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A Reflection on Investing in Women and Girls of Color

// April 25, 2024

We’ve Listened and Learned from our Achievements, Mistakes

It has been almost four years since we first introduced our idea for the Women & Girls of Color Fund in a blog post, “Learning from Our History: Investing in Women and Girls of Color.” In that piece, I shared a philosophy that continues to guide us: “Knowing our history is a gift. It gives us the opportunity to learn from our achievements and from our mistakes to create a better future.“

One of the ways that we learn about our impact is through a yearly evaluation. The Year 2 Women & Girls of Color Fund evaluation and community feedback report allowed us to spend the first few months of 2024 reflecting on our successes and shortcomings. I am so proud of the work we have done so far. Since our first grant cycle in the spring of 2021, The Women’s Foundation and our Women & Girls of Color Fund advisory council have now granted $2.5 million to over 80 incredible women and nonbinary leaders of color across Colorado. Grants gave those leaders the space to care for themselves, invest in their teams, and respond to critical community needs.

One grantee shared, “This funding has helped me to not burn out—I have been able to find ways to help me take care of myself to be a better leader and an example to others. Knowing that there is an organization out there that thinks about me as a leader of color and ways they can support encourages me to continue with my role.”

We Know It’s Time for A Shift

I am also grateful for the trusting relationships we built that allow our community to honestly and openly share ways that we must do better. Throughout the years, we have completely reworked the application, lessened requirements, shifted timelines, and increased transparency – all based on both funded and unfunded applicant feedback. In our first year, we asked applicants to fill out what we believed was a simple budget template. We quickly learned that it was anything but simple to translate an organization’s budget into a new template, however brief. We asked applicants to submit their budget in whatever format they already used in 2022 and by 2023 we had scrapped that requirement entirely in favor of a simple operating budget number. We asked ourselves, “What do we need to know?”, not “What do we want to know?”.

This year’s evaluation highlighted several important recommendations, such as multi-year funding and clearer decision making processes, that require serious consideration. After six grant cycles, two evaluations, and countless conversations with community leaders, we have the wisdom and humility to know that it is time for a shift.

Today, corporations and foundations are quietly pulling back from their commitments to racial justice made in 2020 and funders are second guessing the legality of their racial equity grantmaking. At the same time, attacks on the agency of women and LGBTQ+ people – especially at the intersections of race and gender – are eroding what progress we have made. Through this, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado stands firm: we must protect our progress. Women, girls, and nonbinary people of color are uniquely positioned to lead us into a better future because of their lived experiences. We will continue to explicitly and unapologetically fund their leadership.

While grantmaking will continue, we will not have open applications in 2024 and 2025 in order to give our staff the time and space to re-envision our processes based on what we’ve learned from our grantees and our advisory council, aligning the Women & Girls of Color Fund even more deeply with our values and community needs.

Our Goal Is A Community of Care

We are excited to share that while we are visioning, we are responding to many of our community’s recommendations, including multi-year funding, more intentional investments in capacity building, and elevating the importance of investing in women and nonbinary people of color to other funders. Our staff explored and responded to advisory council feedback from all past cycles by identifying 34 organizations across Colorado whose executive directors embody liberatory leadership and our focus on gender, racial, and economic equity. This group will receive $700,000 in unrestricted funding in 2024 and again in 2025. These grantees are the first Women & Girls of Color Fund cohort to receive two-year grants.

Beyond 2024 and 2025, we will prioritize creating a community of care for applicants and our advisory council, designing a transparent and responsive rubric, and reducing the time and money spent by applicants – not to mention the mental burden applicants shoulder. Our next open grant cycle will be in 2026. Please reach out to me at if you’d like to share your ideas.

For the first time this summer, grantees from the Women & Girls of Color Fund and WINcome will come together for two days of capacity building at a convening focused on self-care, storytelling, and advancing policy. A major focus will also be introducing grantees to local, regional, and national funders. As a funder, it is our job to open doors and invite fellow funders to join us in prioritizing women and nonbinary leaders of color. We look forward to sharing stories and photos from the gathering.

Meet Our 2024/2025 Women & Girls of Color Fund Grantees

While we continue to listen and learn, we invite you to get to know our remarkable grantees. Their visions of equity for our communities show us the way forward, toward a better future for all of us.

Action Is Safer

Shannon Robinson Headshot


Headquarters: Mesa County
Serving: Mesa, Delta, Montrose, and Garfield counties

Action is Safer is a community organization committed to Harm Reduction and fighting systemic oppression. Founded by BIPoC and Queer women based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action.

