The Women’s Catalytic Fund (WCF) is a giving circle that believes in the power of women to drive social change. The circle has been active for 13 years and granted over $1.5 million to non-profit organizations in the Bay Area and California. In 2017, the circle moved its ‘home’ to EBCF.
In the past, the circle conducted an annual grant-making process. However, members recognized that women’s movements need the ability to respond to threats and opportunities with more flexible and responsive funding. This drove the circle to shift to shorter, more frequent grantmaking in 2019 in order to put resources into the hands of women more quickly.
Through its catalytic giving, the WCF is prepared to take risks, respond rapidly, and give directly to frontline organizers working to end gender-based inequity early, when resources are most needed. Typically, these are one-time $15,000 grants to ensure financial resources are not a barrier to action.
WCF received a total of 66 proposals in response to our Winter 2019 Request for Proposals. The proposed projects and initiatives spanned a wide range of topics from advocacy and leadership, to education and research. We were impressed with the many different ideas represented among the proposals. Ultimately, WCF selected four projects:
Contra Costa Family Just Alliance: Community Restorative Justice Circles.
In this pilot project, four women of color will be trained in restorative justice principles and practices so each can design and complete a restorative justice circle in their community. This is the first time that nonprofessionals will lead restorative justice circles.
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative: Building Nail Salon Worker Power in California.
This grant will fund a statewide organizing campaign for nail-salon workers’ rights, including the first nail-salon worker gathering to bring 25-30 California member leaders to build relationships and leadership skills, deepen political analysis, and create collective goals towards a statewide nail-salon worker movement.
This organization uses California’s existing legal apprenticeship program to create a formal, no-cost pipeline for low-income people of color, particularly youth and women, to gain entry to, and reimagine, the legal profession. Already, Esq. Apprentice is helping to drive tangible improvements (e.g., increased wages) in the lives of the women in the program.
Mamacitas Café: System Involved Young WOC/TGNC Thrive Incubator.
Mamacitas Café will host a series of movement-building conversations with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, system-involved youth, and other stakeholders to deepen relationships and envision how to build an incubator and pipeline of leadership for system-involved girls, women and TBNC/non-binary youth of color in Oakland.