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Empowered to Give: The Unstoppable Force of Female Philanthropists

Throughout history, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the world through their unwavering commitment to philanthropy. From championing education and healthcare initiatives to advocating for social justice and environmental causes, these remarkable individuals have dedicated their resources and influence to create a lasting impact. Their stories not only highlight the transformative power of giving but also serve as a testament to the profound difference one person can make in the lives of countless others.

Serena Williams: Serving On and Off the Court

Serena williams.
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Serena Williams isn’t just a tennis superstar; she’s also a philanthropic force to be reckoned with. Through the Serena Williams Fund, she supports various causes, including education, gender equality, and health initiatives. Williams’ advocacy for equal pay in sports has sparked crucial conversations and inspired positive change across industries. Through her venture capital investment fund Serena Ventures – she primarily focuses its investments on companies helmed by individuals from underrepresented communities, with a particular emphasis on sectors such as education, climate change technology, economic empowerment, and beyond.

Sarah Haacke Byrd

Sarah Haacke Byrd.
Image credit: Women Moving Millions.

Sarah Haacke Byrd is the CEO of Women Moving Millions, a foundation committed to advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls. With Byrd at the helm, Women Moving Millions has played a pivotal role in mobilizing substantial funding to support gender equity initiatives globally. By leveraging the collective resources and networks of its 400+ members, the foundation has made significant strides in addressing key issues such as women’s empowerment, education, healthcare, and economic independence. Byrd’s leadership has been instrumental in driving the organization’s mission forward, ensuring that women and girls everywhere have the support and resources they need to thrive and succeed. Through innovative strategies and partnerships, Women Moving Millions continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of women and girls around the world under Sarah Haacke Byrd’s guidance. In 2023 Women Moving Millions surpassed one billion dollars cumulatively mobilized for women and girls from their community. 

Angelina Jolie: A Champion for Refugees

Angelina Jolie.
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Angelina Jolie is not just a Hollywood icon; she’s also a passionate advocate for refugees worldwide. As a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Jolie has traveled to numerous conflict zones, raising awareness about the plight of displaced people. Through the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, she has donated millions to refugee relief efforts, providing aid to vulnerable communities.

Oprah Winfrey: Empowering Through Education

Oprah winfrey.
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Oprah Winfrey is synonymous with empowerment, and her philanthropic endeavors reflect this ethos. Through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, she has established scholarships for underprivileged students, enabling them to pursue higher education. Additionally, Winfrey has donated substantial sums to educational initiatives, believing in the transformative power of learning.

Dolly Parton: A Beacon of Hope

Dolly Parton.
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Dolly Parton may be renowned for her musical talents, but her charitable work is equally noteworthy. With initiatives like the Imagination Library, Parton has provided millions of books to children, promoting literacy from a young age. Moreover, her recent contributions to COVID-19 relief efforts, including funding vaccine research, highlight her commitment to helping those in need.

Sara Blakely

Image credit: Gillian Zoe Segal.

Sara Blakely, the founder of SPANX, is renowned for her philanthropic contributions. She pledged to donate half of her wealth through the Giving Pledge initiative in 2013. According to Forbes, as of 2022, Blakely has donated over $50 million to various causes. This includes a $5 million donation to support female entrepreneurs through the creation of the Sara Blakely Foundation. Additionally, she has contributed $1 million to the Red Backpack Fund, providing grants to female entrepreneurs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Blakely’s philanthropy underscores her commitment to empowering women and making a positive impact in their lives.

Beyoncé: Empowering Communities Through Education

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Beyoncé is not just a music icon; she’s also a philanthropist committed to empowering communities through education. Through initiatives like the BeyGOOD Foundation and the Formation Scholars Program, she provides scholarships and resources to students from marginalized backgrounds. Beyoncé’s focus on education equity and youth empowerment underscores her dedication to creating opportunities for future generations.

Rihanna: Championing Humanitarian Causes

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Rihanna is more than just a chart-topping musician; she’s also a passionate advocate for humanitarian causes. Through her Clara Lionel Foundation, named after her grandparents, she supports education, emergency response programs, and initiatives promoting arts and culture. Rihanna’s commitment to social justice and humanitarian aid has earned her widespread acclaim and inspired millions to take action for positive change.

