Invest in Women in the Washington DC Metro Area

by Washington Area Women's Foundation

Here at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we are still energized from the inaugural United State of Women Summit on June 14th.  What a momentous occasion! More than 5,000 people from across the country attended the inspiring day-long event, organized by the White House.  Together, participants not only celebrated how far the nation has come in the realm of gender equality, but also vowed to change the state of women for tomorrow.

This event was of special importance to The Women’s Foundation.  Along with several colleagues from respected women’s foundations across the country, our President and CEO Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat announced the launch of a national Young Women’s Initiative, which will build opportunities and close gender and race gaps for young women. Jennifer reflected on the significance of this advocacy work, stating, “It is a privilege to spark and guide philanthropic investments that will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of the Washington region’s most vulnerable women and girls. This initiative will focus specifically on women and girls of color and will put their voices, experiences, and needs front and center.”

Gaps in inequality are clearly seen here in Washington, DC metro area. While our region is home to some of the wealthiest and most educated people in the world, 1 in 4 local women and girls are living at or near the poverty line.  Equally troubling is that 16 percent of African-American women, and 14 percent of Latinas are more likely to live below the poverty threshold—compared with only 6 percent of white women.  Too many women and girls of color in our region lack access to the cornerstones of economic opportunity: affordable child care, workforce training for sustainable careers, and education about asset and wealth-building.  At The Women’s Foundation, we want to change this grim reality.

Although The Women's Foundation has always created opportunities for women and girls of color to thrive, we are now vowing to directly tackle the barriers that are creating these gaps in outcomes.  We recognize the need to intentionally talk about race, racism, and racial equity. We must increase our understanding of the unique barriers facing girls and young women of color in our community.

As a first step locally, together with our partners, we are hosting a series of listening sessions to hear what young women in our area—who are living at or near the poverty line—have to say about the reality of the barriers they face and opportunities available to them in their schools, families, and communities. These listening sessions will shape recommendations for investments in programs, policies, and research. We will connect with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, business, nonprofit and community leaders, to flesh out these recommendations into actionable plans. We will initially focus on DC, but hope to expand across the region over time.

At The Women's Foundation, we know that we have a responsibility to women and girls, and to our community, to call the question and engage in the difficult and uncomfortable conversations that others may shy away from.

Chances are you or someone you know has faced nerve-wracking financial uncertainty at some point in life. You’ve worried about how to cover bills; find quality, affordable child care; or you’ve been frustrated by barriers preventing you from advancing your career.  

This is far too common a reality in the Washington region, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  Working together, we can achieve a better future 

At Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we know that while bold visions are needed to move the needle on poverty, bold actions are long overdue.   That’s why we recently launched Together We Thrive, our five-year strategic plan for achieving consistent economic stability for all women and girls in our region. 

During the first five years of Together We Thrive, we are committed to achieving the following: 

  1.  Advocate for improved policies on behalf of women and girls.
  2. Pilot new methods of philanthropy and community engagement as a way to drive greater philanthropic change in our community.
  3. Quintuple our investments in the region’s women and girls in order to reduce the number of women and families living in poverty.
  4. Embolden the entire Washington region to collectively invest an additional $100 million.

Making this bold vision of moving the nearly 500,000 women and girls living in poverty to a place of consistent economic stabilitya reality requires the commitment of our entire community.We are excited to get to work with elected officials, business and community leaders, philanthropists, and YOU to coordinate these efforts region-wide.

We’ve wasted no time in beginning to execute this plan.

  • In December we launched donor advised funds (DAFs), which will provide us with a tool to further engage women in their philanthropy and deepen the impact we’re having in the community.
  • We are working with the White House Council on Women and Girls and other women’s foundations across the country to craft a strategy focused on women and girls of color. In the coming months, we’ll be engaging in a series of listening sessions to hear directly from women and girls of color.
  • We are leading systems change work on child care in the region by funding, facilitating, and convening a new Washington Region Early Care & Education Workforce Network. This network will be mapping competency-based career pathways that are linked to quality and compensation and can be used across the region. As a result of this work, our region is one of five states participating in a national network convened by the National Academy of Medicine to receive training and technical assistance as we craft our regional plan.

Join us in encouraging the growth of a model community and changing our region’s future. Read the entire plan, “Together We Thrive: Opening Doors to Prosperity for All Women and Girls in the DC Region” here. 

Washington Area Women's Foundation recently released a groundbreaking issue brief on women's philanthropy in the Washington region.  By combining first-hand experiences of philanthropists with a critical examination of regional and national data through a gender lens, we have found that turning the corner on poverty for women and girls within our region is within our grasp.

"I've experienced personally - and I think studies support this - that if you empower women, you will save the world, so that's why I like to give to women..."   -Lorena, Philanthropist in the Washington region

By our estimates, if every woman in our region with a net worth of $5 million or more contributed 0.1% of their wealth to programs tailored to the unique needs of women and girls, they could collectively invest at least $45 million - enough to have a significant impact on helping the nearly half-million women and girls living below or near poverty in our region attain economic security.

