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    Why is NoVo supporting work with girls of color in the U.S.?

    • The NoVo Foundation has always included a strong focus on adolescent girls, going back to our inception in 2006. We are a social justice foundation, with a deep commitment to addressing the structural barriers that perpetuate inequality, so it was absolutely clear from the beginning that we needed to focus on girls.
    • Much of our work focused on adolescent girls has been concentrated in the Global South, and that work is essential to our mission and is continuing. But the need for expanding this work is great here at home.
    • After more than a decade of partnership with incredible organizations working directly with and advocating on behalf of girls of color across the country, we knew we wanted to do more — and the needs could not be more urgent. We began more intentionally deepening this work with exploratory grantmaking and the launch of an initial strategy in 2014. In March of 2016, we announced a seven-year, $90 million commitment to substantially deepen this work across the country.
    • Since then, we’ve spent the last year meeting and listening to girls, movement leaders, and organizers of all ages from around the country who have built, and continue to strengthen, a movement that centers girls of color here in the U.S.
    • We were inspired by their vision and commitment, and their work to build power with and for girls of color so they can live free from all forms of violence, dream and imagine all possibilities for their future, have access to all the resources to help make those dreams a reality, and feel celebrated through love and connection.

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    What is the strategy that guides your U.S. work?

    • During our listening sessions across the country, it became apparent that the movement for girls of color in the U.S. is being led by fearless women, primarily women of color, often working on their own time and dime in a severely under-funded field. Driven by their own personal commitment, many are pulling from their own resources to support the girls in their communities.
    • We also learned that there are activists working to center girls in broader social justice movements, racial justice, policing, immigration, islamophobia and they also represent the work to build a movement for girls of color.
    • Our first priority is to honor and support this courageous, community-based work led by girls and women of color. We’ll also support regional infrastructure that can advance power building so that funders of all kinds can better support this work over the long term, and we will invest in select national efforts that center girls in changing systems that harm them. Through this three-part new strategy, we will:
      • Provide flexible funding to community-based organizers and organizations working directly with girls to build sisterhood and connection and those addressing the structural barriers facing girls of color by centering them in broader movements that impact them locally. To ensure we are open and responsive to efforts we’ve yet to learn about, we will accept letters of inquiry from across the country.
      • Partner with regional grantmaking and movement building infrastructures, starting with the Southeast. In addition to prioritizing community-based organizations across the country, NoVo has issued an RFP to identify a regional partner to work with on grantmaking and capacity building, starting in the Southeast. The regional partner will house efforts that provide grantmaking to existing organizations and help seed new organizations, with the goal of eventually also supporting individuals and collectives outside of formal c3 structures. In addition to grantmaking the regional partner will provide the healing, political education and organizing capacity needed to sustain a healthy field.
      • Support national organizations that may not work directly with girls but do critical work to center girls of color in the advocacy, base-building, and narrative shaping needed to transform the systems and structural barriers that are most harmful to girls.

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    What work will you support?

    • As with all areas of our work, we turned to trusted partners and those most impacted by the injustices we want to address to help guide our priorities. In our listening tour, we had the immense privilege to learn from girls of color about the structural barriers they face, how those barriers impact their daily lives, and the incredible work happening at the community level to address these barriers. We also identified some areas of work that some funders avoid such as ending sexual violence and confronting anti-black racism. Our hope is to continue identifying opportunities to partner with and support girls, activists, and organizations doing critical, culture changing work on these often neglected issues.
    • Based on what we learned from partners about the critical work necessary to achieve this vision, we will support movement-building efforts with and for girls that include:
      • Direct work with girls of color at the local and grassroots level that creates space for connection and healing and/or spaces for consciousness raising and where their leadership is supported; and/or
      • Work that responds to the structural harms and systemic barriers girls of color face through organizing, advocacy, base-building, and narrative-shaping efforts that are national and local in scope.
    • Though we are not focused on specific sectors or issues areas, during our listening sessions we identified a number of key areas to support because of their critical importance in the lives of girls of color and the lack of investment by philanthropy:
      • Ending Sexual Violence: Support survivors and advocates in their efforts to build and strengthen movements working to shift culture, raise visibility and advocate for survivors, and end violence against girls.
      • Ending Anti-Black Racism: Partner with activists and organizations working to dismantle anti-black racism and the racialized and gendered impact it has in the lives of girls as a part of a larger struggle to dismantle patriarchy and white supremacy.
      • Building Solidarity Across Communities: Identify opportunities to support efforts that intentionally build solidarity across communities through healing, relationship building, and visioning.
      • Supporting Intergenerational Leadership: Support opportunities for community building, visioning, and healing across generations of girls and women of color.
      • Resourcing and Supporting Girl-Driven Ideas and Projects: Provide opportunities to support the brilliant ideas girls of color have now.
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    Why are you opening an RFP specifically for the Southeast region of the country?

