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The Chicago Foundation for Women Celebrates 30 Years!

Chicago Foundation for Women co-founders Iris J. Krieg, Marjorie Craig Benton andSunny Fischer

In 1984, Iris J. Krieg, Marjorie Craig Benton, Sunny Fischer along with Lucia Woods Lindley held a series of planning groups that laid the financial and programmatic groundwork for what would become the Chicago Foundation for Women. Their vision was fueled by the desire to increase access, equity and attention to philanthropic activity by, for and about women. Since awarding its first grant in 1985, the Chicago Foundation for Women has awarded more than $26 million dollars to over 3,000 organizations in and around Chicago.

In the past 30 years, advances have been made but barriers still exist that impact the economic security, safety and health of women and the families in their care.

In 2014, women in the US earned only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. (In Chicago, the gap was larger with women earning 65 cents for every dollar earned by men.) Projections from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicate that if current trends continue, pay equity will not be reached until 2059.

Since the mid 1970’s, a range of legal protections have been implemented nationally and a network of services established for victims of domestic violence. The first domestic-violence specific federal funding stream—the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA)—was enacted in 1984 to fund domestic violence shelters and programs. Presently, there are 1,916 domestic violence programs in the United States. The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s (NNEDV) 2014 National Census of Domestic Violence Services reveals that local domestic violence programs across the country provided help and safety to 67,646 adults and children who were victims of domestic violence in just one 24-hour period. In the same 24 hour period, 10,871 requests for services were unmet because of limited resources. 40% of unmet requests were for emergency shelter. 16% of unmet requests were for transitional housing. 44% of unmet requests were for non-residential services. Programs were forced to cut over 1,300 staff positions in 2014. Most of these positions (76%) were direct service providers, such as shelter staff or legal advocates.

Today, women are less likely to die from heart disease, breast cancer, and lung cancer, but more likely to experience poor mental health, have their activities limited by their mental or physical health and to be diagnosed with diabetes or certain sexually transmitted diseases. Further, the suicide mortality rate among women has increased. Women have higher incidences than men of certain mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Factors that may contribute to women experiencing these conditions more frequently than men include: higher rates of poverty; greater responsibility in caring for disabled or sick family members; and trauma from gender-based violence. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has increased women’s access to preventive health care and other services, yet some women continue to face barriers to obtaining the services they need. (Institute for Women's Policy Research, May 2015).

Issues impacting women and girls are among the many areas in which Iris Krieg & Associates provides guidance to donors. Please contact us for more information about our advisory services.

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