Response, Recovery, and Resilience

From opportunist attacks on healthcare access for women, to the inability for women to be free from gender-based violence as they shelter-in-place, the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women and girls is visceral.

Women are working on the frontlines of the pandemic as child care workers, home health and personal care aides, grocery store clerks, and registered nurses — low-paid positions that put them at risk of exposure. They are also overrepresented in occupations in industries such as restaurants, retail stores, and hotels that are being forced to eliminate workers. It is the unfortunate reality that women, and especially, Women of Color, are quite literally carrying the burden of this pandemic on their backs.

As the leading investor in women and girls, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW) is the fuel and connective tissue Chicago needs to bring people together to have a greater impact during this unprecedented time.

Join us. Make a gift to the Response, Recovery, and Resilience Fund today.

RESPONSE, RECOVERY, RESILIENCE: A Pathway Forward for Chicago’s Women and Girls

Chicago Foundation for Women is addressing both the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 through its Response, Recovery, Resilience strategy.

Response, Recovery, Resilience is rooted in CFW’s core belief that gender equity and racial equity are interdependent and that we will not achieve one without the other. We know that Chicago’s communities live multi-issue lives, which requires a multi-solution approach. An intersectional equity analysis considering gender, race, place, and additional identities is critical to create the conditions in which all people have what they need to thrive post-pandemic.


There is no shortage of good work happening now to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago. However, we know from our own experience, as well as our global partners working on international disaster relief efforts, that typically disaster relief often neglects the needs of women, girls, gender non-binary people, and other marginalized communities. We also know that when gender justice groups lead recovery, these moments can offer an opportunity to build a new, more equal, world.

Through the Response strategy, CFW will provide emergency relief with a gender lens through community response grants to organizations that are community-based and are in the position to rapidly move resources into the communities of women and their families that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CFW believes that these organizations will understand the needs of women, girls, transgender, and gender non-binary people of color and their families because they have deep relationships within the community. At this time, over 50% of funds have been directed to organizations with budgets of $1 million or less.

In addition, CFW is strongly positioned to harness this unprecedented opportunity for systemic change through collective impact, bringing to light the most critical issues impacting women and girls, particularly those not rising into the limelight and those that fall at the intersection of race and gender.

"After too many years living day by day, I am excited for the future.
Thanks to Chicago Foundation for Women, the trades are no longer a boy’s club.”
– Lupe Hinojosa


CFW will provide capital, capacity building, and additional support to organizations to help them recover from the physical and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and sustain their services in the immediate aftermath. Included in this work will be to build off CFW’s previous, place-based efforts focused on women’s economic security to establish a Women’s Economic Mobility Hub in Chicago. Finally, understanding that a successful recovery is only as powerful as the individuals leading it, CFW will double down on our focus and investments in building the leadership and resilience of women of color through the Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, which includes programs like Willie’s Warriors.

As a key part of the Recovery phase, CFW will invest in a comprehensive landscape analysis to understand where organizations stand, and where the gaps in services for women and girls have emerged. CFW will harness this moment to facilitate consolidation between organizations that can lead to stronger, more effective organizations in the long term.


CFW is not interested in rebuilding to get back to pre-COVID “normal.” We are committed to being here, for the long haul, so that Chicago can rebuild upon a stronger foundation of gender and racial equity.

As we move out of the Recovery phase, CFW will work with organizations serving the needs of Chicago-area women and girls, provide them multi-year support, and closely partner with them over a period of time so they have the increased capacity to sustain themselves for the long term. CFW will also provide the ongoing coaching, capital, and technical assistance needed for organizations to merge, partner, or scale to pre-COVID levels of impact and sustainability. In addition, CFW will continue to invest and actively participate in promising advocacy efforts — using our platform to amplify the voices of the most historically disenfranchised and ignored among us.

When you look at our region’s most pressing challenges through a gender lens, you see new solutions. Over the last five years, Chicago Foundation for Women has worked with 67 agencies to bring a gender lens to our work. This means careful consideration of the unique experiences and specific needs of people based on their gender identity, and designing programs and services with them in mind, for better results. During the Resilience phase, CFW will advance equity for the region through the transformation of organizational culture and systems — so that the Chicago nonprofit sector more intentionally applies a gender lens to its work.

Join us. Make a gift to the Response, Recovery, and Resilience Fund today.