David and Victoria Beckham: Helping Ukraine

The Beckhams.
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The power couple contributed £1 million to support aid to Ukraine through UNICEF, with David Beckham, an ambassador for the organization, actively promoting donations on social media. They also provided a platform for Iryna, the head of the Regional Perinatal Centre in Kharkiv, Ukraine, to share firsthand accounts of the crisis and the heroic efforts of healthcare workers on the ground.

Bethenny Frankel: BStrong

Bethany Frankel.
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The Real Housewives of New York City star’s nonprofit organization BStrong has raised an impressive $4 million in cash donations, supplementing the $10 million the organization previously pledged to support Ukraine. BStrong has been actively aiding Ukrainian refugees in relocating to Poland since February, providing them with essential crisis kits containing sleeping supplies, toiletries, food, water, and generators. The organization plans to sustain its assistance to Ukraine in the coming months and continues to accept donations.

Pam Omidyar

Pam Omidyar.
Photo credit: The Omidyar Network

Pam Omidyar, and her husband and Pierre, have been deeply involved in philanthropy for more than two decades. They established the Omidyar Network in 2004, one of the early adopters of the LLC model. The network is recognized for its focus on journalism, civic engagement, and tech reform, aiming to “reimagine capitalism.” Pam’s efforts center around Humanity United, an arm of Omidyar Network addressing global issues like peacebuilding and combating forced labor and human trafficking.

Lisa Hamilton

Lisa Hamilton.
Photo credit: The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Lisa Hamilton, serving as the President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Board Chair of Living Cities, is recognized for her efforts in promoting Casey’s mission for the betterment of America’s children and families. Under her leadership, the foundation shifted focus to the U.S. South and adopted equity-centered strategies to address the needs of communities of color. In 2022, the foundation gave out almost $145 million in charitable disbursements. 

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher: Homeland Connection

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.
Image credit Kathy Hutchins via Shutterstock.

The couple initiated a GoFundMe campaign for Ukraine with a generous initial $3 million donation. Since its inception, the fundraiser has amassed over $18 million. In a heartfelt video, Kunis, who hails from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, expressed her pride in her heritage. Kutcher emphasized the urgency of their fundraising efforts, highlighting the immediate impact it will have on providing essential aid to refugees. The raised funds will aid vacation rental company Airbnb in offering housing to Ukrainian refugees in collaboration with freight company Flexport, which will facilitate the shipment of supplies to those in need.

Susan Pritzker

Susan Pritzker.
Photo credit: Women’s Foundation California.

Susan Pritzker, together with her family, has been instrumental in shaping the Libra Foundation since its establishment in 2006. Their influence in progressive philanthropy has been increasingly noticeable, especially in collaborative efforts like the Democracy Frontlines Fund. According to reports from Inside Philanthropy, Susan Pritzker and her family have donated significant sums to support various causes. For instance, they contributed $5 million to establish the Kataly Foundation (for which her daughter works), which focuses on social justice and environmental sustainability. Additionally, Susan Pritzker’s active involvement on the boards of organizations such as Solidaire, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Chicago Foundation highlights her dedication to advancing social causes and supporting community development efforts.

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wójcicki.
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Anne Wojcicki, known as the president and chair of The Anne Wojcicki Foundation, has been gradually increasing her influence in philanthropy. Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe in 2006 after a decade spent in healthcare investing, focused primarily on biotechnology companies. Her foundation’s grantmaking has risen, allocating at least $20 million annually to various causes, including research, healthcare, refugee support, and youth services. Anne, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2022, indicates a commitment to expanding her foundation’s activities. Her sister, Susan Wojcicki, former CEO of YouTube, has also joined the ranks of rising philanthropists by signing the Giving Pledge.

Inspiring Change Through Generosity

Hands holding a heart. Giving. Philanthropy.
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These philanthropists showcase the power of using one’s platform for good. Through their tireless efforts and generous contributions, they have touched countless lives and inspired others to join the fight for a better world. As we celebrate their accomplishments, let us also reflect on the impact each of us can make, no matter how big or small.

Women Around The World Are Opting Out Of Marriage

Three older women outside in a courtyard amongst suburban houses.
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In a world where traditional norms are constantly evolving, the institution of marriage is undergoing significant scrutiny, particularly among women. Dinah Hannaford, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Houston, delves deep into the reasons behind this societal shift, offering fresh insights into why women around the world are choosing to opt out of marriage. Read: Women Around The World Are Opting Out Of Marriage

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  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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