Ms. Foundation for Women

Forty years ago, four visionary women established the Ms. Foundation for Women to elevate women's voices and create positive change. Today, we're a dynamic and powerful entity that is leading the charge on women's issues nationwide.
We start with the knowledge that our fight is not yet over. It's true that women have come a long way since the 1970s, but for every woman who has reached the "top" (and who still face discrimination, by the way), there are millions of women struggling to earn a living wage, gain access to basic health care, secure affordable child care and participate in the opportunities that should be available to every person in the U.S.
At the Ms. Foundation, we work to bring attention to the real challenges facing women, especially women of color and low-income women, living in poverty, working paycheck to paycheck or both. We tirelessly advocate for national and statewide policy change that will address these challenges, and we support more than 100 organizations throughout the country that are working for change on a grassroots level.


12 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Ph. 212/742-2300
Fx. 212/742-1653


Principal Staff

Anika Rahman, President and Chief Executive Officer

Deborah Jacobs, Vice President, Advocacy and Policy

Alesia Soltanpanah, Vice President, Development

Featured Events


Projects & Campaigns

It's ridiculous and alarming that birth control and basic health services are still "controversial." We're leading the fight to protect women's reproductive rights, including abortion, access to contraception and health care, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color.
Equal Pay for Women

Forty years ago, a woman would earn only 56% of what a man would earn in an identical job. Today, the pay gap is stuck at 77%. We aren't satisfied, and we won't quit until women earn equal pay for equal work.
Affordable Child Care & Quality Child Care Jobs

Did you know that the full-time child care costs for an infant eat up 41% of the average single mother's income? Or that the very people we rely on to take care of our children earn some of the lowest wages in the country? Affordable child care and quality child care jobs are essential to the health and stability of U.S. families. We need policies that support working parents and providers and reflect real family values. 
Whether it's a colleague, friend or family member, it is likely that you know someone who has been affected by child sexual abuse. Each of us has a role to play in breaking the silence and supporting solutions. Preventing child sexual abuse is within our power, and we are working to provide information, education and resources to keep our children safe. 
Immigration Law that's Right for Women
The majority of immigrants are women – women who are often concentrated in low-wage jobs without access to health care and other benefits, women who have fewer protections from gender-based violence, and women who disproportionately suffer from failed immigration policies. We're advancing immigrants' rights in support of women.


Reports & Resources

Click here for Ms. Foundation publications.


Center News

Anika Rahman: Women Still Struggle in Wake of Recession [video]
Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 12:13pm

 Two years into what was characterized as a recovery, the latest unemployment numbers continue to paint a dire picture for women. Last week, Spotlight on Poverty, an anti-poverty initiative led by a diverse group of foundations, policymakers and advocates, posted the following webcast interview with Ms. Foundation President and CEO Anika Rahman, who discusses the ongoing relevance of the foundation's spring poll's findings and what she and growing numbers of people are calling a "womancession."

View the video here.

Six Months On, the Women of Haiti Fight Back
Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 11:29am

Despite the real dangers they face, the women of Haiti are fighting back, organizing to protect their own safety: they are distributing rape whistles in the camps, and setting up committees to address the needs of women.

The Recession's Deepening Toll on Women
Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 2:33pm

A congressional briefing to release the findings of a major new poll showing that a majority of Americans believe the government should play a larger role in shaping our economy and creating jobs.

Date and Time: June 24, 2010; 9:30 -11 a.m.
Location: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Congressional Meeting Room North
To RSVP or for more information, please contact Tamanna Mansury at 301-656-0348 or

Women & Welfare: Revisiting Reform in the Wake of Economic Crisis
Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 11:17am

In this week's issue of The Nation,Katha Pollitt asks some long overdue questions about the current plight of Americans who entered this recession in poverty -- particularly the women among them.

Read more here!  

First Lady Michelle Obama to Serve as National Honorary Chair of Girls Inc. Board of Directors
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 11:06am
NEW YORK, NY (March 24, 2010) - Girls Incorporated, the nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold and the oldest girl-centered organization in the United States, is delighted to announce that First Lady Michelle Obama has agreed to serve as the organization's Honorary Board Chair.
In this role, Mrs. Obama will lend her support to the ongoing work of Girls Inc., particularly around creating opportunities and resources for girls to learn and grow, to navigate the unique challenges they face growing up, and to discover their potential as leaders with the courage and vision to change the world.


