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Teresa Younger

NEW YORK (AP) — The Ms. Foundation for Women will put $25 million over five years toward organizations that are led by and focus on women and girls of color and also form its first-ever fund that will allow it to take a stronger stance on political and policy issues, the organization said Tuesday in announcing its new strategic plan.

Teresa Younger, the foundation’s president and CEO, said the organization believes focusing on women and girls of color “will have the greatest ripple effect” in terms of what is needed to bring about positive change in the U.S.

“How do we move everybody up the ladder? An investment in women and girls of color reaps the rewards at the end of the day,” she said.

The organization already focuses the majority of its grant-making on organizations that are led by women of color or provide services directed toward them. The strategic plan makes that stance explicitly clear.

The plan also includes the creation of an arm of the foundation that will allow it to advocate on policy, a first in the organization’s 40-plus year history.

That arm is expected to support grassroots efforts on the issues the foundation advocates for, including reproductive rights and economic equality.

The strategic plan calls for the political arm to help develop strategies to get more women of color running for office, funding polling and research and creating candidate report cards for state and local elections.

A commitment like the one the Ms. Foundation is making also could encourage other organizations and donors to put their dollars toward underserved women and girls of color, said T’Sey-Haye Preaster, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Maryland whose research examines Black women and philanthropy.

“One positive example can lead to many more,” she said. The Ms. Foundation “is really positioned well to do that type of work.”

Preaster emphasized the idea that resources centered on women of color benefit society as a whole.

“They literally have been at the intersections of the center of every movement for social and political change in this country,” she said. “Partly because women of color sit at this unique nexus of racial, gender, class identity … they have a unique way of seeing.”

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Deepti Hajela covers issues of race, ethnicity and immigration for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dhajela. For more of her work, search for her name at https://apnews.com.

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