2022: Setting Audacious Goals, Choosing to Lead

The Community Fund for Women in Girls - 2022 Year in Review

Collaboration of Minority Women Professionals at the first annual "Queens of the Green" golf tournament in 2021. CMWP is one of nine organizations in the Girls of Color Mentoring Network. Photo: Linkz Media

The Community Fund for Women & Girls was created when women in Greater New Haven chose to lead. They joined together, knowing that collectively their voices and their gifts could help change the lives of women and girls. Over nearly 30 years, the Fund has seen the change that happens when women – longtime activists and community leaders as well as girls and women just discovering their voices – gather together to try to solve problems. They talk and listen to one another. Then they dig in and get going.

In 2022, in the face of a faltering economy, glaring racial and gender inequities, a continuing pandemic and changes in laws on reproductive rights, that’s what the Fund continued to do. After commissioning and co-funding a study in 2021 which found that unemployment claims by women surpassed those of men for the first time in state history, that just six percent of families of color could afford high-quality daycare, and that homelessness affected Black and Hispanic households headed by women disproportionately, the Fund worked to find new ways to upend those stark findings. It created the 2022 Pathways to Economic Success for Women grants, making the largest collective award in its history – nearly $200,000 – with grants to 11 Greater New Haven nonprofits. The Fund’s advisory board had deep conversations with policy makers, nonprofit and community leaders, discussing the ways signature grants could be used to make larger, more systemic changes in racial and gender inequities.

The Fund also supports programs that build leaders among immigrant and refugee women. Participants in the fellowship program at Havenly (one of the Pathways grant recipients) created the Sisters in Diaspora, an organizing group in which women learn about work and housing rights and fight for fair and affordable housing.

From the Fund’s inception, it has also seen the power of mentorship. In 2021, the Fund reached out to leaders of mentoring organizations that serve girls of color, and with nine of the organizations formed a collective. This year, they found that while there was a great deal of mentor support for girls in middle and high school, that really dropped off for women of color ages 18-25. The Girls of Color Mentoring Network is working to change that.

As changes in laws continued to unfold in the area of reproductive rights, the Fund gathered experts and most recently held an online conversation, “Reproductive Rights: Access and Advocacy” on the current state of reproductive rights in Connecticut and beyond.

What awes advisory board vice chair Christine Kim most about the Fund is the way those involved never stop asking how life could be made better and more equitable for women and girls. “It’s very inspiring,” she says. “To see that kind of deep thought on getting into the roots of the problems that women and girls face in our area — and seeking solutions to those problems.”

This story was part of the Winter 2022 edition of the Community Fund for Women & Girls' newsletter.