In her short tenure as First Lady, Mrs. Obama has demonstrated her ability to speak to our nation's challenges with sensitivity and depth. Her new campaign on childhood obesity, Let's Move!, will improve the wellbeing of girls, and will complement and bolster efforts to empower girls in creating a healthy society.

"It is crucial to provide girls with the resources and role models to encourage them to share their voices, dream big, and envision themselves as tomorrow's leaders," said Joyce M. Roché, President & Chief Executive Officer of Girls Inc. "Mrs. Obama has achieved at the highest levels of education and law and demonstrates a heartfelt commitment to ensuring that all of our nation's children have the opportunity to realize their full potential. We greatly look forward to the honor of working with her on issues that affect girls, their families, and their communities."

"Exposing our young people to new ideas, introducing them to the larger world beyond their own life experiences, and inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow is of paramount importance and I am pleased to serve as Honorary Board Chair of Girls Inc.," said First Lady Michelle Obama.

Mrs. Obama is the tenth First Lady to serve in this role since 1953, when First Lady Mamie Eisenhower became the first Honorary Board Chair of Girls Inc.


Controversy Over Super Bowl Ad
Monday, February 8, 2010 - 2:59pm

Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier

28 January 2010
Young football star is at center of debate over political statement that will be made on the biggest sports day of the year.

Transcript (with errors)

Bret Baier:     Football star who has become the pride of Florida is at the center of a controversy that has nothing to do with wins and losses. Correspondent Shannon Bream reports on a political stalemate set to be made on the biggest sports day of the year."

Shannon Bream:     The biggest showdown on Super Bowl Sunday may not be on the field but on the airwaves. As pro choice groups call on CBS to drop a pro life featuring college football superstar Tim Tebow and his mother Pam. It's funded by the Christian organization Focus on the Family.

Jim Daly, Focus on the Family President:     And we know what the ad is and we thought this'll be great for the country to see. We didn't expect the level of controversy especially from people that haven't seen the ad.

Shannon Bream:     The ad will tell the story of Pam Tebow's decision not to have an abortion while pregnant with Tim. A number of women's groups say they not only object to the ad but also to the group behind it. The National Organization for Women calls Focus on the Family anti-woman and says the ad puts women's health at risk by quote "promoting ideology over medicine." The Women's Media Center says Focus on the Family is anti-equality and divisive. Other groups are equally wary.

Kierra Johnson, Choice USA [Ms. Foundation for Women grantee]:     "They're known to  spew hate and be very divisive and I'm I have no doubt that will come through and I don't believe that it has a place, again, this un American hate doesn't have a place in this all American past time."

Shannon Bream:     Catholic organizations tried to air a pro life commercial during last year's Super Bowl. It was rejected by NBC which reportedly told the groups it did not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. This year CBS is standing by its decision to air the spot featuring the Tebows. In a statement the network says quote "At CBS our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that insures all ads on all sides of an issue are appropriate for air. We will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups..."

Tim Tebow, U of Florida Quarterback:     Some people won't agree with.

You know I think we can always bound to respect that and I stand up for what I believe, and I'm never, you know shy about that.

Shannon Bream:     The Women's Media Center says CDS is risking alienating viewers and the dollars they would spend with other CBS advertisers. But conservative groups like Concerned Women for America say they want to know why their liberal counterparts haven't raised objections to CBS programs that feature sexually graphic or misogynist to contact. In Washington Shannon Bream Fox News.

The Way We Live Now: The Power of the Purse
Monday, February 8, 2010 - 2:53pm

18 August 2009

By Lisa Belkin

Remember the concept of “sisterhood”? That quaint relic of an idea that women owed it to other women to crash through ceilings and navigate a male world? It just might be taking new root in a most unexpected place — among women with money. There are more women controlling more wealth in the U.S. than ever before. (Of those in the wealthiest tier of the country — defined by the I.R.S. as individuals with assets of at least $1.5 million — 43 percent are women.) And unlike the women who preceded them — old-school patrons who gave to the museum and the symphony and their dead husbands’ alma maters — these givers are more likely to use their wealth deliberately and systematically to aid women in need.

To appreciate the magnitude of this change, go back 150 years or so to the women’s suffrage movement. Back to when one of its leaders, Matilda Joslyn Gage, lamented: “We have yet to hear of a woman of wealth who has left anything for the enfranchisement of her sex. Almost every daily paper heralds the fact of some large bequest to colleges, churches and charities by rich women, but it is proverbial that they never remember the woman suffrage movement that underlies in importance all others.”