"Women never had money to give...Now we have wonderful women who are working hard and doing good jobs and getting paid a lot of money, and they need to know how to give." - Tamicka, Philanthropist in the Washington region

A rough estimation of woman's net worth in the Washington region is over $253 billion.  With this vast amount of resources, women have the potential to significantly grow philanthropy.  In fact, research shows that women proportionately donate more of their own wealth to benefit communities than men.  On average, high net worth women give close to four percent of their total net worth each year, which is twice as much as the two percent men give.

"I'm a big believer in outcomes and results.  I'm just a big believer in putting money where things are working best." - Eleanor, Philanthropist in the Washington region

The biggest challenge facing our community is not a lack of strategies to address the needs of the region's most economically vulnerable residents, but a lack of resources.  The complexity of poverty is overwhelming, but we have the expertise needed to do something about it, especially if we tap into the incredible giving power of women in our region. 

Join us and become a philanthropist with the unprecedented power and potential to change our community!

Why Give?
Why Give?


Elaine at the 2015 Leadership Luncheon
Elaine at the 2015 Leadership Luncheon

Washington Area Women's Foundation recently held their annual Leadership Luncheon on October 15, 2015. This event drew over 1,000 of the Washington area's best and brightest from the nonprofit, corporate, public, and academic sectors. The highlight of this amazing event celebrating women and girls and the people who work for their future every day?


Elaine graduated from the Academy of Hope, a Washington Area Women's Foundation grantee partner, with her GED at the age of 62.  After dropping out of school in the 9th grade and working for 37 years in the government, Elaine made it a priority to go back to school and receive the diploma that she never had. Why? "I felt like there was something missing in my life that I needed to get."

With a high school diploma, workers can earn 82% more than those who did not complete high school.

Everyday, women just like Elaine are supported by grants from The Women's Foundation as they pursue secondary and postsecondary education to develop their position in the workforce and provide a stronger basis of economic security for themselves and their family. 

Watch Elaine and other recipients of The Women's Foundation's grants speak here about their hopes for the future.

Now that she has her GED, what are Elaine's plans for her future? She wants to go to music school and, as she shared with our Luncheon audience, hit the high notes!  Her rendition of "All is Well with my Soul" brought the house to a standing ovation - for her courage, for her inspiration to other women to pursue their dreams, and for all the women who are working toward a better and brighter future for themselves and their families.

Donate to The Women's Foundation today to support women like Elaine and ensure that all women and girls have the support and tools they need for economic security and a brighter tomorrow.

Join us to be Here. Now. For Her Future.


Training Futures Graduation Celebration
Training Futures Graduation Celebration

Because of dedicated supporters like you, there is a brighter future for women like Lidia V.

Lidia, a single mother and graduate of the Washington Area Women's Foundation supported Training Futures program at Northern Virginia Family Service, found the program while pursuing her GED. Prior to enrolling, Lidia said she was constantly thinking, “I’ll get my GED, but then what?” Training Futures helped her answer that question by showing her that it was possible to go from working two jobs on nights and weekends to securing a full-time position with benefits and regular business hours.

In 2014, after completing a three-week internship with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, Lidia was offered a full-time position as an executive assistant. Since then, she’s impressed her employers, received a raise, and is now able to spend more time at home raising her 9-year-old son. She acknowledges that without the support of Training Futures and Washington Area Women’s Foundation she would never have been able to imagine achieving all of these things.

Your support and donations provide critical services like job training for economically vulnerable women in the Washington region and helps them work towards a brighter future for themselves and their children.

But the most rewarding experience Lidia says thus far has been the opportunity to help change other people’s lives by introducing them to Training Futures. She says, “I couldn’t be more blessed. I don’t even have the words to describe Training Future’s impact on my life. Where I work, I have the ability to speak to a lot of people who could benefit from the program and I tell everyone I can about it.”

At Washington Area Women’s Foundation, we invest in pathways out of poverty for women and girls, including job training and post-secondary education opportunities that provide access to careers that offer benefits and pay family-sustaining wages. The Foundation first started supporting Northern Virginia Family Service’s Training Futures program through Stepping Stones in 2005. Training Futures provides the training and skills that help under-employed and unemployed women in Northern Virginia secure a rewarding career.

When it comes to helping women build their economic security and earnings potential, Training Futures is one of the nation’s most effective workforce development programs. More than 90 percent of all participants who enroll in the program graduate, and 80 percent of all Training Futures graduates find administrative jobs with benefits paying an average of $12.50 per hour within a year after completing the program. With your support, Washington Area Women's Foundation can continue identifying and resourcing high-performing programs like Training Futures that are changing the lives of women and their families in the Washington region.  

Lidia V.
Lidia V.



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Organization Information

Washington Area Women's Foundation

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Erica Shockley
Development Associate
Washington, DC United States

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