June 10, 2020

For Immediate Release

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) WOMEN’S WAY is the proud recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Chosen from a nationwide pool of over a thousand applicants, WOMEN’S WAY was among 28 grantees picked to take part in the Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge that supports projects focused on elevating diverse voices and changing the national conversation about poverty and economic mobility. Funds will be used to launch a fellowship program seeking to change the narrative on economic insecurity of women in the region. The project will be designed and implemented by the Women’s Economic Security Initiative (WESI), a collaborative initiative of WOMEN’S WAY which engages local partners around a shared vision that all women in the Philadelphia region will attain financial well-being for themselves and their families.

The fellowship will train and empower 10 women with the lived experience of economic insecurity to share their personal stories through professional-level audio, visual, and print. The purpose of the program will be to generate awareness of racial and gender inequities in economic opportunity and spur actions among the public and private sectors that improve economic security in the Philadelphia region. Ultimately, fellows’ stories will be widely promoted and easily accessible through partner organizations, and fellows will convene with journalists, policymakers and philanthropists to identify actions to improve economic security of women and their families  It is anticipated that the fellowship program will be launched no later than early 2021.

“Women with lived experiences of poverty are the experts on economic insecurity, yet their stories get overlooked or become folded into someone else’s narrative, on someone else’s deadline.  Solutions-and shifting the language and attitudes of change-makers must be crafted by these women directly. We are proud to set this standard and for Philadelphia to serve as a leading example.”- Diana Lu, WESI Community Partner


For press inquiries, contact Imani Harris, Development and Communications Associate

(215) 985-3322 ext. 225


About WESI

The Women’s Economic Security Initiative (WESI) is a long-term, systems-level collaborative initiative centered around the shared vision that all women in the Philadelphia region attain financial well-being for themselves and their families. With the understanding that no one organization or sector alone can solve this deep-rooted issue, WESI brings together government, nonprofits, philanthropy, business and women with the lived experience of economic insecurity around a common agenda and aligned activities. Learn more about WESI here.


WOMEN’S WAY’s  mission is to inspire and mobilize the community to invest in organizations and leaders that will advance the rights of, and opportunities for, women and girls and achieve gender equality for all. They hold a unique place in the nation’s history as the first “umbrella” funding federation in the United States specifically dedicated to women’s issues. Their organization was formed in the mid-1970s by seven women-led agencies that focused on wage equity, rape crises, domestic violence, reproductive freedom and post-incarceration reentry. Because mainstream funding was not available for the progressive causes they championed, they joined together to raise a collective voice and generate critical funding for issues impacting women. Since our founding, WOMEN’S WAY has raised more than $24 million to enhance the lives of women, girls and families, and to provide vital support to the agencies that serve them.


The purpose of the Grand Challenge, launched in September 2019, is to establish ways to offer alternatives to confusing, conflicting, and inaccurate accounts about what poverty is, why it happens, to whom it happens, and how to address it. Key partners on the project have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Omidyar Network, Raikes Foundation, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Schultz Family Foundation.

The Grand Challenge is part of a multi-funder, multiyear plan to examine economic mobility and opportunity in this country, to create tools to help everyone better understand the systemic factors that lead to the presence of greater economic mobility in their own neighborhoods, and to craft and test strategies for changing the outlook for people experiencing poverty

Read the official press release issued by the Gates Foundation here.