Dear Friends,

The bright sun peeking through my windows normally brings immeasurable joy to my soul. However, it is going to take more than that fantastic ball of light to warm my aching heart today. I have witnessed the best and the worst of this city I love in the space of the weekend; my daughter and I joined what seemed to be thousands of people peacefully and vociferously proclaiming BLACK LIVES MATTER on Saturday afternoon. By Saturday evening, we watched the pain and rage boil over into a city we didn’t recognize.

To the Women’s Fund Board, Committee, OPTIONS and Sage members, donors and friends who are black and brown, I know you are exhausted. I am sorry. This is awful.

I have been thinking about the role Women’s Fund plays in being an anti-racist organization; we do this in four ways: our mission, our people, our funding, and leading for change. These four threads allow us to look carefully at immediate concerns caused by decades of systemic racism through our funding, leveraging our community leadership for long-term systemic change, and the hard work in the middle that creates cracks and interrupts the status quo.

OUR MISSION
Last year we changed our mission statement to align with CICF’s mission:

WOMEN’S FUND OF CENTRAL INDIANA MOBILIZES PEOPLE, IDEAS AND INVESTMENTS SO EVERY WOMAN AND GIRL IN OUR COMMUNITY HAS AN EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITY TO REACH HER FULL POTENTIAL —NO MATTER PLACE, RACE OR IDENTITY.

We use this as our guidepost and make sure that our decision making always connects back to our mission.

OUR PEOPLE
In order to best serve women and girls in our community, we need to have a broad diversity of people making decisions. We know one person is a token, two is company and three change the conversation. By having diversity in our leadership and decision making bodies, the conversation is changed, inherent bias is chipped away and we begin moving towards cultural competencies and equity. Our Board leadership and committees are all co-chaired by at least one woman of color, all of our committees are at least 50% women of color, our Board is 32% people of color and we will move to 50% as terms change.

OUR FUNDING
We have a strong commitment to ensuring the funding we put in the community is not only serving women and girls of color but also in a culturally competent way. Until systems are changed, and because trauma continues to grow and fester, we need to think about providing funding to address that fall-out. The most significant investment we have made in in this space is a $750,000 grant to provide culturally competent, trauma-informed theatre programming for girls of color so they can tell their stories and begin the process of healing. This dynamic new effort: the Sankofa Paradigm was created by Asante Children’s Theatre in partnership with Boys & Girls Club, Community Health Network and IUPUI. Women’s Fund held a Town Hall via Zoom on June 5, 2020 to hear from the leaders of Asante Children’s Theatre: Deborah Asante and Keesha Dixon to learn about their 30-year history of providing programming that works to ensure youth who face adversity and increased risk factors have a safe place to develop behaviors that mitigate the impact of trauma. We will post a recording of this Town Hall and a blog about the event soon.

LEADING FOR CHANGE
As a fund of CICF, Women’s Fund is deeply engaged in the Foundation’s efforts to end systemic racism over the next two decades and we are using our voice to amplify their efforts. We are using our community leadership to shine a light in spaces where women of color have been silenced, unappreciated and ignored and then lift these women up by giving them a voice, appreciation and recognition. We will advocate for change and actively participate in dismantling racist systems.

Thank you for your interest in and support of Women’s Fund. You are appreciated!

Kindest regards,

Jennifer Pope Baker
Executive Director
Women’s Fund of Central Indiana