On June 4, the Maine Women’s Fund announced emergency funding totaling over $53,000 raised through its rapid response Safety First for Women Fund. The Maine Women’s Fund rapidly created this specialized fund to meet the urgent needs of women and girls across the state, according to the Fund, in a news release. Funders and advocates quickly responded and within six weeks, gifts totaling $40,000 were received from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, and the PRBB Foundation and over $13,000 from 59 different individuals.
“Over our 30-year history, approximately 30% of our giving has focused on improving personal safety and ending violence, said Executive Director Kimberly Crichton, in the release. “The Safety First for Women Fund is a rapid-response emergency fund that reflects the Maine Women’s Fund long-term commitment to ending violence for those living in all the communities we serve. We are thrilled to provide $10,000 to the Maine Council on Aging to support their powerful advocacy for greater safety for direct care workers, $27,791 to the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence in support of the work of their nine member resource centers across the State of Maine and $15,439 to the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition in support of the work of their five member domestic and sexual violence advocacy centers throughout the Wabanaki territories.”
Systemic violence against women, violence against Black and Brown people, violence against LGBTQ+ people, violence against poor people, violence against aging and disabled people is all interconnected, according to MWF.
“We know we cannot end violence against women and children without ending all violence,” said MWF. “There is no gender justice without racial justice. The Safety First for Women Fund was created to provide financial support and visibility for these powerful coalitions working at the forefront of our equity challenges in this very moment.
“We are also proud to be amplifying the voices of survivors raising awareness about domestic violence with a $2,000 Swift Social Justice Grant to Finding Our Voices that has filled Midcoast towns with survivor stories hung in downtown business windows. The awareness raising is working, with the local resource center reporting that several people have called the domestic violence hotline seeking support after seeing the banners around town.”
Domestic violence accounts for approximately half of all Maine homicides, according to MWF. In some Wabanaki communities, women have combined sexual and domestic violence rates as high as 80%. Direct care workers, some of Maine’s lowest wage workers who provide the personal care for the elderly and disabled, were without adequate access to personal protection equipment and access to testing at the time this fund was started.
“We are honored to have had the opportunity to mobilize our community around these issues and we are deeply grateful to the 59 individuals and the three foundations who trusted and invested in the Maine Women’s Fund knowledge of the landscape, understanding of the places where other funders were investing, and identification of some of the most pressing unmet needs facing women and girls in Maine and the Wabanaki territories were,” said Board Chair, Janice Rogers. “Every gift we’ve ever made is reflective of someone’s belief in our work, in the power of women seeing and investing in each other.”
About the Maine Women’s Fund
Since 1989, the Maine Women's Fund has been incubating and investing in nonprofit organizations run by and for Maine women and girls. Through its $2.9 million endowment, it makes annual financial investments in new and established organizations working towards its mission – to transform the lives of Maine women and girls through innovative programs and advocacy efforts. The Maine Women’s Fund provides financial and technical assistance to the organizations it partners with to build capacity, achieve sustainability and develop the next generation of women leaders. In the past 30+ years the Maine Women’s Fund has granted over 475 awards totaling more than $2.5 million to 225 organizations investing in the power of women and girls across the state.
The Maine Women’s Fund is the only Maine foundation focused exclusively on advancing gender equity. In 2017, the Maine Women’s Fund created a rolling Swift Social Justice Grants Program to complement the Annual Grants Program and stand with women and girls from communities disproportionately impacted by the current policy and social landscape as they address immediate threats or take advantage of opportune moments. The Safety First for Women Fund is the Maine Women’s Fund first pooled emergency fund.
Learn more at www.mainewomensfund.org.