In a time of economic uncertainty worldwide, Buffalo receives some much needed good news about an exciting new initiative coming to our city. With a prestigious grant from the Women’s Funding Network, our own WNY Women’s Foundation is launching a new project with the potential to support women all over the country.
With more than 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning six continents, Women’s Funding Network is the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls. The Women’s Funding Network accelerates women’s leadership and invests in solving critical social issues—from economic security to reproductive health and justice—by bringing together the financial power, influence and voices of women’s funds.
Today, the WNY Women’s Foundation announced that Buffalo has been selected by the national Women’s Funding Network as the location for a new regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hub. These hubs will increase support and resources necessary to advance economic mobility among women and girls in communities across the United States.
Founded in 1999, the WNY Women’s Foundation is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization whose mission is to create a culture of possibility so each woman and girl can live, grow, and lead to her fullest potential. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the WNY Women’s Foundation has been working nonstop to support women in our community: women make up 52% of all essential workers and are disproportionately impacted by a crisis of this scale.
The Western New York Hub, led by WNY Women’s Foundation, will build from effective strategies incorporated in its MOMs: From Education to Employment® program, which currently operates at seven community college campuses regionally. This data-driven program has received state and national attention.
“While the MOMs program successfully leads to family-sustaining jobs for many women, for others, a college education is not the right fit and is too burdensome while raising children. A workforce development model has the potential to benefit even more women and their families,” said WNY Women’s Foundation Executive Director Sheri Scavone. “The new Women’s Regional Economic Mobility Hub will convene partners from community support services and various collaborations to further the support for women and their families.”
The Women’s Economic Mobility Hub will include partnership with two respected nonprofits on the east side of the city, Harvest House and Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT). At BCAT alone, 72% of students are African-American, 95% are female, and 55% have children while almost all of Harvest House’s students are single mothers living with incomes below the federal poverty level.
“This strategic collaboration among our organizations will provide practical and flexible choices for women in the community who are committed to finding new career pathways for themselves and their families,” said Gina Burkhardt, BCAT CEO.
The project is being launched at a pivotal time when economic mobility is essential to surviving the financial uncertainties resulting from the COVID crisis. The cohort includes Chicago Foundation for Women, Maine Women’s Fund, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Arkansas Women’s Fund, Iowa Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Women’s Foundation of Colorado, WNY Women’s Foundation, and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
“Women’s foundations have a long history of addressing women’s economic security and mobility within their communities. This project multiplies each organization’s individual impact, while increasing our Network’s intelligence by facilitating multi-year, multi-foundation collaborations across the United States,” said Women’s Funding Network President and CEO Elizabeth Barajas-Román. “This work is critical now, more than ever because of the economic devastation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The gender lens approach that women’s foundations apply to poverty alleviation and economic security is effective because of its grasp on the drivers of complex systems.”
The Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs will create local environments that identify and connect community assets toward market demands that will build lasting livelihoods for women and their families. Hubs will focus on the critical range of social, economic, health, and environmental conditions necessary for women to thrive within their regional ecosystems. The newly-announced cohort will go through a learning and organizing process, with an aim to launch their Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs in October 2020.
There is more information about the Women’s Funding Network’s Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs available at https://www.
For more information on the work of Women’s Funding Network and its members, please visit www.womensfundingnetwork.org or connect with us on Twitter @womensfunding and on Facebook at facebook.com/