Backed by more than $100 million in initial funding commitments, the White House has announced a new public-private initiative aimed at improving the lives of women and girls of color.
Announced at an "Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color" forum hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls and the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, the pledges include a five-year, $100 million commitment from Prosperity Together, a coalition of U.S.-based public charities that invests in the economic security of women. With the funds, the initiative will support efforts to create pathways to prosperity for low-income women and their families, including job-training programs that address their cultural and educational needs; culturally appropriate and affordable child care for their children; and research to inform best practices and policies.
Research on such pathways will be supported by an additional commitment of $18 million — including $1.4 million in ongoing support for the Anna Julia Cooper Center's research on intersectionality, the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination — from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, a consortium of colleges, universities, research organizations, publishers, and public interest institutions led by Wake Forest.
In a progress report (23 pages, PDF) released as a follow-up to its 2014 report about the administration's efforts to help minority women and girls, the Council on Women and Girls identified five "data-driven" areas of focus for advancing equity for women and girls of color: fostering academic success and reducing unnecessary exclusionary school discipline; meeting the needs of vulnerable and striving youth; making STEM education more inclusive and enhancing pathways that engage underrepresented women in quality STEM programs; sustaining reduced teen pregnancy rates and ensuring that prevention programs reach high-need communities; and building economic prosperity through supportive policies such as tax credits, paid leave, federal contracting, and apprenticeship grant programs.
The announcement follows on the heels of a speech by President Obama to the Congressional Black Caucus in September, in which he spoke of the opportunity gaps and structural barriers women and girls of color continue to face. After the February 2014 launch of My Brother's Keeper, a White House initiative to expand opportunity and improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color, the Obama administration faced calls for the inclusion of girls and young women in its efforts.
"Women of color will constitute more than half of all women in the United States by 2050, but they are infrequently the central subjects of scholarly inquiry," said Wake Forest University provost Rogan Kersh. "This research deficit has meaningful consequences for the ways our institutions contribute to public discourse and policy making. As part of the collaborative, Wake Forest is proud to be among such a distinguished group of institutions that seeks to address this deficit."