NoVo Foundation to Invest $90 Million in Future of Women of Color

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08: NoVo Foundation President and Co-Chair/V-Day Board member Jennifer Buffett speaks on stage at V-DAY's Viva Vevolution! fundraiser at Urban Zen on June 8, 2011 in New York City. The NoVo Foundation recently announced the organization would invest $90 million to support the education of young women of color. Photo credit: Gary Gershoff

[dropcap type=”1″]T[/dropcap]he NoVo Foundation, which is run by the son and daughter-in-law of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has announced they will pledge a $90 million investment in girls and young women of color in the U.S.

The foundation is calling the effort the largest ever made by a private foundation to address structural problems facing girls and young women of color in the U.S.

“This work is about dismantling the barriers that prevent them from realizing that potential and leading us toward a truly transformative movement for change,” said Jennifer Buffett, co-president of the NoVo Foundation in a statement released Wednesday.

“Our goal is to create the conditions for change by advancing the work of the real experts in this movement: girls and young women of color and the advocates working with them,” added Peter Buffett, co-president.

The NoVo Foundation, which was created in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett will target the funds to “support grassroots programming and advocacy, as well as national-level policy and culture change efforts,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation.

Additionally, they say the effort will be “girl-led, girl-driven and designed to address the systemic and institutional challenges faced by girls and young women of color across the country. This commitment builds on the leadership of women of color who have worked for years to further this movement,” added Shifman.

Before the money is specifically allocated, the NoVo Foundation will launch learning sessions with girls and young women of color, and their advocates in the summer of 2016 and they will continue through the remainder of the year.

The sessions will gather the ideas of girls and advocates from regions that have been left of out of the philanthropy conversation. The foundation says the goal will be “a funding strategy that is truly shaped by girls themselves,” and that is accountable to them.

The final strategy will be announced in 2017.

“We hope this kind of broad-based, fundamental change will impact girls and young women in communities of all kinds across the country, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all girls and women can unlock their full potential,” said Shifman. “Now is our chance to work together to harness this moment and ensure it is translated into long-term, meaningful change.”

This week has featured big news regarding focus on the needs of African American women and girls. On March 22, three members of Congress, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Robin Kelly (D-IL) announced the first-ever Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.

The members say the focus on the Caucus is to “eliminate significant barriers and disparities experienced by black women.”

“From barriers in education, to a gender-based pay gap that widens with race, to disparities in both diagnoses and outcomes for many diseases, our society forces Black women to clear many hurdles faced by no other group, and asks them to do it with little assistance,” said Rep. Watson Coleman.

“Black women deserve a voice in a policy making process that frequently minimizes, or altogether ignores the systemic challenges they face. This caucus will speak up for them,” she added in a statement.

Many advocates on women’s issues were unhappy with the limited focus on the White House initiative My Brother’s Keeper, which is focused on young men and boys of color. These two recent efforts appear to be an attempt to swing the pendulum of philanthropy in the specific direction of women and girls of color.

The White House does have a Council of Women and Girls. The Council recently announced $118 million from women’s foundations and academic institutions that will focus on improving the life chances of young women of color.