Michigan Women Forward

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Organization stands as an advocate and fighter for change

In an age where women are making strides professionally, socially and economically, Michigan Women Forward is the perfect organization to set an example for future philanthropy inspired by the power of women. 

Michigan Women Forward began in 1986, thanks to Mary Jo Pulte and her recognition of the lack of philanthropic funding to organizations driven to aid women. The foundation’s official site states its mission is “to accelerate Michigan’s progress by advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls.” Leading by example, it drives that statement home and then some.

#WOMANUP covers the organization’s first pillar and the fact that women receive 10 percent less funding than men do. That percentage drops even further for women of color. Therefore, Michigan Women Forward wants to set women up for success and provide them with a network of support via the many supporters who are willing to give back. Jennifer Pappas, Michigan Women Forward director of external engagement, said, “Many of these women who come to us don’t have the access that you or I may.” 

The philanthropic foundation created a micro-loan fund to aid women. When individuals donate, they may specify what they are passionate in supporting. That can mean leadership programs, seminars specific to science, technology engineering and math (STEM) topics or the overall mission of Michigan Women Forward.

Its programs also include #UGOGirls, which encapsulates the second of the organization’s three pillars and focuses on developing Michigan’s next generation of women leaders. Pappas said the #UGOGirls programs “focus on high-value careers like STEM careers,” and she added that entrepreneurship is also covered. These women who will one day change the world are given the necessary tools to learn qualities like communication, leadership and collaboration.  

Not only does Michigan Women Forward establish an outlet for aspiring women, but it also has helped in the prosecution of sexual offenders through a program called Enough SAID. Michigan Women Forward’s website details its unending work with the Detroit Crime Commission and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to fund the testing of over 11,000 untested rape kits found in the Detroit Police Department. The project began 10 years ago, and Pappas said that the effort has made waves of progress. 

“As of March of 2018, we are really proud to share that all 11,341 rape kits have been tested,” Pappas said. “We’ve also raised enough funds to fund the cold-case unit. … It’s one thing to have them tested, and another for there to be detectives and staffing to actually investigate these crimes.”

The program has resulted in over 130 convictions and nearly 2,200 investigations. Needless to say, Michigan Women Forward is an advocate for survivors and the justice they deserve. 

Keep up with Michigan Women Forward at miwf.org as well as on Facebook and Instagram.