Laura Washington: Foundation puts energy into making new history

SHARE Laura Washington: Foundation puts energy into making new history

A limousine burns after being smashed by anti-Trump protesters on K Street on Friday. But in Chicago, a foundation is funneling positive energy efforts to make new history.(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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The women marched. The politicians boycotted.

The Man is still in.

Nothing, not the grieving, the sleepless nights, nor the tears, would change that.  The hundreds of thousands who defiantly protested across the nation, and around the world, would not change that.

Donald J. Trump is still president of the United States.


Follow @MediaDervishI wasn’t enthralled with all the agitation. Yes, I respect those who want to send a message to the new administration. Yes, some venting is in order.

Yes, Trump’s own history suggests he is a purveyor of misogyny and bigotry. But all the protests won’t change the history that brought Trump to the White House. In fact, they feed the negative, disrespectful and hateful environment propagated by Trump’s ugliest stances.

Instead, let’s funnel positive energy into concrete, grass-roots efforts to make new history. Let’s do something.

The Chicago Foundation for Women is doing something.  CFW is putting some moolah where the mouths left off.  This month the foundation launched the 100 Day Fund, grantmaking “to spur civic engagement and advocacy in support of gender equity in the first 100 days of the Trump administration.”

The fund is seeking proposals from Chicago area organizations to mount grass-roots activities aimed at helping women and girls across the six-county Chicago area.

“When you are intentional about women and girls and their challenges, you lift up all our communities,” Alysia Tate, CFW’s director of programs, told me last week.  The foundation, a leading advocate for women and girls for 32 years, is applying that longtime philosophy to these new times.

Those challenges, among many, include sexual violence, street crime, poverty, and inequities in pay, education, and health care.

It’s urgent. The foundation is offering “rapid response” grants to encourage community-based civic engagement efforts, with special attention to supporting the engagement and leadership of women of color, Tate said.

“There’s a tremendous energy around women’s issues, more than I have seen in my lifetime,” said Tate, 44.

CFW set aside $50,000 for grants ranging from $500 to $2,500. That might seem like small potatoes in this big world, but it can do something.

The Latino Union has received $2,500 to build engagement and awareness among domestic workers, in response to a new Illinois law that mandates wage and human rights protections for folks who serve as nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers.

Another grant went to a group called Restoring Hope, to launch “Standing in Our Truth,” a social media campaign that will incorporate yoga and the arts to promote “safe spaces” for teen girls on Chicago’s South and West sides.

Young girls of color fear the GOP’s vows to roll back laws and policies that protect reproductive rights, and are fighting back, said founder Tameka Walton.

The project will help girls to “take back our power,” she said, and “show that our bodies matter to us.”

Is CFW’s initiative a political hit at the new guy in Washington? “We are not pointing fingers here,” Tate said.

The 100 Day Fund is nonpartisan, she added. “We take the position that we all need to support these causes and ensure that the voices of women and girls are raised at the grassroots.”

CFW will be accepting proposals until Feb. 3, 2017. For more information, visit

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