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The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio Launches Enduring Progress Initiative

Zora’s House will receive The Women’s Fund’s largest investment ever

Columbus, OHIO – Marking its 20th anniversary, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is launching Enduring Progress, a groundbreaking initiative that will target the woefully inadequate funding devoted to breaking down systemic barriers and creating meaningful social change. The Enduring Progress Initiative will initially prioritize investments in organizations run by and for women and girls of color.

According to the Ms. Foundation, less than half of one percent of philanthropic funding is directed to programs by and for women and girls of color, and in Ohio, programs for women and girls of color are even more under-resourced. Through the Enduring Progress Initiative, The Women’s Fund is committed to funding women, especially women of color, who know what their communities need to overcome barriers and build more equitable systems.

Two decades ago, The Women’s Fund founders envisioned a future where gender equity was the norm. As The Women’s Fund prepares to mark its 20th anniversary milestone amid a global pandemic and overdue racial reckoning, there is urgency for bold action and courageous capital.

Seeded by initial investments from Crane Group, Kaiser Consulting, and The Women’s Fund’s own endowment, the Enduring Progress Initiative will grow capital to meet critical funding gaps propagated by systemic sexism and racism.

“As we envision our second generation of impact, The Women’s Fund fully embraces its place as a funder who fills the massive gaps left by traditional philanthropic models that ignore the lived experiences of women and very particularly women of color,” said Kelley Griesmer, President and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. “We are extremely grateful for the significant investments made by Crane Group and Kaiser Consulting that will allow us to take bold steps immediately as we continue to build this funding movement for the future.”

“This is the first time in our 20-year history that we’ve made a withdrawal from our endowment. We believe the urgency of this moment requires us to put those funds to work” explained Heather Whaling, chair of The Women’s Fund Board of Directors. “We have a clear message for women of color: We see you, we believe in you, and most importantly, we are committed to funding you and your critical work.”

The first investment from The Enduring Progress Initiative will be The Women’s Fund’s largest standalone investment ever. They’ve awarded $50,000 to Zora’s House, a nonprofit led by LC Johnson, a visionary Black leader and social entrepreneur. One of very few nonprofits created, led, and shaped by women of color, Zora’s House disrupts the status quo by catalyzing grassroots-led programming and support for women of color who are daring to dream, create, and lead, while navigating intersecting forms of oppression in their workplaces, families, politics, and social spaces.

“As a Black woman, doing work that centers Black women, femmes, and other women of color, I’ve come across many funders who are used to funding Black women’s survival. Food pantries. Housing Insecurity. Poverty alleviation. These things are necessary and important. But when I start talking about Black women’s dreams – their leadership, joy, creativity, and activism – it turns out that not many funders are willing to invest in Black women’s thriving, not just surviving. That’s what makes this investment from The Women’s Fund so groundbreaking and transformative,” said LC Johnson, founder and CEO of Zora’s House.

The Women’s Fund is actively raising additional funds for the Enduring Progress Initiative, which will continue to focus on making bold investments that overcome gender and racial barriers and establish equity. Contact Kelsie Fields at kfields@womensfundcentralohio.org for investment opportunities.

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The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is a public foundation whose mission is to transform the lives of women and girls by mobilizing the collective power and passion of all people working together. The Women’s Fund creates social change through research, advocacy and investments focused on removing systemic barriers and sustaining equity.