    • Across all of our work, we believe it is essential to focus on those who are hardest to reach, since that is the only way to ensure that fundamental, structural change can occur. The Southeast has been neglected by philanthropy, especially when it comes to the work of supporting girls, activists, and community-based organizations advocating on behalf of girls of color.
    • The regions history of oppression is still evident today and this stands true in the particular forms of oppression faced by girls of color.
    • At the very same time, the Southeast has a vibrant history of organizing and movement-building that deserves the support of the philanthropic community. There is both tremendous need and tremendous opportunity for funders to support efforts across the region that center girls of color.
    • In this political moment we find ourselves in, there is a lot to learn from women of color in the region about how to organize and build movements in the face of oppressive elected leadership. We also hope this is an opportunity for us to learn from their example.

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    What states are you focusing on in the Southeast?

    • Guided by input from our partners, we are focusing on the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. We know that defining regions is complicated for many reasons. Our goal is to work with local leaders to do what makes most sense for the movement building needs of the Southeast.
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    Why are you prioritizing community-based organizations?

    • Lasting change always happens from the community level up, not from the top down. As a core value, NoVo deeply respects lived experience. We center the leadership of people who live every day with injustice because they are the single most powerful way to create transformative change. We believe that the best solutions to community challenges come from within those communities, and we support social movements that build the power of people to create lasting change.
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    How are you defining community-based?

    • We define a community-based organization as one that has deep local roots, is anchored in local relationships, and that allows for all partners from activists, to advocates, to the girls themselves to have a voice in the direction and goals of the organization.
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    Do national organizations that work directly with girls qualify for funding?

    • National organizations that center the voices and needs of girls of color play a critical role in shifting systems and shaping narratives across the country. While support to local organizations will be prioritized for work directly with girls, NoVo will continue to work with our critical national partners that center girls of color in the necessary advocacy, narrative shaping, and base-building work that is happening to transform the systems that currently harm girls.
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    Why specifically adolescent girls of color and how are you defining this population?

    • Adolescent girls face particular vulnerabilities because of their age and gender, and where this positions them in society.
    • Add this to compounding layers of oppression based on other social identities such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, and immigration status and we see girls being even further marginalized by the systems around them and having the least access to power.
    • We also see them as incredibly powerful forces of change in their lives, families and communities.
    • However, adolescent girls often fall through the cracks of services and organizations. They are not seen as children so are often missed in programming designed for children and, despite often having adult responsibilities, do not have the rights of adults and are missed in programs designed for adult women.
    • NoVo focuses on cis and trans adolescent girls of color and gender non-conforming youth who experience gender-based structural oppression. We recognize that trans girls and gender non-conforming youth can have needs that both overlap with those of cis girls and those which are unique, and we will work to identify opportunities and support movements that center their specific power and vulnerability.
    • NoVo focuses on cis and trans adolescent girls of color as well as those who do not feel seen within the binary of “girl” but are experiencing structural harm.
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    What does it mean to “center” girls?

    • “Centering girls” means starting with the belief that girls hold immense power and vulnerability and that we must elevate their voices and respond to the specific ways that they face structural inequities.
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    How will you define success in this work? What do you hope to accomplish?

    • Over the long term, the NoVo Foundation is working to build a world where every girl is safe, seen and celebrated. That means removing all of the deep-seated barriers, from violence to discrimination, that stand in her way.
    • Girls of color in the U.S. face unique and deep-seated disparities that prevent them from realizing their potential—and fully participating in our future.
    • Together, our partners will work, for example, to reduce and remove barriers to:
      • Education (Black girls are 6x more likely to be suspended than white girls)
      • Safety (Indigenous girls are 2.5x more likely to be sexually assaulted; and almost half never finish high school)
      • Economic Security (64% of Latina girls live near or below poverty)
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    How are you balancing this initiative with NoVo’s other funding priorities for adolescent girls around the world?

    • We will continue to deepen and grow our work with and for adolescent girls in the Global South alongside this work in the United States. Over the long term, all of these efforts will help to deepen a transnational movement to address the challenges faced by girls throughout the world.