In an audacious move, the Women’s Foundation of Alabama has unveiled its ambitious Watershed Campaign, aiming to raise $7.5 million. This strategic fundraising endeavor serves as a stepping stone towards historic investments, with the bold objective of propelling over 10,000 women into the workforce, thereby fostering their economic mobility.
Alabama, grappling with a critical shortage in its labor force participation rate and the alarming absence of 80,000 women from its workforce, sees this campaign as a vital key to unlocking economic opportunities for women. The Watershed Campaign is poised to unleash the full potential of Alabama’s workforce, which could boost the state’s economy by an impressive $12 billion, simultaneously creating nearly 33,000 job opportunities.
“The time is now for state leaders to break the dams holding women back for far too long. This is Alabama’s watershed moment — a moment representing a turning point in how people act or think about something. This campaign will be the catalyst for change. On behalf of women across the state, we call on philanthropy, business, and government to join this movement to think big, play big, and invest big in the exponential power and potential of women and families,” states Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW, Women’s Foundation of Alabama president and CEO.
The foundation’s call to action extends beyond immediate economic participation. It envisions a future where women are unimpeded in their contributions to the economy, leveraging their skills, talents, and hard work for the collective prosperity of Alabama.
The Watershed Campaign’s ambitious goal to introduce 10,000 women to the workforce by 2027 mirrors the foundation’s dynamic approach that intertwines transformative grantmaking, insightful research, and strategic advocacy. This approach aligns seamlessly with the efforts of the government, philanthropic entities, and community leaders.
“Alabama won’t win until our women do. There’s no organization working harder to make that happen than Women’s Foundation of Alabama,” said Quentin Riggins, Alabama Power Senior Vice President of Governmental and Corporate Affairs and co-chair of the Watershed Campaign. “As a leader in Alabama’s business community, I want women to have every opportunity to thrive in our state. The state cannot move forward unless we are working together to create an equal path for all Alabamians to succeed.”
Central to the Watershed Campaign is The Essential Plan, a comprehensive advocacy strategy designed to fundamentally alter the economic landscape for women through evidence-based policy reforms and community engagement. This plan boldly calls on state leaders to invest $250 million over the next four years to enhance women’s economic prospects, opportunities, and retention in quality jobs.
By supporting women-centric solutions and advocating for comprehensive policy changes through the Essential Plan, the Alabama Legislature has the opportunity to not only facilitate the entry of 10,000 women into the workforce but also to foster sustainable economic conditions for all women in Alabama.
Until these policy priorities are realized, the Women’s Foundation of Alabama will align their grantmaking with these efforts, expanding their portfolio to include catalytic initiatives, collaboratives, and targeted grants. These grants are designed to streamline women’s access to essential resources and opportunities, thereby contributing to a thriving economy. This effort includes tripling investments in community organizations tackling key economic barriers like childcare, healthcare, and paid leave, thus reinforcing and increasing funding to crucial partners like community colleges and job training providers.
“It’s time for real change. Alabama can not win with just band-aid solutions. Women’s Foundation of Alabama understands that and gathers partners who can provide wraparound services, such as child care and mentoring, with educational and job opportunities. This foundation is changing lives—that is what keeps me at the table. The launch of this campaign represents a new opportunity for every Alabamian to join in and make a difference,” said Dr. Nancy Dunlap Johns, University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor Emeritus and co-chair of the Watershed Campaign.
The foundation, with continued support from philanthropists, officials, volunteers, and donors, has refined its strategies and impacts across Alabama. Drawing from nearly three decades of experience, these insights are now poised for broader application. The Watershed Campaign symbolizes a transformative era for women and Alabama’s economy. Contributions to this groundbreaking initiative can be made at here.
Since 1996, the Women’s Foundation of Alabama has been a leading voice and philanthropic force for women in the state, advocating for gender and economic equity. Renowned in the philanthropic sector, the foundation has strategically expanded its influence beyond Birmingham and philanthropy, effecting systemic change through groundbreaking research and legislative advocacy.