Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona Changes Name, Expands Reach

The Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona has announced that it has changed its name to the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona and will expand the scope of its work to more formally include women and girls throughout the state. 

The foundation began in 1991 as a scholarship fund for women in Southern Arizona. Over a 30-year history, it has evolved into an organization known beyond Southern Arizona, including at the State Capitol, to tackle inequities through its integrated framework of research, advocacy, grantmaking and leadership development.   

WFSA uses a two-generation (commonly known as 2Gen) approach to address economic issues and create systemic change for women and their families. Most recently, through research that identified childcare access and affordability as barriers to the economic self-sufficiency of single mothers, WFSA created a pilot program and simultaneously passed legislation that benefits parents across the state.     

“Decades of experience and proven positive outcomes make us qualified to add the State as a whole to our focus so we can achieve a greater impact,” said WFSA CEO Amalia Luxardo. “Our research and legislative advocacy work have included and benefited the state for several years. We feel that at this moment in time – after watching the pandemic destroy decades of momentum for women in mere months – it is essential that we scale the rest of our work to impact women and girls across Arizona.”   
 

Community-Centered Approach   

Luxardo and her team recognize the complex ecosystem of people, organizations, institutions and communities within Arizona. WFSA acknowledges that relationship-building is crucial to address issues on a larger scale and with a statewide network.  

“At the heart of relationship building is listening. We operate from a place of inclusion, respect, and humility. We recognize that communities know what they need and that there are underserved and marginalized populations whose voices will inform us of the best next steps.”  

WFSA has hired an Arizona-based research firm, NuPOINT Marketing, to implement a survey that will measure issues and priorities affecting women and girls.   

The survey, which launched on Oct. 4 with the purpose of learning more about the issues facing women and girls in the state, will help identify opportunities for future legislative policy, grants and pilot programs.  A public reporting of survey results will be available in December.  

The survey also kicks off a statewide listening tour where the foundation’s team will visit all 15 counties both in person and virtually.  Learning from both the survey and face-to-face conversations will inform the strategy and priorities for WFSA’s legislative advocacy and research priorities.   

An Evolution in Brand and Method  

WFSA has recently launched its first statewide grant which applies the community-centered principles of the listening tour. Announced in March, the Women & Girls of Color Fund is Arizona’s first grant dedicated to organizations led by and serving women and girls of color.   

The lack of funding dedicated to these marginalized communities is not unique to Arizona, with less than 1.6% percent of U.S. philanthropic dollars supporting women, and just 0.5% going to nonprofits that serve women and girls of color.  

“The foundation’s evolution reflects the increased capacity and unique approach to achieving our mission,” said WFSA Board Chair Gabriela Cervantes, an experienced marketing professional. “The name change signifies the expansion of WFSA’s geographical footprint and philanthropic vision,  and the new logo visually depicts diversity, growth and collaboration.”  
 
With a demonstrated history of successful outcomes, Luxardo shared that WFSA’s next iteration is equipped to tackle complex and difficult barriers facing Arizona women.  
 
“We have been at the forefront of systemic change and the time is now to build a state where women and girls of all identities thrive in Arizona,” she said.

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