Anne-Marie Saint-John, Alva, Long Island City, NY >

Amplify Her® Foundation Announces Ascendus as Inaugural Grantee Partner

New York City Organizations to Receive Combined Total $1M to Advance Leadership of Women and GirlsMEDIA 

December 4, 2023, New York, NY – Amplify Her® Foundation today announced that it will grant a combined total of $1 million to New York City nonprofits working to advance the leadership of women and girls across the boroughs. Amplify Her Foundation is a new private grantmaking foundation with the mission of supporting women and girls from underserved communities to become transformative changemakers.

The announcement comes less than two months after the release of “If She Can Make it Here”, their comprehensive research report on women’s and girls’ leadership in New York City. Conducted in partnership with and The New York Women’s Foundation, the report helped guide the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy by identifying the greatest barriers women face and interventions that support them in overcoming those obstacles.

The grantee partners were chosen out of a pool of almost 150 requests for support. Their work addresses a wide array of challenges facing women and girls in the city and fall into one or more of the following categories: girls’ leadership development; women’s leadership development; equitable representation; women’s entrepreneurship; and advocacy.

Applicants participated in an in-depth review process, including site visits from Foundation staff and the all-volunteer Amplify Her® Leadership Network, in keeping with the Foundation’s commitment to participatory processes. The board reviewed all applications and recommendations from staff and Leadership Network members.

The majority of the grantees are women-led, with diverse leadership reflective of the communities they serve. They have unique, gender-specific programming, a strong local presence, deep engagement within the community and clear alignment with Amplify Her® Foundation’s mission. In keeping with the Foundation’s trust-based practices, over half of all funding is unrestricted and can be directed wherever it is needed most.

Many organizations specifically serve women of color, immigrants and other communities that face additional systemic barriers. A number of grantees are new, smaller organizations that have identified gaps in current programs and resources for women and girls and the grants will allow them to start or significantly expand new programs.

“Our inaugural grantees are doing powerful and courageous work to advance women’s leadership in New York City,” said Marti Speranza Wong, Amplify Her Foundation founder, executive director and board chair. “With ‘If She Can Make it Here’ as our guide, we identified organizations with clear and compelling interventions that make a significant positive impact on the lives of many. We are honored to partner with them and in their vision and dedication we see a future where we have full gender equity.”

“All inaugural grantees share a deep connection to their local community, take a collaborative approach to their work and honor the wisdom of the women and girls they serve. In their applications and at our site visits, the impact of their work and the ripple effects it has on the city as a whole were clear and inspiring. We know that because of the work of these organizations, many women’s and girls’ lives have and will be changed for the better,” said Laura Risimini, director of grants, Amplify Her Foundation.

The grantees in this round of funding include: Ascendus; Bella Abzug Leadership Institute; Bottomless Closet; Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; Custom Collaborative; Felicia’s Promise; Full STEAM Forward; Girls Who Invest; Hot Bread Kitchen; Latinas On the Verge of Excellence; Legally BLK Fund; New Women New Yorkers; PowHer New York; Sadie Nash Leadership Project; Seeds of Fortune; South Asian Youth Action; Staten Island Chamber of Commerce Foundation; Student Leadership Network; Welcome to Chinatown; and The 92nd Street Y, New York.

“Ascendus believes in creating a world of financial ascension for all, and in part, this means breaking down the barrier of access to capital to ultimately grow the financial health of women-owned businesses in New York City. Thanks to this inaugural grant from the Amplify Her Foundation, we can continue providing one-on-one direct support to local women-owned businesses to empower them to unleash a ripple effect of positive change in the years to come,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Ascendus.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Amplify Her Foundation as it will help us expand our leadership after school training in public high schools throughout New York City. This support will help us to continue empowering even more youth to “grab the mantle of leadership,” said Liz Abzug, founder and president of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute.

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of one of the inaugural grants from the Amplify Her Foundation.  We will use these funds to grow our capacity to serve even more women in need on their journeys into the workforce and onto the path to self-sufficiency. It takes a community of women to support one another to create real societal change. Given that this year the need for our services is up 80% over last year, the timing of this gift is truly going to make a difference in serving the women of NYC,” said Melissa Norden, executive director of Bottomless Closet.

“As New York City faces a sex trafficking crisis not seen in decades, met mostly with impunity and even indifference, Amplify Her stands out as an inspired force to achieve transformative change in the lives of women and girls, especially those who are violated and forgotten,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. “We are honored to partner with Amplify Her in our collective quest to ensure that every woman and girl in our City and beyond will one day enjoy full equality.”

“This investment from the Amplify Her Foundation fortifies our Training Institute, Business Incubator, and Worker-Owned Cooperative Development, expanding our capability to assist a broader spectrum of women in various capacities. These invaluable funds will drive our growth, allowing us to expand our support network for an increasingly diverse community of no/low-income and immigrant women,” said Ngozi Okaro, founder and executive director of Custom Collaborative.

