essential.

Over the years, working in communities and listening to women in nonprofits sharing their issues and their needs, we began to hone in on three core pillars that then became the architecture of our efforts to empower and uplift women in Chicago: Expanding economic security, ensuring freedom from violence, and enhancing access to healthcare services. We’ve continued to evolve by embracing diversity and inclusivity, recognizing the need for representation and voices from diverse communities to guide our actions.

Many people believe that philanthropy is something only the wealthy can take part in. We had hoped to create a foundation where everyone could take part. One of our earliest donations came from a working woman who said that the $50 she was contributing was the first gift she made without first asking her husband. That was one of our favorite gifts! We wanted to inspire women to give and we wanted to democratize philanthropy by founding an institution where all would be welcome.

We also believed that at its best, “philanthropy” stands distinct from “charity”. Philanthropy as we understand it creates systemic change, addresses root causes, and champions sustainable solutions. Anyone can be a philanthropist and any size donation makes a difference in the fight for women’s rights. At CFW, we have seen first-hand the impact that small donations can have on organizations working to make change within their communities. Every giftcan make a difference. It’s that simple, it’s that powerful, and anyone can join us. The reason we have been able to contribute over $45 million since our inception is that we have had thousands of people join us with donations reflecting people’s ability and desire to give, from $5 to $1 million.

As we embark on a new year as an evolving organization, we’re not merely commemorating the past but setting our sights on the future. Looking forward, our mission remains: to support women, girls, trans, and gender nonbinary individuals across the Chicago region so they are healthy, safe, and economically secure. Through our investments to help womenled and focused organizations to start, grow, and thrive, we find new ways to forge meaningful collaborations in our communities that transcend boundaries.

Women’s organizations play a pivotal role in advocating for gender equality, fostering empowerment, and addressing issues that disproportionately affect women globally. These organizations serve as platforms for women to amplify their voices, share experiences, and collectively work towards social, economic, and political advancement. They provide a supportive network where women can access resources, mentorship, and opportunities for skill development, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Their existence not only fosters solidarity among women but also drives progressive transformations crucial for a more equitable and just society. The Women’s Funding Network was essential in making this happen together. In WFN’s last member survey in 2022, WFN’s members invested $1.4 billion annually in advancing gender equity. WFN’s network spans the globe representing members based in 14 countries but also serving beyond the countries they’re based in.

FreeRoot, for instance, is one of the many organizations in which we invest that is working in communities to address issues holistically and empower women. FreeRoot is championing Black women, with an emphasis on mothers and preventative measures to stop poverty-induced gun violence. Their work, much like CFW’s, is informed by asking marginalized communities about their needs. By really listening to the women it serves, FreeRoot is addressing issues like food insecurity and building spaces for women to come together and build supportive networks. It is one of many organizations we fund that are living our mission

We are deeply grateful for our organizational journey thus far, for the work of the organizations we champion, and for your unwavering support over the years. We will continue to support women as they pave the way for a more equitable and just society. When women rise, communities soar.

Together we will persist,

Sunny Fischer

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

Western Suburbs Giving Circle Requests for Proposals are due February 15th

The Western Suburbs Giving Circle is seeking proposals from local agencies working to advance economic security, freedom from gender-based violence and access to health. The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2024. To learn more visit here.

The WSGC is a group of Cook County and DuPage County women who combine their funds to address the needs of women and girls in the western suburbs. Since its inception in 2016, WSGC has awarded over $225,000 to local organizations working with women and girls. WSGC will be accepting applications for program or operating support in any of CFW’s three issue areas: economic security, freedom from gender-based violence, and access to health.

Early Bird Tickets are now on sale for LBTQ Giving Council's International Women's Day Dance

The LBTQ Giving Council will host their returning International Women’s Day Dance on March 9th, 2024 at 4432 S Ashland. Early bird tickets are now on sale until February 9th! All funds from the event will go towards the grants made by the LBTQ Giving Council to organizations and programs benefiting lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning women and girls in the Chicago region. Sponsorships are available! To learn more visit here.

Our News
Staff Updates

Christina Armstrong

Christina Armstrong is committed to empowering and transforming communities. For close to twenty years, she has developed and managed impactful programs, events, spaces and content for children, youth and adults. As a nonprofit leader, coach, trainer, facilitator, circle keeper/restorative justice practitioner, advocate and artist, she has engaged a wide range of individuals in leadership development, socio-emotional learning, civic engagement, restorative practices, the arts, health and wellness, college and career readiness, tutoring and mentoring. With a passion for racial and gender justice, she has been involved with various organizations in celebrating, uplifting and advocating for Black cis and trans women and girls.

Christina obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in Educational Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Christina was raised and currently resides on the Southside of Chicago. She enjoys composing music and performing as a vocalist and pianist.

Andrew Orrego-Lindstad

Andrew Orrego-Lindstad is a results-oriented nonprofit professional with nineteen years of experience in nonprofit management, development, government relations, marketing, and communications. During his career, he has managed multi-million dollar giving programs, specializing in institutional giving, major individual giving, and planned giving. Andrew has broad nonprofit experience, leading organizations in education, arts and culture, and mental health spaces. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Colorado, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota. As an avid music lover and foodie, Andrew enjoys singing with and serving as Vice President of his chorus, Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, experiencing live performances, and discovering the most delicious food at Chicago restaurants.

Betty Sanchez-Azadeh

Betty Sanchez-Azadeh is a proud Chicago native, daughter of Mexican and Ecuadorian immigrants, mother, and wife. She has dedicated her career to working with non-profit organizations and is thrilled to be joining the Chicago Foundation for Women as the Director of Finance.

A seasoned financial professional, Betty has held key positions at multiple non-profit organizations in Chicago, overseeing multi-million-dollar budgets and spearheading organizational growth, all while keeping her organization’s goals at the heart of her work. Betty previously served as the Director of Finance for the American Vein & Lymphatic Society; La Casa Norte; and Erie Neighborhood House/Erie Elementary Charter School. She also served in various positions, including as Finance Manager, for the Chicago Park District.

Betty received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago and a Certified Nonprofit Professional Credential from North Park University. A dedicated Loyola alumna, she served in various roles, including as Board President, on the Loyola University Latino Alumni Board for nearly 15 years.

CFW is hiring!

We are seeking candidates for the following open positions:

The Manager of Communications is responsible for promoting the Foundation through community and media outreach, marketing, online communications and public relations. This position includes creating informative content, project management and implementation; intensive writing and editing on deadline; aggressive media outreach and story placement; interagency collaboration; public relations and speechwriting for Foundation events; production of all Foundation marketing materials and videos; and general communications.

Find the full job descriptions here.

In The News

Tis the season for giving: A guide for how to give, even a little

CFW’s Program Officer, Vanessa Lee, spoke with AP News about end of year giving and the value of small donation gifts. Read the full article here.

Our Community

COFI is hiring!

COFI is looking for experienced organizers for a range of positions. At least 2 years of organizing experience is required, and COFI is particularly looking for staff with 3-5 years of organizing experience. To learn more visit here.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is hiring! 

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is seeking a mid-level Scholarship and Streetlight Coordinator to join our Law Project team to manage the Streetlight App and companion website on behalf of CCH, manage the CCH Scholarship Program, and in the process, work to advance racial equity. To learn more 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.

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