Washington Area Women's Foundation

Washington Area Women's Foundation is a results-oriented, creative catalyst for social change. We believe in the promise and value of every women and girl in the Washington area. We know that we we achieve our full potential, our entire region benefits. We envision the Washington metro area as a model community where every women and girl is on the path to prosperity. That is why we are using our deep insight into the needs of women and girls to collect, direct, and leverage resources to three core areas: financial education and wealth creation, jobs with benefits, career pathways and family sustaining wages; and high-quality early care and education. By supporting the most effective organiza...
Feb 25, 2014

New Year's Message from the President

Here at The Women’s Foundation, we have hit the ground running and are looking forward to an exciting 2014. With much of a brand new year ahead, I want to share a few of my top priorities:

  1.        Catalyzing Investment:  We will continue to deepen both our impact and reach.  In addition to growing our important Stepping Stones investments supporting low-income women in our region, we are working to catalyze new strategic partnerships in our community that will result in targeted programming and support for middle school girls and their mothers, simultaneously.
  2.        Developing a Policy Agenda:  In partnership with the California Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, and the Chicago Foundation for Women, we are undertaking research to identify the key components of both a local and national women’s economic security agenda that women’s foundations can play a role in elevating.
  3.        Engaging our Stakeholders:  We will continue to find ways to engage you in our work, including providing you with opportunities to lend your voice to our efforts and to deepen your connection with the Foundation and the region.
  4.        Expanding our Resources: We have seen amazing results from our work but must continue to mobilize our community to build the human, social, political and financial capital needed to create the kind of transformation we all believe needs to happen.

We have an opportunity to build the momentum and national messaging generated by The Shriver Report, which emphasizes why we must make investing in low-income women and girls a priority. You -- your presence, voice and support -- are critical to our efforts to transform the lives of women and girls, and the Washington region. I hope that you’ll stand with us in 2014.

Nicky Goren

Dec 4, 2013

Long-term support transforms families and communities

When Elijah was a baby, he and his mother Tia lived with his grandmother. Tia was grateful to have a place to stay, but knew it was only a temporary solution. Elijah was growing fast and there wasn’t room for an active child to play and explore. With rents in the District growing as quickly as her son, and most of her income going to child care, Tia was scrambling to provide a safe and secure future. And then she made a big, bold decision: she was going to buy a home. It took her several years – but she did it. And you helped make it possible.

Your previous gifts to Washington Area Women’s Foundation were invested in programs like the Homebuyers Club, which helps low-income families like Tia’s buy homes through peer support, professional guidance and financial education. Your support transforms families and our entire community.


Tia’s story might sound familiar – she shared her experience at the 2006 Leadership Luncheon. That day, she told the audience how impossible becoming a homeowner seemed – at first.

"I used to think that because I was a single mom it would be too hard for me to buy a house,” she said. “I thought that I didn’t earn enough money and that my childcare expenses would stop me.”

In making the bold decision to move from being a renter to a homeowner, Tia took the first step on the path to financial stability for her and her son. I’m revisiting Tia’s story, because I want you to know that your donations are long-term investments in women and in the Washington region. I’m happy to tell you that seven years after she first shared her story, Tia and Elijah remain in their home, and that buying her home changed the course of her life and that of her son’s.

Elijah is in the fourth grade now. He and Tia’s favorite thing to do is hang out in their living room, playing games and watching movies. They have the stability and security that comes with being in the same house and neighborhood for years, and are important members of their community. And Tia is working to help more families follow in their footsteps. She now volunteers at the Homebuyers Club. She provides childcare for other mothers just starting on the path she took nearly a decade ago – but maybe more importantly, she helps them believe it’s a path they dare to walk down.

“There’s nothing greater than feeling like you can provide for your kids,” she says. “Being a homeowner is a struggle sometimes. But I have the security of knowing I still have a roof over my head. I always have shelter. I always have the security of home.”

Over the past 15 years, supporters like you have made it possible for low-income women and girls to find security through new and better jobs, access to affordable, high-quality early education, and increasing assets. With these targeted investments, we can work together to end poverty in our community. But it’s going to take big, bold action. When change seemed impossible, Tia had the courage to make a bold move. 


Nicky Goren

Sep 4, 2013

New Case Study Makes Recommendations for Improving Job Training for Low-Income Women

Earlier this summer, Washington Area Women’s Foundation released a case study that details effective approaches for helping low-income women overcome persistent barriers in workforce development programs and employment in nontraditional sectors: “Lessons Learned & Recommendations for the Field: A Case Study of Nontraditional Job Training Programs for Women.” The study was funded by the Public Welfare Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The findings of the case study are based on grants The Women’s Foundation awarded over a six year period to DC-area nonprofits for nontraditional job training programs. The Grantee Partners highlighted in the case study are: CASA de Maryland, Goodwill of Greater Washington, Urban Alliance, Year Up National Capital Region and YWCA of the National Capital Area.

According to the US Department of Labor, nontraditional jobs for women are defined as occupations in which women comprise less than 25 percent of all workers. Examples of these jobs include construction and building trades, engineering, and transportation, and encompass technical, scientific, and labor-intensive work. The case study points out that nontraditional jobs typically pay more than those traditionally classified as “female jobs” – often 20 to 30 percent more – and are more likely to offer career pathways and benefits.

“We explored nontraditional jobs specifically because our research and experience have shown that occupations with higher wages, progressive career pathways and benefits like health care go a long way in helping women, particularly single women who are head of household, achieve and maintain economic security,” said Nicky Goren, president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation. “This is not only about finding jobs for women. It’s about preparing them to excel in careers with family-sustaining wages that will enable them to put themselves and their families on paths to prosperity.”

The case study highlights the categorical and systemic barriers that low-income women often face, including level of educational attainment, work supports, transportation costs, access to affordable child care and discrimination. These barriers are present in many occupations but are often more intense in nontraditional jobs.

The report also makes recommendations that include: more comprehensive case management and support services; greater focus on retention and career advancement services; addressing basic skills and post-secondary education needs; and building partnerships with community colleges and employers.

“Our hope is that policy makers, nonprofits, employers and funders use the case study as they create innovative strategies that will break down barriers and open up good jobs to women,” said Goren. “One in five women in DC lives in poverty and many are supporting children. By opening up these opportunities to them, we can help ensure that women and their families thrive and we can move closer to ending poverty in our community.”

A copy of the case study is available on The Women’s Foundation’s website

Workforce development and jobs with benefits, career pathways, and family-sustaining wages is just one of the three areas of the Stepping Stones Initiative. With your continued support, we will mobilize our community to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they need to thrive. 


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