Women’s Foundation of Mississippi

Tracy DeVries
Executive Director
Women’s Foundation of Mississippi

The mission of Women’s Foundation of Mississippi is economic security for women, where we say: “When Women Thrive, Mississippi Thrives.” The organization started as a fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson in 1999 with the support and leadership of a dedicated group of women – joining other Women’s Foundations across the country and around the world in connecting resources in philanthropy with the backbone of our communities: women and girls. More than 20 years later, we operate our own 501c3. Our primary work is grantmaking and strategic projects that meet our mission. We are the only Grantmaker in the state entirely focused on women and girls. In 2021 we awarded more than $680,000 in grants across the state in our focus areas: Access to Opportunity, Healthy Women, and Two-Generation – Better Futures. In response to the pandemic in April 2020, we quickly raised new funds from generous donors and provided nearly $170,000 in Rapid Response mini-grants that helped organizations serving women and girls.

Those mini-grants assisted with unanticipated needs such as childcare, women’s healthcare, emergency funds, food, hygiene products, and technology. As the world went virtual for work and education, the Women’s Foundation was able to help close the gaps. As a public foundation, we raise funds every year and can make these kinds of investments because we combine resources from donors who have prioritized women and girls.

We use research to inform our work. One study from 2015 showed that it took an average of seven years to complete a two-year degree. We have been working with community colleges to decrease barriers and increase graduation rates through our Access to Opportunity focus ever since.

In 2021 we launched a new program based on the success of this long-standing program: Graduating a Healthcare Workforce. To help address the nursing shortage in the state, we piloted a project on six two-year and one four-year campus to focus specifically on eliminating barriers for students seeking nursing and other healthcare-related degrees. For us, this is a win-win. We can help individual students graduate and secure work with a livable wage while also bolstering the state’s healthcare infrastructure over the long term.

Over the last five years, we have added unique programs that support and lift up the voices of women, including our annual Thrive@Work event focused on positive workplace policies for women, our Mississippi Women’s Policy Institute Fellowship Program, and the upcoming April 1, 2022, She’s on Board training seminar. In 2021 we supported a new podcast series with host Rita Brent called Raised in the Sipp to amplify stories of Mississippi women making a difference. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we invite you to join us in recognizing and investing in the women who are making Mississippi thrive.

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