Women of Color in Philanthropy

As a philanthropic leader working to create a just, equitable and sustainable world, you are invited to the Standing in Our Power (SiOP) 2016 Women of Color* in Philanthropy Retreat, which is designed to support trans and cisgender women of color, and gender non-conforming people of color, to become increasingly powerful and effective social justice philanthropists. The retreat will be held at The Watershed Center in Millerton, NY, October 27-30, 2016. 

Apply Today – applications and inquires accepted a rolling basis.  Please contact us at siop(at)spiritinaction(at)net.

We live in a time that compels us to grapple with violence, inequality, oppression and injustice while also staying grounded and focused on the vision of the world we want to create.  Since June alone we’ve witnessed:  a tragic massacre in Orlando FL fueled by hate; disappointment in the Supreme Court 4-4 ruling in regards to the implementation of President Obama’s immigrant relief program; continuous state sanctioned violence on Black lives; increased hate and violence; and more.  We’ve also seen some wins such as the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s rights to abortions and promotes reproductive justice, and witness protests and growing movements for social justice.  As we toggle between grief and hope, it is vital for those of us actively working for change to invest in our own leadership development, especially a transformational approach that allows us to simultaneously engage in healing, visioning and action planning.

SiOP is an intergenerational network of social justice movement makers who identify as women of color. Our leadership development and capacity building model radically redefines the status quo and ignites personal, structural and cultural liberation. Read More about SiOP or check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

As women and gender nonconforming people of color in philanthropy, we are at once bridge-builders and gatekeepers. We have tremendous potential to leverage our access to lift up our communities and advance social justice, especially when we can break through the potential silence and isolation of the sector.

*In the context of our work, the term ‘women of color” refers to transgender and cisgender women of color, and gender non-conforming people of color.  We recognize that this term is not ideal and we aim to work with new participants and our alums on finding better ways to create inclusive language to reflect the full range of people with whom we work.


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Standing in solidarity with victims of the  massacre in Orlando, Carly Hare of Change Philanthropy boldly declares that “foundation leaders should use their power to speak out on issues of racism and homophobia and invest in healing and leadership development.” We add sexism, classism, xenophobia and more to this list as we create a space to end oppression in all its forms and build a more just, equitable and peaceful world.

Research by Talent Philanthropy lifts up  that “people are the primary asset that drives performance in the social sector, but that despite their importance they are under-supported.” We believe this lack of support is especially true for trans and cisgender women of color and gender nonconforming people of color.  Talent Philanthropy goes on to note that funders could make major strides in their own effectiveness and in the performance of their grantees by investing in nonprofit talent. “Such support could build a critical mass of diverse leadership in society and dramatically improve the ability of the social sector to advance social change.”

This retreat is a time to center your personal wellness, empowerment and sustainability as you dream big and imagine innovative, powerful ways for philanthropy to increase financial and capacity building support for those who stand at the intersection of multiple oppression. 

Participation in SiOP’s Women of Color in Philanthropy 2016 Cohort is an opportunity for personal and collective healing from the stress and trauma we experience in the field of philanthropy, as well as, in our day-to-day lives and our communities.  In a safe space, during the retreat participants will:

  • Experience the SiOP proven model of transformational leadership development;
  • Engage in healing from internalized and institutional oppression and trauma;
  • Practice culturally-based ways to create healthier working environments; and,
  • Bring forth your most powerful and authentic self.

Cohort Objective: For participants to evolve a collective vision and strategic action plan that increases their influence and impact within social justice philanthropy.

Retreat Goal: For participants to gain and share awareness, practices and connections for greater collective power and greater results from social justice philanthropy without sacrificing personal wellness, power, and sustainability.

Desired Impact:  As a result of the retreat and post-retreat follow-up, participants lead with a powerful vision and plan to move a social justice philanthropic agenda that benefits all across the gender spectrum.

How will we know impact is taking place?

Women of color and gender nonconforming people of color in philanthropy, will:

  • Engage in transformative leadership development that fosters wellness, empowerment and sustainability personally and professionally.
  • Articulate a shared framework which links intersecting oppression and results in increased funding for all who identify as women,girls and gender nonconforming people of color.
  • Explore ways to strengthen grantmaking, donor organizing and capacity building strategies by integrating transformative leadership development.

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If you identify as a trans or cisgender woman of color, or gender nonconforming person of color in philanthropy (individual donor, working at a philanthropic institution, donor organizer, consultant/advisor to a foundation/fund, etc.), we invite you to apply today.

Program Funding, Costs and Fees: Standing in Our Power is a program of Spirit in Action, a national movement building organization, and is currently supported by generous individual donors, program registration fees and sponsorships. The cost per participant for the retreat is $3,500 which includes retreat expenses (lodging/food/program materials), and staff/consultant time. Based on your organizational budget or income/net worth (as applicable), please review the sliding scale on the application to determine your registration fee.

We do not want to turn anyone away due to funds and have a limited amount of scholarships available based on request and need. We encourage you to seek sponsorship from your organization or to launch your own crowdfunding campaign to support you to take part in this unique opportunity. If you are able, we invite you to consider supporting another participant by making a donation or sponsoring the retreat. More details are on the application form.

After the National Retreat: At the end of the retreat, participants will create a roadmap forward and work with our leadership team to determine what supports they need. This may include individual or group coaching, collaborative projects, capacity building support, webinars, workshops, etc.  We will work together to identify what is most needed to support you in deepening your practice as transformational leaders.


Apply today to be part of this unique opportunity. Applications are due on August 8.