Guiding Liberated Futures

By Lauren Brathwaite   |   May 20, 2024

“I’ve been committed to girls of color since I was one.” Dr. Monique Couvson, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC), has dedicated her life to young people, beginning with her involvement in organizing, mobilizing, teaching, and researching during her teenage years. Rooted in her identity as a Black girl from the diverse and eclectic melting pot of California’s Bay Area, her perspective has been shaped by her upbringing in an environment that embraced people from all walks of life, which led to her scholarly pursuits exploring the intersections of race, gender, justice, and education.

“If you love yourself, you want to be part of a community that invests in you,” says Couvson. Although girls are sometimes taught that such thinking may be perceived as selfish, she firmly believes that “this is an essential way to think if girls are going to grow, be healthy, and [be] whole.” 

A Commitment to Freedom Work

Throughout her life, Couvson has rejected the idea that being a girl of color should limit what is possible. She recognizes that girls of color are welcome and deserving, and she has always defined her work as community and freedom work.

After years of research, Couvson saw a stark funding gap for studying girls and women of color. This led her to research the broader issue within philanthropy, which ignited her commitment to addressing the lack of investment in girls of color.

Assuming leadership of G4GC in 2020, amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Couvson was acutely aware that this global crisis would have a disproportionately negative impact on youth of color. It was imperative for Couvson to swiftly allocate resources to organizations working in communities that serve and engage girls of color. 

Couvson advocated for the organization’s transformation from a convening space into a grantmaking institution, and she initiated the Love is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund. Between April 2020 and September 2020, this vital fund raised and regranted more than $4 million to over 100 organizations across 26 states. By envisioning G4GC as a proactive philanthropic intermediary, Couvson positioned the organization to become an impactful entity working with, and for, girls and youth of color. 

Honoring our Grandmothers’ Philanthropy

According to a recent philanthropy study by the Ms. Foundation for Women, women and girls of color receive a mere 0.5% of the $66.9 billion granted by foundations. This translates to a staggering figure of just $5.48 per woman and girl of color in the U.S. Couvson articulates that the mission of G4GC is to invest in the liberated futures of girls and gender-expansive youth of color. This commitment is guided by an intersectional and participatory approach in developing priorities, with the goal of ensuring that all young people have access to a future they can take pride in. 

“One of the things I like to say about the way G4GC operates is that we do our grandmothers’ philanthropy… We think about our grandmothers, how they showed love and community, how we impact our communities, how we care for our communities, how we hold our communities, and our notion of doing that as a grandmother.” 

Today, Couvson takes great pride in G4GC’s expansion to a team of 18 members and the successful allocation of $25 million into communities nationwide, supporting nearly 400 grantee partners. Under Couvson’s leadership, G4GC has initiated impactful projects, including the Black Girl Freedom Fund; the New Songs Rising Initiative, in partnership with the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples; and the Holding a Sister Initiative, a collaboration with the Black Trans Fund for trans girls of color. 

Partnering with Vision

G4GC also provides guidance and professional opportunities for their grantee partners. “Working with girls and gender-expansive youth of color means that many of our organizations are trying to navigate complex systems in real time, and require some strategizing around how to navigate some of the financial systems that negatively impact their organizations,” says Couvson. “We know there’s an underinvestment in organizations that women and young people of color lead. And so, we do a lot of technical assistance, brainstorming, planning, and strategizing with our grantees.

The Unlimited Possibility of Justice

Couvson’s journey in the intersection of gender and race faces challenges, including the dismissal of these issues. She notes that the 2020 surge in funding after George Floyd’s killing highlights the onset of funding fatigue not long after, which she believes can be detrimental if left unaddressed. Couvson believes these challenges are not confined to discrete and narrow lanes; instead, they permeate various aspects of justice. 

This presents a unique fundraising challenge that requires careful consideration in resource distribution to maximize impact. “One of the greatest gifts we get from working with girls, and centering girls and gender-expansive youth, is that we can have a unique perspective on the unlimited possibility of justice. In doing that, we are investing in strategies, practices, and organizations that not only give us new language around these ideas, or give us new identities around these ideas, but also new strategies for remedy,” says Couvson.

Getting It Right

Couvson notes that G4GC’s success lies in establishing infrastructures and systems that show philanthropic stakeholders why it’s essential to resource girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Ultimately, G4GC aspires to transform how society perceives girls and gender-expansive youth of color, reshaping resource allocation to help them realize their dreams.

“We’re interested in a sustainable transformation that allows us to actualize what is possible when all our young people have access to quality health care, quality education, access to capital and economic opportunities,” she says. “An investment in [G4GC] is an investment in the constructive processes we have built to inform philanthropy – opportunities to meet us where the young people want to be met,” says Couvson. “We want our girls and young people to emerge into healthy adults so they can move in unobstructed ways into experiences rooted in joy.”


Grantmakers for Girls of Color

Donate now!
(917) 226-6634
Vice President, Development: Tara Quarrie


G4GC is a philanthropic organization with a mission to cultivate and mobilize resources in support of girls* of color. Our mission to resource and support transformative organizing work that dismantles systems of oppression in the U.S. and territories is founded on an infrastructure that reflects our values, a culture of partnership, healing, reciprocity, and love.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.