Then jump forward to the present: globally, more than 145 funds, with assets of nearly half a billion dollars, exist to improve the lives of women and girls. Many focus their efforts domestically; about a third work internationally. Not one existed in 1972 when the Ms. Foundation, the first national fund for and by women, was established. Collectively they now form the Women’s Funding Network and have plans to increase their joint coffers by another billion dollars by 2018, in concert with a drive called Women Moving Millions, which aims to encourage individuals, mostly women, to donate $1 million or more. The goal was to raise $150 million in three years, a target exceeded this spring by $30 million.

Women Moving Millions began with the literal sisterhood of Helen LaKelly Hunt and Swanee Hunt. Daughters of the legendary oilman H. L. Hunt, they were raised “like Southern belles,” Helen says — taught that money was something a woman “shouldn’t worry her pretty little head about.” As adults they discovered the power of philanthropy, and about three years ago Swanee (whose own nonbelle career includes years as ambassador to Austria and a lectureship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she teaches that gender parity is the way to ensure peace and rebuild societies) called Helen with an offer. “She said she was going to leave me a lot of money in her will,” Helen says, “but I might die first and ruin the surprise, so why doesn’t she give it to me now.” Swanee’s $6 million, and $4 million more from Helen, became the initial pledges to the campaign.

Helen was motivated in part by her own historical research. While writing her doctoral thesis on the origins of feminism, she pieced together the evidence that wealthy women sat on the sidelines during the fight for the right to vote. “Women gave heart, mind, body, intellect, will, blood, sweat and tears, but not their dollars,” she says. “Women didn’t fund suffrage; now women are funding women. That’s historic.”

Some of these new-style philanthropists have familiar names. Oprah comes to mind, as do Abigail Disney, a grandniece of Walt’s, who, with her husband, Pierre Hauser, created the Daphne Foundation, in 1991; and Jennifer Buffett, daughter-in-law of Warren, who is co-chairman of the NoVo Foundation with her husband, Peter; both give much of their money to programs that support low-income women and girls. But most names are not as well known — like Kayrita M. Anderson, the daughter of a housecleaner, whose family foundation has given more than $2 million to help stop child prostitution. Or Jacki Zehner, the first female trader to become a partner at Goldman Sachs and whose family foundation pledged a million to the W.M.M. campaign.

In general, women give differently than men. They are less likely to want their names on things and more likely to give as part of drives (large ones, like Women Moving Millions, and smaller ones, like living-room “giving circles”) that include other women. And they tend to spotlight different causes (women’s health, microfinancing of businesses owned by women) and for different reasons. A study of more than 10,000 large donors by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University suggests that while men describe their giving as practical — filling in the gaps that government can’t or won’t — women describe theirs as emotional, an obligation to help those with less.

Behind all this giving lies the theory that helping women and children is the way to change the planet. “Seventy percent of people living in poverty around the world are women and children,” says Christine Grumm, president and C.E.O. of the Women’s Funding Network. “If women have a roof over their heads and a home free of violence, and good and affordable health care, then so do children. In the larger picture, it’s not just about women, but entire communities. Women are the conduits through which change is made.”

What kind of change this X-linked economic paradigm will bring is still an open question. But what already seems clear is that women are finding their financing clout, and they might have found new unity to boot. “You’ve heard that old nursery rhyme?” asks Helen LaKelly Hunt. “The king is in the counting house counting all the money, the queen is in the parlor, eating bread and honey?” Not anymore, she says. Now “the queen is in there counting, too.” And she has brought a whole roomful of her friends.

Lisa Belkin is a contributing writer and the author of the Motherlode blog.


Opportunities, Grants & Fellowships


We believe that women are the engine for change in their communities. By funding game changing organizations that are successfully addressing pivotal issues of reproductive health; affordable child care with living wage jobs; and ending child sexual abuse – we are having real impact on the lives of women, children, families and paving the road toward a nation of justice for all.
As a national grantmaker, we support organizations at all levels, from grassroots to state and national organizations. We believe that women most directly impacted by an issue are the real experts and we select groups that are of the community they work in.
We choose our grantees carefully, informed by decades of work in the field. Our goals is to connect with emerging and established groups poised to act when and where change is needed.