Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership


Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership (Cultivate) is a joint effort of the Crossroads Fund, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), Woods Fund Chicago, Walder Foundation, and the Chicago Community Trust. This program is limited to grantees of those foundations.

Cultivate seeks to build a cadre of emerging women of color leaders engaged in social, economic, and racial justice movements and whose collective voice and power can be leveraged to realize a shared vision of the Chicago region’s future. By bringing together women who lead intersecting but separate justice efforts--gender and racial equity, labor rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights, among others--Cultivate aims to transform these movements from the inside, fortify relationships among participants, and foster collaborations across organizations to advance a shared vision towards equity and justice for all. Cultivate supports the personal and professional development needs of each participant.

The foundation partners hope that this work will build the institutions in which these women work by cultivating an intentional gender and racial equity lens and lead to the development of other women leaders within their organizations, especially at the community level.

Read Cultivating Leadership: An Evaluation of the Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership Program


Towards this vision, Cultivate has five (5) major goals:

  • Goal 1: Support the personal and professional development of women of color leaders.
  • Goal 2: Develop a framework that intentionally and explicitly incorporates race and gender in the participants’ leadership and professional development.
  • Goal 3: Build a safe and healthy space for women of color to discuss and learn about alternative models of leadership development, organization building, community organizing and movement building.
  • Goal 4: Advance the sustainability and longevity of individual women of color leadership while enabling a pipeline for new leaders to emerge within grassroots community organizations.
  • Goal 5: Nurture relationships to create a learning community across organizations and fields of work.

Cultivate is a one-year commitment in which participants will attend an orientation and 6 (six) bimonthly sessions that will focus on meeting the project goals.  In addition, participants will participate in ten hours with a personal Executive Coach (at their convenience) to build on the bimonthly sessions.  Sessions will focus on leadership development, capacity building and movement building.


The Application for Cultivate is Now Open



If you meet the outlined criteria, please complete your application by filling out this form by October 27, 2021. Applicants will be notified of decisions by November 16, 2021.

If you have any questions about Cultivate or the application process, please contact your foundation representative: 

Maritza Bandera - Chicago Community Trust: 
Marline Johnson - Chicago Foundation for Women:
Lizette Garza - Crossroads Fund: 
Irene Juaniza - Woods Fund Chicago:
Alma Rodriguez - Walder Foundation: