Earlier in June, the WNY Women’s Foundation announced that Buffalo has been selected a Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hub. What exactly does that mean? It means that moving forward, women and girls in Buffalo will be able to access more support when it comes to starting and operating economic endeavors. Buffalo now joins communities across the US, thanks to the national Women’s Funding Network.
The initiative has been made possible by grant funding received by the WNY Women’s Foundation, which will begin to develop a workforce development model using strategies incorporated in its MOMs: From Education to Employment® program. This data-driven program already operates at seven community college campuses regionally.
“While the MOMs program successfully leads to family-sustaining jobs for many women, for others, a college education is not the right fit and is too burdensome while raising children. A workforce development model has the potential to benefit even more women and their families,” said WNY Women’s Foundation Executive Director Sheri Scavone. “The new Women’s Regional Economic Mobility Hub will convene partners from community support services and various collaborations to further the support for women and their families.”
The Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs will create local environments that identify and connect community assets toward market demands that will build lasting livelihoods for women and their families.
In order to fortify the model, and get it up and running quickly and efficiently, the WNY Hub – part of a larger cohort network – has partnered with two nonprofits on the city’s East Side:
- Harvest House – Students are single mothers living with incomes below the federal poverty level
- Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT) – 72% of students are African-American, 95% are female, and 55% have children
“This strategic collaboration among our organizations will provide practical and flexible choices for women in the community who are committed to finding new career pathways for themselves and their families,” said Gina Burkhardt, BCAT CEO.
The overlying strategy behind the project is to create more opportunities for women and girls, while engaging with other national cohort members that include the Chicago Foundation for Women, Maine Women’s Fund, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Arkansas Women’s Fund, Iowa Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, Women’s Foundation of Colorado, WNY Women’s Foundation, and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
Hubs will focus on the critical range of social, economic, health, and environmental conditions necessary for women to thrive within their regional ecosystems.
“Women’s foundations have a long history of addressing women’s economic security and mobility within their communities. This project multiplies each organization’s individual impact, while increasing our Network’s intelligence by facilitating multi-year, multi-foundation collaborations across the United States,” said Women’s Funding Network President and CEO Elizabeth Barajas-Román. “This work is critical now, more than ever because of the economic devastation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The gender lens approach that women’s foundations apply to poverty alleviation and economic security is effective because of its grasp on the drivers of complex systems.”
The initiative is couldn’t be in place at a better time, as the entire country, and world, is economically reeling from COVID-19.
To start, the cohort will embark upon a learning and organizing process, before launching the Regional Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs in October 2020.
More information about the Women’s Funding Network’s Women’s Economic Mobility Hubs available at www.womensfundingnetwork.org.
For more information on the work of Women’s Funding Network and its members, visit www.womensfundingnetwork.org or connect with us on Twitter @womensfunding and on Facebook at facebook.com/womensfundingnetwork.
Lead image: Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com