Supporting Social Entrepreneurs

By Jamie Allen Black, CEO, Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York

When Tamar Menasseh grew frustrated with the gun violence ripping apart her neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside, she did not pack up and move. Instead, she pitched a lawn chair, set up a bar-b-que, and invited neighbors to join her for a meal. After her model of community gatherings helped to lower tensions it evolved into Mothers Against Senseless Killings, which has outposts in several states, including on Staten Island, N.Y.

The sexual assaults Evie Litwok witnessed as an inmate in two federal prisons gave her purpose upon her release. Today, Litwok runs Witness to Mass Incarceration, an organization that was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate sexual violence against incarcerated LBQT+ women and provides people just released from prison with suitcases filled with basic supplies to help them get started on the outside.

While we can only speculate about whether the world would be a better place if women were in charge, what is clear is that many women are adept at turning their personal experiences into unique professional ventures. Based on our 20-plus years of experience funding women-led organizations, The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York knows that not only could women solve some of the most intractable problems around the globe, but that more attention – and funds – must be designated to make these efforts successful.