Up Next

Get Lifted

Peter Buffett reveals $90 million plan to help young women and girls of color in the U.S.

The grant-making strategy will focus on highlighting everyday issues girls of color face

Peter Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, is taking a page from his father’s philanthropic playbook and using it to focus on girls and young women of color in the United States.

On April 13, Buffett and his wife, Jennifer, unveiled a seven-year, $90 million strategy through the couple’s NoVo Foundation, a philanthropy-based organization created in 2006 to catalyze a transformation in global society, that will “support efforts defined and driven by girls and women of color to address the deep systemic, societal, and institutional challenges girls face.” This strategy is the largest commitment ever made by a private foundation to address issues facing girls and young women of color, according to the press release.

“We believe that girls of color are experts in their own lives and wield immense power to transform their communities and the country,” Jennifer and Peter Buffett said in a statement.

“We are excited to partner directly with girls of color and their advocates so that they can live in safety and peace, dream and imagine all the possibilities of their futures, access all that’s necessary to live in dignity and fulfill their dreams, and feel celebrated and seen through love and connection.”

The idea to focus on girls of color originally rolled out last March. The Buffetts, along with NoVo Foundation representatives, spent the year talking to advocates, movement leaders and community organizers, and listening to the thoughts and concerns of girls of color across the country to get a better understanding of their needs. These conversations led to the grant-making strategy that primarily concentrates on building partnerships with existing groups for young women and girls of color. The strategy is set to provide flexible funding to community-based organizations; partner with regional grant-making, movement-building infrastructures; and invest in select national efforts dedicated to changing harmful narratives and shifting negative systems surrounding girls of color.

In November 2015, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a report, Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color, that took an in-depth look into the challenges women of color face in areas including education, work and family life. According to the statistics, black girls are suspended at higher rates in school (12 percent), and African-American girls are detained and committed at higher rates (32 percent) while representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population. Of the 73 million women in the U.S. labor force, 24.8 million are women of color. Black women face the highest rate of unemployment in longer periods compared with Latina, Asian and White women. Taking a look into the home lives of girls of color revealed that black and Latina girls are still more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant during adolescence, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Through research and conversations with young women and girls of color, representatives also learned that issues such as sexual violence, anti-black racism and solidarity building are often overlooked or receive little to no investment from philanthropic organizations. The NoVo Foundation is aiming to curb this trend.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.