Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) strives to create a philanthropic home for girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth of color, many of whom have been traditionally excluded from the philanthropy sector. A sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, G4GC was first founded as an online platform and funder network but has since grown into an expansive grantmaking organization.

Maheen Kaleem is vice president of operations and programs at G4GC and has previously served as a program officer at the NoVo Foundation and as a staff attorney at Rights4Girls. Kaleem spoke with RPA to explain the origins of G4GC and its evolution.

Please tell us about your journey. What drove you toward work focused on girls of color?  

I am a first-generation Pakistani American and grew up in a household that elevated and valued human rights and gender justice. My first job out of college involved working with trafficked youth in Oakland, many of whom were impacted by the juvenile and child welfare systems. That experience confirmed for me the power, resilience, and brilliance of girls of color, especially those who are system-involved. It also revealed to me how systems hide, quash, and silence that brilliance; the ways that we were failing young people; and the possibilities we were missing when we didn’t support them. This launched my trajectory into advocacy as a human rights lawyer working at the intersection of race, gender, and justice and figuring out ways to bring the brilliance, power, and wisdom of girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth of color into rooms and roles in which they’re traditionally excluded, including philanthropy.

How was G4GC conceived and how did it evolve from a funder network into a more expansive grantmaking organization?

G4GC was founded as a response to movements. Our work is undergirded by a deep belief that there is no social justice movement that doesn’t uniquely impact girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth of color and that they are leading on the frontlines of the movements for racial justice, gender justice, environmental and climate justice, housing justice, and more.

Initially, G4GC’s work focused on bringing young activists and girls into the room to speak to funders and to do research with grantee partners, young people, and folks in philanthropy. This research made clear to us that we needed to evolve into a more robust entity that not only talked to funders but also engaged actively with girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth of color to ensure that we were moving resources to them and to the movements and organizations that support them.

Read the full article about supporting girls of color at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.