NoVo in the Media

NoVo Announces Major New Effort in U.S. Southeast to Support Women and Girls of Color

13 April 2017
BY Kiersten Marek
PUBLISHED IN Philanthropy Women

Big News: The NoVo Foundation has narrowed down the scope of its focus for its $90 million in funding to empower girls of color, and the funder is now seeking regional partners to provide support to community agencies doing work for gender equality. NoVo is currently opening up RFP applications for community-based organizations in the U.S. Southeast to get grants for helping girls of color.

This decision was based on the outcome of a year-long listening tour across the country with girls of color, movement leaders, and organizers. During that time, NoVo employed its strategy of getting feedback and solutions directly “defined and driven by girls and women of color” in order to maximize impact for this population.

Girls of color continue to face deep systemic, societal, and institutional challenges girls face, and the situation is particularly pronounced in the U.S. Southeast, which has been historically neglected by philanthropy, especially when it comes to the work of girls of color. Though 40 percent of girls of color live in the South, less than 1 percent of foundation funding went specifically to programs focused on Black women and girls.

This investment also comes along at an important time when civil society organizations like women’s funds may need extra support, given that the current administration plans to further cut discretionary social spending. Places like the U.S. Southeast will be particularly hurt by these cuts, and will need the added support of private philanthropy.

“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,” said Tynesha McHarris, Fellow for NoVo’s Advancing Adolescent Girls’ Rights initiative. “Girls of color and their advocates have powerful visions for how to create meaningful change in their communities, this country, and the world.”

More of these visions are about to become realities, thanks to the NoVo Foundation making this work a priority. “NoVo will deeply invest in community-based organizations that center girls of color as agents in their own decision-making and create spaces for connection, healing, and consciousness-raising with and for girls of color,” said a press release announcing the new opening for RFP’s.

Along with emphasizing grantmaking in the U.S. Southeast, NoVo is also opening grantmaking to community-based partners nationwide, and will be providing grants that way to make sure there is still impact for their work in other regions.

“A vibrant movement to build power with and for girls of color already exists, and it is time for philanthropy to follow its lead,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of NoVo. “Meaningful change for girls of color in our country is only possible if we shift power to those who are most affected.”

“We are ecstatic about NoVo’s community-based approach to grantmaking,” said Joanne Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity. “Placing girls of color at the core of its grantmaking strategy will help NoVo direct resources where they are most needed and to those who are best positioned to lead social change efforts.”

NoVo’s Listening Tours also helped to affirm that some area of philanthropy are still very underfunded, including investments to end sexual violence and confront racism.

As the press release details, NoVo plans to provide flexible funding to organizations that:

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 infrastructure to partner with on grantmaking and movement capacity building, starting in the Southeast. The regional partner will house efforts that provide grant making 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.

This new announcement builds on the NoVo Foundation’s longstanding focus on adolescent girls, which was part of the organization’s vision at its  inception in 2006.  These new investments will also not compete with NoVo’s work in the Global South, which will “continue to deepen.”

“Whether in Jakarta or Jackson, the movement for girls is led every day by courageous movement leaders creating change in their communities,” added Jody Myrum, director of NoVo’s Advancing Adolescent Rights Initiative. “Together these efforts are advancing a tremendously dynamic and vibrant transnational movement to address the challenges faced by girls throughout the world. Guided by their leadership, the potential for transformative, long-term change is enormous.”

For a full, detailed description of NoVo’s grantmaking strategy or to apply for a grant, please visit their website here.