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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Women and Girls Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Civil Rights, Women, Womens Rights, Youth Community Service Clubs, Youth Development - Citizenship

Mission: The mission of the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) is to achieve equality for women and girls, now and for generations to come. Our vision is for women and girls in Pennsylvania to have equal access, opportunity, and influence in all aspects of their public and private lives. To realize this vision, the organization’s active work is focused on developing the female leaders of tomorrow and advancing women’s rights today through advocacy, coalition building, and grantmaking.

Results: Since we began operations in 2004, WGF has made nearly $1 millon in grants to advance womens' rights at the local, regional, state, and national levels. We've engaged over 300 young women in civic action through our GirlGov program, empowering them to take an interest in making their voices and concerns heard on a political scale. Through our partnership with the Post-Gazette and State Treasurer Rob McCord, we've increased female participation on corporate boards and government appointments. And, every day we are activating women (and men!) as donor-champions for the rights of women and girls for generations to come.

Target demographics: We seek equity for all women without discrimination on the basis of nationality, economic status, class, race, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 192 single moms, 135 students, 62 high-schools, 100 state-wide coalition partners, 7 million Pennsylvanians advocating for Paid Leave For All.

Geographic areas served: The Women and Girls Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Programs: GirlGov, Femisphere, Family Care Campaign

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Julie H.13

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Women and Girls Foundation is doing incredible work leading the charge for Paid Family Leave in Pennsylvania and their GirlGov civic engagement program that trains high-school girls to be our next generation of leaders (among many great accomplishments). They have been critical in the Fight for $15 minimum wage and paid sick days legislation. WGF is on the frontlines and delivers results!

Board Member

Rating: 5

This fairly small organization has a tremendous impact. Its "GirlGov" program teaches more than a hundred high schoolers about leadership and advocacy each year. It is co-chairing a campaign advocating for paid family and medical leave in Pennsylvania. And its Femisphere project connects economic aid and poverty reduction efforts with the needs of women and single-parent households. Women and Girls Foundation also awards grants to smaller organizations addressing various aspects of gender inequity, and has established itself as a leader in this field. Rarely have i seen such a small, dedicated team improve the lives of so many.

MartaMC

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) is a key organization for breaking down barriers and building opportunities for girls and women. WGF's work first focused on Pittsburgh and the southwestern region of Pennsylvania. Programs that teach, advocate, and empower girls to learn and to lead with the GirlGov program. The grantmaking programs support intersectional priorities for women and girls across the region. The Femisphere program started with applied research to learn about the lives of single moms in Pittsburgh, a group of important people who, together with their children, are at high risk of living in poverty. The results of the research were used to identify how to better address some key needs, such as childcare, education, and transportation. This work also helps to empower women. WGF's work expanded to the state level, collaborating with other organizations and stakeholders to make paid family leave a reality. Almost every person will need this resource in their lifetime, and WGF is a key player in making this crucial support possible for all of our benefit!

Vanessa N T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Very informative and front facing organization, fighting for the rights of women and girls.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I love the The Women and Girls' Foundation's work. WGF has a unique opportunity for high school women to understand the political system and how to become a part of it. I have watched young women transform to passionate, cause oriented, strong women from the orientation weekend to graduation 9 months later. GirlGov is creating our female leaders of the future for sure. WGF works very hard on Femishpere. A plan to work with partners to help women, primarily single moms of our community get the services and programs they need to help manage and create successful lives through economic development and poverty reduction.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I love the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF)! They are breaking down barriers so that every girl can rise and every woman can soar. Which is so important, now more than ever.

As a Board Member, I can attest to the impact that WGF is making in the lives of women and girls throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

Our GirlGov program, which was created by teen women for teen women, provides local girls with the opportunity to learn firsthand about civics, government, philanthropy, community involvement, women’s history and leadership. For years, GirlGov has provided a safe space for hundreds of young women to learn how to exercise their voice and activate their agency in order to affect change.

Additionally, WGF challenges the Greater Pittsburgh region to become an ecosystem where women and girls thrive, by creating a ‘femisphere’ that centers on the lives of single mothers. Through the Femisphere initiative, WGF has worked with community organizations, advocates and local leaders to improve poverty rates for women and families.

Last year, WGF launched a Femisphere Hackathon that paired single mothers with teams of developers to create apps that re-imagined childcare solutions, carpooling and more. This innovative effort ensured that coders developed new technology with single mothers – not simply for them. Through this program, WGF advocated for women to not just have a seat at the table but to be decision-makers at the table too.

