At a certain point, it's time to take matters into your own hands. That's what Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys, Robyn Afrik and Lucia Rios did in 2018 when they founded Women of Color Give (WOCG).
This philanthropic collective on Michigan's Lakeshore strives to fix "traditional" philanthropy by having diverse groups lead the giving, rather than merely receiving from those not even in their community. Despite making up 19% of the U.S. population, women and girls of color only receive 2% of giving.
Women of Color Give is philanthropy by women of color, for women of color. We asked the founders to tell us more about the nonprofit and what they have in store for 2022!
HOW DID WOCG GET STARTED?
Women of Color Give was founded after vigorous conversations around the perception of women of color in the broader community as recipients of goodwill as opposed to stewards, leaders and philanthropists. We connected with other women of color who were excited about the vision of creating a space for us and by us, where we could also influence change in the broader community.
We also reached out to our partners at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area to explore our options and the benefits of carving out space in formalized philanthropy. As a collective, we aim to change the local charitable giving landscape by adding more diverse voices to the formal philanthropy narrative. We exist to create a shared space where we connect, reimagine and invest.
HOW DOES WOCG DECIDE WHO TO SUPPORT?
Women of Color Give launches its nomination process in the fall, where members get to select organizations/causes committed to the advancement, development and promotion of Black, Indigenous, and people of color on the Lakeshore (which we define as Ottawa and Muskegon Counties). Once nominations close, five organizations with the most nominations are then invited to submit a short application. Members review and score these applications based on a rubric.
Later, members and the top five organizations attend an end-of-year gathering referred to as our Pitch Night, where the organization pitches for 10 minutes on the alignment of their proposal to the fund's purpose. Members also get to ask clarifying questions and enjoy an evening connecting with each other and the finalists. We score these presentations, then vote at the end, ranking the five organizations, with funding awarded based on their ranking. Last year's top-ranking grantee was Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates, a nonprofit legal services and advocacy organization that serves individuals across West Michigan.
WHY WOULD YOU SUGGEST SOMEONE BECOME A WOCG MEMBER?
You will have a direct impact on where your donations are going. You will be able to connect with other passionate professional women of color. You can connect with other women of color at events and socials and participate on various committees. You will be part of a unique collaborative in changing the narrative in giving.
WHAT GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR 2022?
Continue to grow:
2. Investor base.
3. Funds available for distribution.
For more information, follow @WOCGive on Facebook and Instagram, and visit wocgive.org.
Written by Josh Veal, Contributing Writer for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Feb/Mar '22 issue of West Michigan Woman.