Asian Girls Ignite


Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, and Jefferson counties

Asian Girls Ignite builds a strong community of Asian American and Pacific Islander girls and women to celebrate their individual and collective power through shared stories.

Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (CHIC)



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, and Denver counties

CHIC builds women’s economic, social, and cultural capital because powerful women build healthy families and thriving communities.

Colorado Circles for Change



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties

To create a pathway for our youth to discover sacred relationships with self, family, and community, to reduce violence and incarceration so that youth can reach their full potential.

Colorado Jobs with Justice

Sofia Solano headshot



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, and Denver counties

Colorado Jobs with Justice is a long-term, formal coalition of labor, community, faith, and student and youth organizations that come together to advance workers’ rights and social justice through building sustained relationships and taking direct action to create concrete change in the lives of working families.

Colorado River Valley Team

Esmerelda Zuniga Headshot



Headquarters: Garfield County
Serving: Garfield County

The Colorado River Valley Team works together to improve the well-being and progress of low-income families in the Colorado River Valley by developing leadership, education, and rights in communities.


Wendolyne Omana Headshot 2023


Headquarters: La Plata County
Serving: La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties

Construyendo supports resilience practices to heal ourselves and our children through ancestral methods of healing, professional massage therapy, herbalism, acupuncture, yoga therapy, zumba for people with different conditions, workshops with Latinx mental health professionals; among other services related to health and wellness.

First Generation Near Peer Mentoring Program

Maira Oliva headshot



Headquarters: Larimer County
Serving: Larimer, Morgan, and Weld counties

First Generation Near Peer Mentoring PROJECT fosters a cycle of academic and socioemotional support for Spanish-speaking students in local K-12 schools by pairing 55+ mentors and mentees who share similar experiences and backgrounds in partnership with the Colorado State University Access Center.

Food to Power


Headquarters: El Paso County
Serving: El Paso County

Food to Power cultivates a healthy and equitable food system in Colorado Springs. FTP envisions a world in which communities heal and thrive in relationship with food, land, and each other.

Fortaleza Familiar



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties

Fortaleza Familiar is dedicated to the wellness of Indigenous Chicanx Latinx Lesbian Gay Bi Queer Trans Two-Spirit young people and their families in Colorado.

Haseya Advocate Program



Headquarters: El Paso County
Serving: El Paso County

Haseya works to ensure Native survivors of domestic and sexual violence have access to everything they need to live healthy, safe, and peaceful lives.

IDEA Stages (IDEAs)



Headquarters: Boulder County
Service Area: Statewide

IDEAs galvanizes theater makers to take demonstrable action toward inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

Ladies First

Ariel Ruempolhamer headshot


Headquarters: Denver County
Service Area: Denver County

Ladies First establishes an engaging and intellectual community where young Black women of all cultural backgrounds can come together and raise awareness of the many facets of young Black women’s experiences in high school; including popular culture, politics, history, and relating these topics back to diasporic roots.

Lamar Unidos

Nancy Diaz headshot



Headquarters: Prowers
Serving: Prowers, Baca, Bent, and Otero counties

Lamar Unidos works with the community to tackle issues that are most pressing such as education, economic justice, immigration, financial and tax help, physical health and civic engagement.

Latina SafeHouse

Angela Cesena headshot


Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties

Latina SafeHouse provides bilingual and culturally sensitive services to Latiné survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through a compassionate, multi-generational approach.

Liberation is Local

cori wong headshot 2024


Headquarters: Larimer County
Serving: Larimer County

Liberation is Local creates containers for learning liberation in and with our local Northern Colorado community through intimate and experimental ways. Our goal is to emphasize values and practices of intimacy, connectedness, reflection, learning, playfulness, humor, and what it is like to actively be in a transformative process for collective liberation on a local level.

Light Carrier

Candice Bailey headshot



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Statewide

Light Carrier brings hope to families through empowerment, education, economics, and advocacy.

Mama Bird Doula Services



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties

Mama Bird Doula Services improves the outcomes for Black maternal health and their babies in our community by ensuring that all birthing persons and their families feel Safe, Seen, and Heard through high-quality, compassionate, and culturally responsive care.

Native Love

Daisy Bluestar Headshot



Headquarters: La Plata
Serving: Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties

Native Love empowers Native youth by providing culturally responsive programming.

Promotores De Esperanza

Rica Rodriguez headshot



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties

Promotores De Esperanza strives to promote racial/ethnic health equity through the provision of culturally and linguistically competent services designed to minimize barriers for people of color in our communities.



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Arapahoe and Denver counties

QueenShipp empowers all young people – including queer, trans, and non-binary students – through a holistic approach that includes leadership development, mentorship and community engagement to develop emotionally intelligent and civically minded leaders who contribute to their families and greater communities.