Lastly, WGF is leading the charge to make Paid Family and Medical Leave available and accessible to all Pennsylvanians and all employers through the Family Care Act Campaign.
All of these efforts are a testament to the great work that WGF is doing to advance women and girls in our region. WGF truly exemplifies what it means to be part of great nonprofit.

Our fearless CEO, Heather Arnet, has been leading this organization since its inception and it's an honor to support such great leadership.

Pictured are images from previous GirlGov and the Femisphere Codeswitch Hackathon events.

Donor

Rating: 5

WGF has been the non-profit that has had the most impact on my life so far. Not only is the team extremely passionate, kind, and dedicated, their programs are far-reaching and life-changing. I joined their GirlGov program in 2015, stayed with the program until I graduated from it, and have been a proud alum ever since. Speaking now as a senior at an all women's college getting ready to enter the "real world," I have felt the influence of the empowerment and support of WGF through every step of my academic and developmental life. I met a few of my best friends in GirlGov and have stayed connected to them for the past five years due to the depth of our convictions and all of the growth we have shared through WGF. My family has chosen to donate to WGF since I started in GirlGov, since it has been so rewarding to contribute to a cause so visible and important.

Beyond the incredible opportunities and lessons WGF afforded me, I also gained invaluable experience lobbying with GirlGov at the Pennsylvania capital. Having the chance to talk to legislators and be heard in my own right made me feel powerful and consequential, even at age 15. I have carried this confidence with me into my current life, and intend to carry it forward into my adult life. I also learned a lot of concrete knowledge about the legislative process and bill-drafting process which I have drawn upon often since. Heather, the leader of WGF, has been a titan in my life and has been not only a steadfast mentor but also a huge inspiration for many in our community. I can confidently say that WGF has made my life, and the lives of many others, infinitely better.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I joined the GirlGov group this year after hearing about it from previous members, and in the very first week I feel so at home. This group of individuals that are equipped to handle situations and nurture female growth in our society are some of the best I have ever met. I will forever be grateful for the experience I have had so far, and for the experiences we will have for the rest of the program.

Brittany H.7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

2016 girlgov alum here! I learned so much being involved with girlgov. I fell in love with politics and decided to pursue it as a college major and career after returning from my Harrisburg trip.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) is an organization committed to systemic change to improve the lives of women and girls. Its mission is breaking down barriers so that every girl can rise and every woman can soar. It works with other members in the city, county, and state to build coalitions seeking equity for ALL women. Just one example of this is its work on the PA Family Care Act. WGF and Pathways PA have led the charge to pass legislation for paid family leave for Pennsylvania's citizens. Since women are the primary caregivers for both children and their parents, The Family Care Act would have an enormous ripple effect and positively impacting families and communities throughout the state.

Another of WGF's initiatives is Femisphere which is challenging the region to think about what would have to happen for women and girls to flourish here. One example is based on the fact that single mothers and their children make up to 77% of people living in poverty in Pittsburgh. One seemingly simple solution might be to make sure job training facilities have quality child care and are located on bus lines. Once identified it seems obvious that this could make an enormous difference in tackling a systemic problem.

GirlGov is WGF's program to train the female leaders of tomorrow. Girls from around the region have an opportunity to learn everything from civics to government to philanthropy and community impact. WGF covers all costs for the girls' participation so that no one is excluded from this opportunity because of their economic circumstances. Fundamentally, GirlGov teaches girls that they can and need to advocate for themselves and the steps to do just that. Just one illustration is helping Sarah Pesi introduce legislation in PA to protect people from stalkers. Until Sarah's bill, people could only file protection from abuse orders from family members or from people with whom they were in a relationship. Sarah was being stalked by one of her athletic coaches and until she drew attention to this - with WGF's help - there was no recourse for her. Sarah's story and success is an inspiration for girls and women everywhere on the power they have to make change in the world.

WGF's change-making CEO is Heather Arnet. She is recognized as the go-to expert for insights on how policy and practices affect women and girls now and in the future. She is masterful in raising funds and leveraging the expertise of professionals - internally and externally - to work with WGF to implement its strategic plan. A true leader, she makes the most of every resource - both financial and human - to help people understand that when women and girls thrive, communities prosper.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with this organization for 15 years. They were doing the hard work of fighting systemic gender and racial inequality and injustice long before it became fashionable.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have a amazing time at the virtual coloring After this experience at the coloring party, I was so amazed by what girl gov does and want to get involved in some way

