Unlocking Economic Opportunity for Alabama Women through the Power of Community Partners

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.Women’s Foundation of Alabama, building on its momentous statewide expansion, is set to take its community grantmaking efforts statewide through the opening of its Fall 2023 grant cycle on Friday, August 4, 2023.

For over two decades, the foundation has been a catalyst for change and an engine for women’s philanthropy in the Greater Birmingham area, granting over $8 million dollars to local community partners focused on moving women forward. In recent years, the organization has strategically expanded its power and influence both geographically, beyond the five-county radius, and programmatically, by leveraging legislative advocacy and groundbreaking research alongside its powerful philanthropy to create systemic change for women and the communities they call home.

While this is not the foundation’s first competitive grant cycle, this does mark the first time the grant cycle will be open to local, community-based organizations across Alabama, representing greater potential for even broader impact towards gender and economic equity for women in the state. Through this process, Women’s Foundation of Alabama aims to support high-impact organizations and projects working to usher women and girls along the path of greater economic opportunity and to remove the complex, interconnected barriers women face along that same path. Organizations will select one of three categories under which to apply: Women + Work, Women + Leadership, Women + Wellbeing – reflecting the foundation’s interest in holistic, innovative approaches to women’s economic opportunity.

“This is an exciting milestone for us as we extend our impact and partnerships across Alabama. These new focus areas will give us the chance to meet and partner with organizations that are aligned with our vision of equitable economic opportunity in the state,” says Zhaundra C. Jones, Women’s Foundation of Alabama Vice President of Philanthropy and Learning. “We firmly believe in the power of local, community-based organizations and the profound impact philanthropy can have on women’s lives; and with this grant cycle we are unleashing it like never before.”

Women’s funds, a specific sector of the philanthropic community, uniquely utilize the combined power of collective giving and community investment to address the most pressing gender, racial, and economic issues. Philanthropy that addresses women’s issues is essential, yet only 1.9% of all charitable contributions in the country support women and girls.

“As Alabama’s first and only philanthropic foundation solely addressing the unique needs of women and girls, Women’s Foundation of Alabama pools the resources of generous individuals, nonprofits, corporate partners, and community leaders to create a society where all women thrive,” states Brantley Fry, Member of Women’s Foundation of Alabama Board, Chairperson of the foundation’s Grants and Allocations Committee, and Southern Research Vice President of People and Community. “This extraordinary organization has been creating a ripple effect of progress for years, and with this strategic shift to statewide giving, I am confident we’ll soon see incredible waves of change toward economic equity for women in Alabama.”

During this cycle, Women’s Foundation of Alabama will accept applications within three focus areas:

  • Women + Work: The future of Alabama’s workforce depends upon inclusion and equity for women. In 2022, over 80,000 women were missing from the state’s workforce, placing Alabama dead last in labor force participation for women in the South. This doesn’t have to be Alabama’s fate. Through this focus area, the foundation plans to fund nonprofit organizations providing education, skills training, credentials, critical supports, and public policy initiatives that enable women to access quality jobs and advance along their career path.
  • Women + Leadership: Where women lead, change follows. Whether on the job, in the community, at the highest levels of power, or in the home, decades of studies show women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, and improve fairness for everyone. Through this focus area, we aim to support programs and public policy efforts that invest in the personal and professional leadership development of women and the implementation of women led solutions.
  • Women + Well-being: Success at work and personal well-being do not have to be mutually exclusive. At Women’s Foundation of Alabama, we believe good jobs and living wages are only the beginning. For this focus area, we are focused on funding programs and public policy solutions that enable women to thrive, within and beyond their career, along the eight dimensions of wellness with a focus on the following three: financial, physical, and mental wellness.

The initial phase of the grant cycle opens online on Friday, August 4 and runs through August 25, 2023. Additionally, the foundation will host an informational webinar to answer questions on the process on Tuesday, August 8 at 11 a.m. Register for the webinar here.

Please direct any additional questions you may have about Women’s Foundation of Alabama’s competitive grant cycle to community@wfalabama.org.

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