S.A.C.R.Ed Eco-Center (Seeding Ancestral Community Relationships Education)

Benu Amun-Ra headshot



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, and Larimer counties

S.A.C.R.Ed Eco-Center holds space for decolonizing healing through ancestral knowledge, re-indigenization, and medicinal ecology while supporting our communities in advocacy and education.

San Luis Valley American Indian Center


Headquarters: Saguache County
Serving: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties

The San Luis Valley American Indian Center is committed to promoting the health and well-being of American Indians of all tribal nations in the San Luis Valley by positively promoting and strengthening determinants of health through social unity, health equity, cultural education development, and enhancing self-determination by being committed to the preservation of Native/Indigenous culture; and by encouraging mutual understanding and respect between American Indians and non-Indians in the region.

STAR Girlz Empowerment


Headquarters: Adams County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, and Weld counties

STAR Girlz’ mission is to Mentor, Empower, and ultimately Transform the lives of female youth and young adult women through providing mental health services, psychoeducational empowerment classes, transitional housing, entrepreneurship training and educational exposure to create jobs and promote healthier lifestyle choices.

Storytellers of the Ancestral Red Road (SOAR)

Rebecca Mayahuel Robles headshot


Headquarters: Pueblo County
Serving: Pueblo County

Storytellers of the Ancestral Red Road (SOAR) is a Southern Colorado collective of Indigenous Elders and allies, sharing cultural wisdom in multi-generational educational settings, and practicing well-being and community-focused healing through creative expression.

The Compound of Compassion



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Douglas counties

The Compound of Compassion provides a safe place of healing for youth, young adults, veterans and seniors.

The Learning Council



Headquarters: Delta County
Serving: Delta County

The Learning Council enriches community through education, art, advocacy, food, agriculture and wellness for all.

Transformative Leadership for Change

Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Dolores, Douglas, Eagle, El Paso, Garfield, Gunnison, Jefferson, Lake, La Plata, Larimer, Las Animas, Logan, Mesa, Montezuma, Morgan, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, San Miguel, Summit, Weld, and Yuma counties

Transformative Leadership for Change’s (TLC) mission is to transform ourselves (BIPOC movement leaders), our organizations, and the larger movement ecosystem so we can thrive in our leadership, build real power for our communities, and see our visions of liberation come to life.

Tu Casa

Theresa Ortega Headshot



Headquarters: Alamosa County
Serving: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties

Tu Casa exists to promote safe, healthy, and violence free lives for all people in the San Luis Valley.

Urban Sanctuary Nonprofit

Ali Duncan headshot



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Statewide

Urban Sanctuary creates and establishes a safe space for people of color and the LGBTQAI+ community by giving them access to tools, resources, and a positive culture through yoga, meditation, and movement courses.

Voces Unidas for Justice

Headquarters: El Paso County
Serving: Statewide

Voces Unidas for Justice as una organización culturalmente Latin@ y basada en la comunidad. Usamos español e inglés al propósito. Celebramos las identidades Latin@s que se extienden por todas Las Américas. Existimos para apoyar a sobrevivientes de violencia e injusticia, como violencia doméstica y acoso sexual. Apoyamos con servicios de asesoría confidencial y practicas culturales utilizado para sanación y justicia. Voces Unidas for Justice is a Latino cultural organization rooted in the community. We use both Spanish and English on purpose. We celebrate the Latin@ identities that span the whole of the Americas. We exist to support victims of violence and injustice, such as domestic violence and sexual assault, with confidential victim advocacy and cultural practices for healing and justice.



Headquarters: Arapahoe County
Serving: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, and Denver counties

YAASPA encourages and supports disengaged and underserved youth to participate in their communities socially and politically, in order to make changes within the community. To create political and social awareness regarding issues that directly and/or adversely affects our communities, it is necessary to be educated. Through activism and education, we can redefine the standards that have been placed upon us.

Youth of Culture Program




Headquarters: La Plata County
Serving: La Plata County

The Youth of Culture Program creates space & time for Youth of Culture (IBOPoC) in La Plata schools.

Youth Seen



Headquarters: Denver County
Serving: Adams, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, and Weld counties

Youth Seen fosters and empowers the social and emotional well-being of LGBTQI youth and their families in all communities.

Camisha Lashbrook is The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s director of donor relations and strategic grantmaking. She guides The Foundation’s stewardship practices, advises fundholders, and leads the Women & Girls of Color Fund. A throughline in all aspects of her work is a commitment to shifting power in philanthropy.

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