Young Women's Giving Council

Who We Are:

Young Women’s Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women is a diverse community of young professionals who are committed to supporting young women and girls through philanthropic efforts. To support our philanthropy we utilize our strength as a network of young women to fundraise for the purpose of grantmaking. In addition, we develop the potential of women as leaders and philanthropists, empowering them through educational programming, leadership opportunities, and professional development.

The Giving Council is an extension of the work of Chicago Foundation for Women. CFW improves the lives of women and girls through grants, advocacy, leadership development, and public and grantee education. Since 1985, CFW has given more than 3,200 grants totaling over $26 million, and guided thousands of women and girls into becoming philanthropists.

Who We Help:

The impact of our work is strong! We have granted over $170,000 to 15 organizations since 2008. In June 2016 we awarded grants to Brave Camps and Demoiselle 2 Femme. 

Grantee Spotlight: Polished Pebbles

The Young Women’s Giving Council provided a grant of $6,000 to Polished Pebbles in 2014.

Founder Kelly Fair wanted to open doors for young women from the hardscrabble neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. “We can all have an impact on young people. We just need to activate that capacity,” said Fair.  And activate she did. Since 2009 Polished Pebbles has paired nearly 1,000 girls with about 400 mentors and volunteers.

Fair’s mission, as well as her approach, struck a chord with Dawn Reese, former co-chair of the Young Women’s Giving Council.

"Young minority women find it difficult gaining access to professional mentors. Seasoned guidance can be the difference between healthy decisions and ones that might result in unforgiving career setbacks. Polished Pebbles serves as facilitator to introduce and cultivate relationships.”

The Young Women’s Giving Council understands the importance of organizations like these and strives to foster impactful relationships for our community. Our job is to identify organizations making a difference and support them to the extent that we can. – Dawn Reese, former Co-Chair


How It Works:

We invite you to participate in effective philanthropy: philanthropy inspired by a commitment to create positive change for young women and girls. We invite you to make a difference in collaboration with those who share your connection to these communities!

Member Benefits

  • Amplify your giving by leveraging your dollars with those of other members.
  • Give voice to the issues effecting the women and girls in your community by deciding with your peers on the Council which programs to fund.
  • See the impact of your giving as funded programs share with membership accomplishments that were made possible by the Council’s grants.
  • Develop new personal and professional relationships with women from your community while learning about others.
  • Learn from trainings, workshops and conversations on philanthropy, women in philanthropy, issues and needs of women, how organizations are serving women, and trends and gaps in funding.

Member Responsibilities

  • Make an annual contribution, choosing from a variety of options to make payments affordable.
  • Participate in group and individual fundraising. This may include soliciting donors, sponsors, and in-kind contributions, serving on an events committee, or recruiting members.
  • Participate in the Giving Council grantmaking process, a cooperative effort to select the recipients of grants. This may include identifying organizations and programs to fund, reviewing proposals, conducting site visits, and voting on grant recommendations.
  • Provide good stewardship and thought partnership to the Council with your active and positive participation. This may include attending meetings, or contributing to discussions about fundraising and grantmaking.

Connect Chicago Foundation for Women with organizations and stakeholders doing work on behalf of young women and girls in the Chicago region.

2016-2017 Council Co-Chairs
Victoria Celano
Monica George
Christina John 
Andrea McPike

2016-2017 Meetings

Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month from 6:00p.m. – 7:30p.m. at Chicago Foundation for Women, 140 S. Dearborn Suite 400, unless noted.

November 9, 2016
December 13, 2016
January 10, 2017
February 14, 2017 
March 14, 2017
April 11, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017

Why Giving Councils?

Giving Councils link grassroots organizations to funding and the Foundation to new issues, new leaders, and new ideas.

Through its giving councils, Chicago Foundation for Women aims to:

  • Exercise the power of giving individually and collectively to create an understanding of philanthropy within different cultures;
  • Establish unique funds to provide additional support to the communities represented by the Councils (proceeds generated through fundraising efforts by the Councils go toward these special funds);
  • Educate the public and take action on unique issues facing diverse communities in the Foundation’s areas of interest (economic security, freedom from violence, and access to health services and information);
  • Increase awareness about the Foundation’s work within diverse communities;
  • Provide leadership opportunities, and;
  • Amplify the voice of underrepresented women as philanthropists through democratic philanthropy.


For more information about the Giving Council, contact Eli Marsh at (312) 577-2825 or