On Monday, June 10, 2019 Womenade Boston members met to select grant recipients for 2019. Members heard presentations from 8 exciting finalist organizations and then cast their votes to select the 4 all-new grant recipients for 2019. This year's $84,000 in grants brings the nine-year total investment Womenade Boston has made in Boston-area non-profits serving teen girls and women to $754,000.
Organizations/Programs that Empower Teen Girls Age 12-21
Science Club for Girls
Investment: Smart Growth Initiative Junior Mentor expansion
The mission of Science Club for Girls (SCFG) is to foster excitement, confidence, and literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for girls from underrepresented communities by providing free, experiential programs and by maximizing meaningful interactions with women mentors in STEM fields.
SCFG requested a grant of $25,000 from Womenade Boston to implement the Smart Growth Initiative and expand the Junior Mentor (JM) program to four clubs in Somerville and four clubs Boston in FY20. Funding will allow SCFG to sustain 15 JMs in Cambridge and expand JMs to serve an additional 15 girls in Boston/Somerville per semester next year, providing them with mentoring and the confidence to see themselves as capable of attaining a fulfilling and engaging career in STEM. Correspondingly, SCFG plans to increase the number of adult women mentors by 22 per semester in Boston/Somerville including 9 undergraduate mentors in the 17-22 age range.
Investment: In-school & after-school program
MEDIAGIRLS teaches girls and young women to analyze and reject sexist media messaging, know their true self-worth, and harness the power of social media for positive social change. In giving girls these powerful tools, MEDIAGIRLS stands at the forefront of a girl-powered revolution to make over the media through challenging the status quo and creating empowering content for girls and young women everywhere. MEDIAGIRLS focuses mainly on social-media platforms, like Instagram and YouTube, because girls dominate this space in numbers, and can create immediate change. MEDIAGIRLS provides the following services: 1) multi-week programming for teen girls taught in schools (for which MEDIAGIRLS applied for Womenade Funding); 2) stand-alone workshops on Girls & Social Media at schools and girls’ organizations; 3) parent and educator talks on Girls & Social Media, provided at corporations, community centers, and schools, and 4) free original online content that includes conversation starters and strategies that guide parents and educators in helping girls think critically.
MEDIAGIRLS recruits and trains college Mentors who commit to at least one year of volunteer teaching at middle-schools. Mentors complete a rigorous two-day training to learn best teaching methods for their standardized curriculum, and how to be strong role models in the classroom. They use this knowledge to teach middle-school participants with targeted discussion and activities to understand how mainstream media often intentionally makes girls feel insecure to drive company profits. They guide girls in defining their self-worth based on inner qualities rather than their weight and sex appeal. Mentors teach girls to identify racial and gender stereotypes, and other undermining media messages and use their social media in positive ways: to voice their opinions; be authentic (rather than trying to seem “perfect”); and lift up girls rather than tear them down. In Part 2 (eight weeks), girls use their knowledge from Part 1 to design, execute and promote a social media campaign of their choice that empowers girls. Past participants focused on topics such as “being real on social media,” “encouraging girl to speak up,” and “supporting girls who have been bullied.” In this way, our girls go beyond the classroom to become true activists creating actual change, while influencing their peers.
Organizations/Programs that Empower Women Age 22 and Older
Dignity Matters, Inc.
Investment: Supporting Our Growth
Dignity Matters addresses a critical, immediate, growing yet overlooked need – free access to feminine hygiene products and undergarments among local women and girls who cannot afford them. Dignity Matters currently serves 2100 women each month. Dignity Matters has tripled in size in 2 years but unfortunately homeless in Massachusetts continues to grow (up 14% in 2018). They are a unique organization, consisting of a team of 200 dedicated volunteers, working in conjunction with 80 partner non-profit organizations, providing these women with fundamental dignity, improved well-being and the ability to continue their lives without interruption or embarrassment. By holding product drives, volunteers collect in-kind donations of sanitary pads, tampons, incontinence items, underwear and bras. Volunteers sort and distribute these donations to our partner organizations-delivering the products where women can most easily access them: medical clinics serving the homeless; emergency housing shelters; schools and after-school programs; food pantries; centers assisting victims of domestic violence or sex trafficking; and rehabilitation treatment facilities.
