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Women are more than half the population, yet—even with the progress of the last 40 years—they don’t have equal opportunity, voice or power. The Ms. Foundation for Women does not accept the status quo. The tough challenges we face as a nation—poverty, violence and injustice—cannot be solved without the full participation and leadership of women. We invest in the social justice trailblazers—especially women from the low-income communities and communities of color most affected by these problems—who have the vision and drive to fight for justice.

Every day, we help over 150 grassroots organizations nationwide fight for changes like good paying jobs, reproductive health, ending violence against women and girls and the inclusion of women at decision-making tables. The Ms. Foundation has invested over $50 million and influenced other funders to support solutions from the ground up. We deliver funding, build skills and connect activists with allies to create change that benefits women, families and communities. Together, we work for a nation in which power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, or any other factor.

In 1972, Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Marlo Thomas founded the country’s first women’s fund, the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Established at the height of the feminist movement, the Ms. Foundation was created to do something unheard of at the time: to deliver funding and other strategic resources to organizations that were elevating women’s voices and solutions across race and class in communities nationwide. Our founding mothers believed strongly in women’s collective power to ignite change. They also knew that women who faced discrimination and inequity in their own lives had the wisdom and expertise to advance social change that would benefit everyone. Together, they began an organization that would seed and strengthen women’s grassroots organizing around the country and strive to create a vibrant, inclusive feminist movement in which everyone’s voice was visible, valued and heard—a movement to thrive for generations to come.

Over 35 years ago, in a small office in New York City, the Ms. Foundation was started with proceeds from Ms. Magazine and royalties from the multimedia concept Free To Be... You And Me. In 1976, Ms. Foundation grants totaled $87,175. Gradually, with the visionary and generous support of numerous individuals, foundations and corporations, we grew into an organization that today delivers over $4 million in grants each year. In 1986 we established an endowment; by December 2009 it stood at nearly $24 million.