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Raising the Value of Communities by Investing in Girls of Color

Jun 20, 2024

As we navigate through this pivotal moment in history of rollbacks to civil rights, gender justice, and social progress, we are also seeing a generational transfer of wealth boosting women’s economic power and women taking bold measures to move capital into the hands of other women.

While we recognize and applaud how women are poised to shape a new type of philanthropy, it is imperative that in this effort girls —and in particular girls and gender-expansive youth of Color, receive a robust and intentional investment. These young people are at the forefront of all social justice movements, and yet their contributions go overlooked and erased. As we move funds to women-serving organizations, we must also move money explicitly to organizations that center and are led by girls of Color. That is how we can combat the erasure of Black girls and girls of Color, and create opportunities for their courageous activism and leadership to thrive.

The most marginalized are also the least resourced. Today, less than 2% of philanthropic giving, or $8.8 billion, goes to women in this country (Women’s Philanthropy Institute). That is a miniscule amount when we consider the $471 billion in charitable giving. That amount is abysmally worse for women of Color —and almost nonexistent for girls of Color. In the U.S., less than .5% of philanthropic giving goes to women and girls of Color, and around the globe a mere 0.1%-0.35% of foundation giving goes to Black women, girls and trans people.

Even in larger conversations about investing in gender justice, girls under the age of 18 continue to be overlooked. When people see the headlines about money being invested in women, the assumption is that these funds are going to trickle down to girls. But let’s not adultify girls in our philanthropic strategies. Without intentional, robust, and explicit investments in girls, the harmful structural challenges persist, and will continue to harm girls as they enter adulthood. That includes pay inequity and the enduring grip of the gender pay gap that afflicts girls and young women more, since they enter the workforce early but don’t get considered in pay equity initiatives. We recognize the leaders who understand the implications of erasing girls and young women, and who respond with resources and commitments. One example is UKG’s Close The Gap Initiative who partnered with Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) to explicitly resource organizations that center girls of Color in their larger effort to support organizations working to close the gender pay gap.

Although under-resourced, many feminist funds are organized to address and support the specific needs of communities blocked from opportunity. These funds are impactful, effective, and sophisticated in their approach to engage grantee funders and catalyze funds and investments into profound change. At G4GC, we see everyday how girls of Color are at the forefront of shaping a more just future for us all. They are leading in their schools, peer groups, homes, and communities, from contributing to their families with sibling care to financial support, balancing homework and minimum-wage roles, and also as entrepreneurs. They are advocating for just structures and challenging inequities as social justice leaders and community advocates, and they are leading the way for a more just, safe, and environmentally protected future. And yet, there is little recognition of their wisdom, leadership, contributions, and potential. There are few structures that welcome their insights, and apply their ideas.

As a significant transfer of wealth puts more economic power in the hands of women, we have a unique opportunity to engage women as champions and advocates on behalf of young people who are too often overlooked. Girls and, more explicitly, girls and gender-expansive youth of Color, must be considered essential elements of any strategy seeking to advance gender justice in our society, and our investments must reflect that.

We invite those in positions to move money to recognize the important contributions of girls in their communities and families, and how resourcing them now is an investment in a stronger future as they become adults. As efforts are in play to migrate funds to support women-led movements, let’s recognize that the transfer of wealth is largely going into trusts vs. directly to women, and even less is going to girls of Color. When we abundantly fund organizations and intermediaries focusing on girls and gender-expansive youth of Color we can ensure that distributions of resources actually reach all girls and women.

Investing in girls and young people is necessary –and not just because it is the right approach, but also because we are relying on their labor, their activism, and their impact across every aspect of our society now.

You can read the op-ed in Philanthropy Women HERE.