In the fight against COVID-19’s effects on Alabamians and the economy, the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham has created ROAR (Rapid Operating and Relief), an emergency fund to help at-risk childcare centers that serve essential workers.
The Women’s Fund is Alabama’s only foundation that aims its resources at gender equality.
“We are having to adapt to a new normal, but we are still most concerned with our response in the community,”said Kim Cochran, vice president of External Affairs with the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham (WFGB). “This pandemic has only highlighted the critical need for health care and childcare across the state. ROAR is our response to the COVID-19 health crisis. We started this fund to help women and target grants for childcare services.”
The WFGB gets support from people and organizations such as the Alabama Power Foundation.
“We target our grant-making to organizations that create pathways to economic opportunity for women,” Cochran said. “We know that only 1.6% of giving is targeted toward women and girls. There is a significant data gap on women, and through advocacy, we understand that philanthropy alone isn’t enough.”
The cumulative effects of COVID-19 on women remain to be seen, but the folks at WFGB are not just waiting; they are initiating.
“All of the barriers that women face, combined with this COVID-19 pandemic, are compounding the issues women already face,” Cochran said. “We are incredibly thankful for the Alabama Power Foundation. They have helped us produce research and have launched two collaboratives dealing with entire families. It’s far more than funding; we are grateful for their partnership and thankful to have a seat at the table when dealing with these issues.”
The COVID-19 health crisis adds to the success of the WFGB mission.
“We can help shape the public debate about issues that affect our mission — issues like access to health care and Medicare expansion,” Cochran said. “Alabama has the second-highest rate of maternal mortality in the country.”
Cochran and her team have amped up efforts to fight COVID-19, and they are getting things done. The pandemic has strengthened their resolve to help women.
“We are all working remotely, but we have not missed a beat in keeping the work going for women, and that’s what’s most important for our staff,” she said. “When women move forward, communities move forward. For me, personally as a mom, I love that saying because I have lived it. I believe women can move entire communities forward.”
For more information, visit www.womensfundbirmingham.org.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].