“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama
In honor of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8, we highlight eight NYC-based nonprofit organizations run by and for women and trans folks. These organizations tackle systemic problems of racism, poverty, sexism under the leadership of innovative, risk-taking women committed to justice.
As “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde states, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” With the rise in protests against systemic oppression in 2020 and 2021, we chose to primarily highlight nonprofits here that center an intersectional approach to supporting women’s rights.
Wondering how you can advance gender, social, racial, and economic justice? Keep reading below for opportunities to volunteer with kick-ass organizations and leaders locally.
Custom Collaborative is a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program that trains and supports women from low-income and immigrant communities to launch fashion careers and businesses. In addition to serving the underinvested (e.g., 85% of students are mothers and 80% live in poverty), Custom Collaborative encourages environmental sustainability. Support for Custom Collaborative creates work and businesses for low-income women. You can help participants professionalize their skills, obtain experience, and start new careers as artisans and entrepreneurs by signing up to get involved. Custom Collaborative offers volunteer opportunities for individuals and employee partners.
Girls Write Now
The nationally award-winning nonprofit Girls Write Now has broken down the barriers of gender, race, age, and poverty, elevating the voices of writers who are too often not heard over its 20+ year history. Serving a culturally and educationally diverse community of girls and gender non-conforming youth— 90% of color, 90% high need, 75% immigrant or first-generation, and 25% LGBTQ+/gender non-conforming—Girls Write Now mentors underserved young women to find their voices through the power of writing and community. Volunteers can serve as guest artists, wellness advisors, editorial committee members, and diversity committee members.
The Lower Eastside Girls Club
Lower Eastside Girls Club connects girls and young women to healthy and successful futures. Their 35,000 sq ft state-of-the-art community center offers a safe haven with programs in the arts, sciences, leadership, entrepreneurship, and wellness for girls in middle school and high school. A team of women workers, mothers, artists, educators, scientists, business owners, and activists established the Club in 1996, creating a new model that reframed the field of youth development as a whole community issue. Support these incredible girls and young women by signing up for the newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Women in Need (WIN)
For more than three decades, Women in Need (WIN) provides safe housing and critical services to help homeless women and their children rebuild their lives and break the cycle of homelessness. Just last year, WIN served 9,200 people experiencing homelessness, including over 5,100 children. The organization uses a holistic approach by providing housing, childcare, education, life skills, and income building for their clients. Help families break the cycle of homelessness by making an in-kind contribution, volunteering with WIN kids, or exploring other ways to give.
MADRE advocates for women leaders who protect and provide for communities facing war and disaster by working alongside them to build skills, strengthen local organizations, advance progressive movements, and advocate for rights. Headed by Executive Director Yifat Susskind, MADRE has enabled thousands of local women’s rights activists across the world to recover from war, climate breakdown, and their aftermath. The organization creates concrete ways to support women and families by building lasting solutions to violence, poverty, militarism, and environmental degradation. You can help by hosting a speaker, volunteering in the office or remotely, and signing up for news and alerts.
Planned Parenthood of Greater NewYork
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York builds a world where all communities have full access to innovative, high-quality, affordable, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health services. The organization provides clinical health care, education, and advocacy. Joy D. Calloway, MHSA, MBA, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, is a fierce champion for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and education in Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and immigrant communities. Ways to get involved include becoming a donor, an activist, or volunteer.
Audre Lorde Project
The Audre Lorde Project is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education, and capacity-building, they seek community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Opportunities for involvement include becoming a member or joining the board of directors to work on the frontlines of community organizing. Also, check out their new opening to join the TransJustice Community School.
Women’s Sports Foundation
Run by World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee and entrepreneur Phaidra Knight, the Women’s Sports Foundation enables girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life. Annually, they inspire 100K+ girls across the country through 200 community partnerships. In addition, they conduct critical research on topics from benefits and barriers to elite participation in women’s sports. Get involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation by submitting a volunteer form, sharing your story, attending a virtual event, or taking a pledge to support equitable access to sports.
Take action today and sign up to volunteer for a woman-led nonprofit in your community. Please note that volunteer opportunities may change during COVID-19 restrictions. Looking for a different type of volunteer opportunity than listed above? If so, check out our complete list of community organizations seeking passionate volunteers.