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The woman’s and girls foundation is an amazing organization and has help me understand policy through a different lense.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently attended a GirlGov organized peaceful protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. I love that this organization gives girls a platform to have their voices heard!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Women & Girls Foundation is a wonderful organization. I recently volunteered for their GirlGov program and had an opportunity to learn a lot of about the organization. The program is designed to provide local girls with the opportunity to learn, first hand, about government and social change philanthropy. The high school girls participating in the program shadowed a state legislator for the day to learn about current public policy issues impacting women’s and girls’ lives in our region. The girls also learned about grant-making and awarded $10,000 to local girl-led projects. I served as a chaperon for this program and it was truly an invaluable experience!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 3


The Women and Girls Foundation supported an education movement I was beginning with thousand of flood affected families . The organization was a dream to work with. The staff members were courteous, efficient, and helped us achieve our goals. I would recommend this organization to any group in the SW PA region that needed a partner in their efforts to help women and girls. WGF is a quality organization with dynamic leadership, creative vision, and effective implementation.

Jessica92

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I've worked with W&G as a volunteer and as a professional. In both cases W&G was very gracious, professional, and communicative.

Kathleen29

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Women and Girls Foundation supported an education movement I was beginning with hundreds of Pittsburgh Public School parents. The organization was a dream to work with. The staff members were courteous, efficient, and helped us achieve our goals. I would recommend this organization to any group in the SW PA region that needed a partner in their efforts to help women and girls. WGF is a quality organization with dynamic leadership, creative vision, and effective implementation.

Dan_19

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've interacted with the Women and Girls Foundation as part of their Girl Gov project. This extremely successful program introduces young women to politics by shadowing legislators for a day in the Capitol. This innovative and extraordinarily popular event draws up to 100 girls for each event. As important as the program is for the young women, an equal if not greater impact is made on the legislators they shadow. Issues that are sometimes lost in the shuffle of the legislative process resurface and get a refocused attention by the legislature. The WGF is a phenomenal organization that deserves your support.

Donor

Rating: 5

There isn't a week that goes by that I'm not inspired by something being done by the Women and Girls Foundation. This foundation has done an amazing job of advocating for equal pay, advocating for choice, advocating to raise awareness about domestic violence, working on violence in the workplace, inspiring women to serve on Boards, to be involved in government and the list goes on. The Women and Girls Foundation takes a leading role in bringing other foundations together in collaborations and to supporting partnering and cooperation among non-profits. One of the greatest things I admire is the Girl Gov program that has young girls learning about state government, shadowing state officials, meeting with representatives. I'm already pointing my nieces to that program when they get to the eligible age. This opportunity to learn leadership, advocacy and cooperation at a young age builds early leadership capacity and evokes an early passion to make the world a better place. Our community has been significantly enhanced by the Women and Girls Foundation.

Donor

Rating: 5

WGF does work that benefits everyone - girls, women, families, and the men/boys they are related to. They not only educate the public about inequities in our society but they fund those who are working to improve laws and representation. They remind us that while we would like to think we have reached equality among genders, it's important to strive for it in more parts of life.

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization with a meaningful cause of empowering girls and women to take accountability for their own decisions and lives.

Saily J.

Donor

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization that is so passionate about educating the public and empowering women and girls. I am proud to be a donor and attend their events.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a solid organization that helps empower girls to be hopeful about their future.

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization helps women and girls to empower themselves~the proverbial "teaching to fish" rather than handing a fish. I have been a donor since the organization first began and am thrilled to "reup" at a higher level each year as I see the increasing good that is being done, especially in our region (Western PA). All the staff are truly committed professionals who do not waste a dime in fulfilling their mission. There are innovative programs (e.g., Girl Gov) which truly teach girls and young women "how to fish". WGF is a superb organization!

Gina J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A few years ago, I served as an adult mentor for girls enrolled in the WGF sponsored "Social Change Agents" program for girls from Fayette, Greene, Westmoreland, and Allegheny Counties. Through my experience with the organization, I was afforded a wonderful opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with girls from my community as well as learn about advocacy, equal pay and other issues that affect women and girls. Since that experience, I've also applied for and received funding from WGF to support an advocacy program in Fayette County - www.myownfayette.org. The work that WGF does in our communities (southwestern PA region) is incomparable and necessary. I am so honored to be affiliated with this organization and I stand behind and hope to always walk with the WGF staff and board of directors!

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been donors to the Women and Girls Foundation since 2004. That first year they gave away $15,000 in grants to advance women's rights. Since that time they have invested over a million dollars in grants to advance women's rights. We have been amazed at their ability to activate thousands of women and girls - and supportive men and boys - in gender equality advocacy. In just a few years they have helped train hundreds of young women to be powerful advocates and they have helped pass twelve new laws positively impacting millions of women's lives and families for future generations. Sincerely, David Shumway and Heather Arnet