Dignity Matters is at a pivotal point in its growth and needs to expand capacity. Dignity Matters has determined that they need to increase cash revenue as currently 64% of revenue is in-kind donations. To do this, they need to hire an experienced Development Consultant who will focus on the creation and implementation of a development plan, including donor cultivation, expanding our donor base, corporate giving and foundation grants. Every additional $10,000 raised by the Development Director will allow us to sufficiently serve an additional 720 homeless women and girls each month, for a year.
The population Dignity Matters assists consists of women and girls who are homeless or low-income. They frequently include single mothers; homeless women; women and teens who escaped domestic violence; girls waiting for foster care; victims of human and sexual trafficking; refugees; women working to battle addiction; elderly women; and, people born male but identifying as female. The population we serve intersects all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, and includes a large percentage of immigrants and refugees. Ages range from teens to senior citizens.
Citizens for Safety, Inc.
Investment: Operation LIPSTICK
Citizens for Safety (CFS) has become a nationally recognized authority and go-to resource on gun trafficking and female straw purchasing. "I’ve supported LIPSTICK from Day One because it’s the only program I know of that specifically empowers women to take an active role in reducing gun trafficking. By refusing to make straw purchases or hold guns for someone, women of every age can make our streets safer." former Suffolk County DA Dan Conley. LIPSTICK reframes gun violence as a public health crisis and stresses the importance of tracking crime guns to the source the way the FDA handles product recalls. LIPSTICK makes it easy for people to engage. Asking "Where did the gun come from?" gives residents an immediate way to become part of the solution by shifting the public focus beyond the shooter. LIPSTICK shows women they can stop the flow of crime guns by saying No. LIPSTICK maintains the only public database on cases involving women straw purchasers. A single article can shed new light on gun sources or warn thousands of women not to traffic guns. Their work has been cited in the Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Public Health, in addition to media organizations like NPR, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post and major daily newspapers in 7 states.
Operation LIPSTICK is a response to research in the Journal of Urban Health that found women play an outsized role in the marketplace for trafficked guns. A gun bought by a woman is 2X as likely to be used in crime. Young women are exploited to "straw purchase" firearms, e.g. purchase guns on behalf of people who cannot pass background checks. Straw purchasing is the most common way guns are trafficked into urban communities. According to the ATF, 46% of firearm trafficking investigations involve a straw purchase. LIPSTICK is the only program to specifically address this important, overlooked dimension of the gun violence epidemic. LIPSTICK is a groundbreaking, trauma informed program of peer education, leadership development, social service intervention, community organizing, and public awareness that prevents women and girls from being exploited to straw purchase, smuggle and hide guns. LIPSTICK does this by empowering local female leaders as peer educators, spokespeople, role models, and mentors to mobilize community partners around a common agenda to prevent and disrupt firearm trafficking. LIPSTICK is young women talking to their peers in schools, churches, cafes, clinics, domestic violence and homeless shelters, beauty salons, on the T and at the kitchen table about the dangers of enabling gun trafficking. LIPSTICK helps women discover their own power to stop shootings by refusing to supply the guns. Former Boston DA credits LIPSTICK with a 33% reduction in gun crimes by women.
2019 Runners Up
Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc.
Investment: Girls Empowerment Project
Casa Myrna was founded in 1977 by activists in Boston's South End to provide a safe haven for women who were being abused by their husbands and partners. Today, Casa Myrna is Boston's largest provider of domestic violence awareness, residential shelter and supportive services for domestic violence survivors. Casa Myrna’s comprehensive range of services, available in both Spanish and English, provide survivors with the tools they need to recover from the trauma of abuse and begin to build sustainable economic stability for themselves and their children. Today, they serve over 1,600 survivors annually, answer 28,000 hotline calls and reach 2,500 people through workshops and public awareness.
