Steelcase Foundation announces Women’s Resource Center partnership

In a strategic move toward community-centric philanthropy, the Steelcase Foundation is partnering with the Women’s Resource Center for the newly announced $10-million, 10-year Investment in Families Initiative and hiring a coordinator for the initiative.

“The Women’s Resource Center mission, values, and approach to the work and to serving our community is perfectly aligned for offering additional support to Investment in Families cohort,” said Stacy Stout, director of Family-Centered Philanthropy at the Steelcase Foundation. “In addition to their knowledge and expertise partnering with and advocating for women, their commitment to transformative change is vital to the success of this initiative.”

The Women’s Resource Center, recognized for its culturally responsive programming and accessible location, will play a pivotal role as the host organization and employer of record for the IIF coordinator. This full-time position will serve as a coach, systems navigator, and strategic thought partner to the cohort of mothers to help them identify and achieve their self-determined goals, as well as coordinate inclusive and transformational cohort gatherings, collect and help analyze data, share insights, and work as part of the overall IIF team to process learning, support the mothers, and change behaviors of systems that impact families. This position is strategically embedded within the Women’s Resource Center staff to connect the cohort to the Center’s programming and support as well.

“When the Steelcase Foundation approached the Women’s Resource Center about the opportunity to collaborate on the Investment in Families Initiative, we were immediately excited about the prospect of making lasting impact on the systems that support the women we work with and their families,” said Tatum Hawkins, current co-lead and director of development and communications at the Women’s Resource Center. “This initiative aligns with our shared commitment to achieving equitable social justice outcomes and we look forward to working closely with the Steelcase Foundation and cohort.”

This initiative, coupled with a research partnership with DataWise Consulting, LLC, seeks to reimagine family support and the systems currently in place. At the center of the initiative will be a cohort of West Michigan Black and Latina mothers who will guide system and policy changes designed to improve the well-being of families. The cohort will consist of 30 Kent County families with children aged 12 and under to follow and study how systems and policies impact families.

The Investment in Families Initiative, with its focus on disrupting and improving systems that currently harm mothers and families, aims to gather evidence, produce outcomes, and generate insights with far-reaching implications for families everywhere. The Steelcase Foundation hopes to glean insights about community-based giving, policy development, and family support to share with policy makers and the broader philanthropic community to achieve better outcomes in communities everywhere. The initiative will look at how family goals change over time, what structures need to be put in place to assist in achievement of those goals, and how policies, which are all too often changing and transient, can best aid and help families grow and flourish.

DataWise Consulting was selected as the research and evaluation partner for the Investment in Families Initiative because of the quality of their data collection, analysis, and visualization services; understanding of philanthropy and systems; and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. DataWise has long been a trusted local partner for many equity-focused organizations, including Kent County’s Welcome Plan for New Americans, conducted in cooperation with the Gateways for Growth initiative of Welcoming America.

Individuals interested in applying for the new coordinator position can learn more and apply for the posting at www.grwrc.org/careers. Applications are due by February 28, 2024.