Casa Myrna requested a grant of $25,000 to seed the development of the “Girls Domestic and Dating Violence Survivor Leadership Project”. The project will increase the capacity of girls who have experienced domestic and dating violence to be leaders and influencers in combating violence against women and girls. Members of the group will be recruited from survivors in Casa Myrna’s residential and community-based service programs. Casa Myrna and partner, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will provide participants with on-going training and mentorship. Upon recruitment, girls will participate in a 3-month orientation and training program. After training, they will meet once per month to provide leadership and guidance to Casa Myrna’s CEO and leadership team. In addition, they will work together on projects to raise awareness of dating violence though social media, publicly speaking about their experiences with dating/domestic violence, serving as positive role models for younger girls, and serving as social media influencers by helping lead the awareness and prevention campaigns.
City Mission, Inc.
Investment: A Path to Employment
Since 1816, City Mission has leveraged the commitment of congregations, funders, the United Way, and others to advance social justice and access to resources for low-‐income families, particularly those headed by single mothers, implement innovations in service learning across the continuum from high school students to emerging clergy, and advocate for policies that promote stable housing and economic empowerment for all. In 2018, City Mission strengthened our commitment to the community by relocating from downtown Boston to 185 Columbia Road in Dorchester, vastly improving our ability to serve families in our new neighborhood and nearby low-‐income communities.
City Mission proposes A Path to Employment, a new initiative and component of our A Lift Up (ALU) program. ALU is an intensive two-‐year program that prevents homelessness among single mothers by helping them advance their education and employment and achieve economic independence. Mothers identify goals and action plans and complete a skill-‐building curriculum focused on financial literacy, self-‐care, and parenting skills A Path to Employment (the program) leverages ALU by preparing single mothers to be job-‐ready by the end of the ALU program. Located in a child-‐friendly space in the heart of Dorchester, the program will offer: in-‐depth employment readiness assessments, career exploration using market data and interest inventories, individualized employment plans, job readiness workshops, and action steps to launch careers. A Career Advocate will help the single mothers access job training programs and employers suited to their skills and interests. Volunteer mentors, with a priority of professional women of color, will conduct mock interviews and help participants with resume writing and job searches. City Mission will thoroughly evaluate the program.
Girls Rock Campaign Boston
Investment: GRCB Programming
GRCB offers year-round music programming to girls, trans, and gender non-conforming youth in the Boston area. GRCB believes that in order to become leaders in a world that frequently minimizes their voices, girls and youth with marginalized gender identities need to see themselves represented in positive mentors to encourage authenticity and confidence in their own abilities.
GRCB uses hands-on music education and performance as vehicles to enhance self-esteem, encourage collaboration, and amplify the voices of marginalized genders. Through workshops, songwriting, musical education, and the freedom of creative expression, GRCB helps youth realize their own potential, create a sense of their own self-worth, and surpass their own limiting expectations of themselves or their potential. GRCB programming includes two week-long summer sessions, summer intern program, teen leadership programs, volunteer training, year-round workshop series, and an in-school, after school program (BEATS).
REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Inc.
Investment: Community-based Domestic Violence Housing Advocacy Project
Founded in 1981, REACH provides free, confidential support to survivors of domestic violence. REACH operates a shelter and answers hotline calls 24/7 for people in crisis. They assist survivors in the community with emotional support, safety planning, court accompaniment, housing, and other needs. They also provide therapy for children and youth who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence and specialized support for their parents. Their prevention team trains a wide variety of organizations, businesses, schools, and communities on how to recognize and prevent abuse, and promote healthy relationships.
REACH’s proposed program, Community-Based Domestic Violence Housing Advocacy Project, is based on the Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) model, which comes from an increasing awareness that shelter is not the answer for all survivors of domestic violence and can actually be unhelpful for some. The DVHF approach focuses on helping survivors stay in housing or getting into housing quickly – stabilizing the family without entering a shelter or the homelessness system. REACH community advocates work with survivors who are often stuck at the intersection of domestic violence and homelessness.