“We are extremely grateful to the Amplify Her Foundation for recognizing the untapped potential of girls of color and supporting our work. As a new, grassroots nonprofit, this grant will allow us to significantly expand our programming to assist girls of color from underrepresented communities by helping them develop marketable skills, attain higher education, learn about career opportunities and become financially self-reliant. Together, we are going to lift up even more girls and set them on a path to success,” said Felicia Fonrose, founder and executive director of Felicia’s Promise.

“As a small nonprofit that launched in 2020, we are immensely grateful to the Amplify Her Foundation for this grant, which will allow us to expand our free afterschool STEAM programming to reach even more girls of color in NYC. We are thrilled to be a part of the Amplify Her Foundation family and look forward to collaborating with our fellow grantees as we work to provide young girls in NYC with the skills, confidence, and mentorship necessary to create future changemakers,” said Joni Bessler, CEO of Full STEAM Forward. 

“At Girls Who Invest, we are honored to be a recipient of Amplify Her Foundation’s inaugural grant to advance women and girls from underserved communities in NYC. With this generous support, we are partnering to close the access to opportunity gap, and to create pathways for upward mobility and the long-term retention and advancement of women in investment management,” said Katherine Jollon Colsher, president and CEO of Girls Who Invest. 

“Funding from the Amplify Her Foundation will greatly expand Hot Bread Kitchen’s support for women and gender-expansive entrepreneurs as they seed, start, and scale their small food businesses in NYC. This meaningful investment in underserved entrepreneurs will have an incredible impact on their ability to thrive and generate wealth for their families and communities. We congratulate Amplify Her on their launch and investment in economic mobility for women in New York City, and we look forward to seeing more entrepreneurs thrive with Amplify Her Foundation’s support,” said Leslie Abbey, CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen.

“We are very grateful to the Amplify Her Foundation for its generosity. The foundation’s support will allow L.O.V.E. to continue expanding and growing its programs, which will help to increase our impact and serve more young women in NYC,” said Claudia Espinosa, founder and executive director of Latinas on the Verge of Excellence.

“Thanks to the invaluable backing of the Amplify Her Foundation, Legally BLK Fund is proud to inaugurate our EmpowerHer Pre-Law legal institute, designed for high school and college-aged young women of color in NYC. This grant serves as the cornerstone of our innovative initiative, granting us the necessary resources to provide essential leadership development, mentorship, and exposure to the legal profession. With this crucial support, we’re breaking down barriers, fostering opportunities, and empowering future attorneys, equipping them with the tools to shape the legal landscape in and beyond NYC. The Amplify Her Foundation’s support is pivotal in fostering a more diverse and inclusive legal environment, ensuring that every young woman of color sees herself as an integral part of the legal profession’s future. The grant also allows us to provide stipends for program participants, further supporting their involvement and commitment to the initiative,” said Talia Scott, founder and executive director of the Legally BLK Fund.

“With the generous support from the Amplify Her Foundation, New Women New Yorkers is poised to embark on an exciting journey in the coming year. This grant will enable us to expand our specialized career pathways in burgeoning fields like clean energy and finance, thereby empowering immigrant women to secure not just jobs, but meaningful careers. It will also bolster our efforts to enhance mental health support, recognizing its vital role in professional and personal success. Furthermore, this funding will be instrumental in advancing our data capabilities, ensuring our decisions and strategies are as impactful as possible. We’re eager to see the transformative impact this grant will have on the lives of the women we serve and on our mission to champion their success in New York City’s workforce,” said Arielle Kandel, founder and CEO of New Women New Yorkers.

“In the last decade, New York has made strides advancing gender and racial equity, but to ensure continued forward movement and push back against conservative headwinds, PowHer New York must ramp up our efforts and inspire more women to take on the fight for inclusive gender justice. Thanks to the Amplify Her Foundation grant, we will be able to expand and deploy our collaborative network, and we will launch a new initiative to build the next generation of gender activists,” said Beverly Neufeld, president of PowHer New York.

“At Sadie Nash Leadership Project we understand that vital social movements are often led by young leaders willing to recognize and resist injustice, build solidarity with others, and take action to support their communities. Thanks to the support of Amplify Her Foundation, we will continue to be a space that welcomes young people’s innate curiosity– helping them explore answers to their questions about power and privilege and helping them act as agents of change,” said Tené Adero Howard, executive director of Sadie Nash Leadership Project.

“With funding from Amplify Her Foundation, Seeds of Fortune will have the operational capacity to support our growing team in our mission of preparing young women from diverse backgrounds for their financial futures. Our students will be supported in accessing an affordable college education and economic information, scalable and accessible career opportunities, as well as access to social capital that leads to closing the wealth and education gap,” said Nitiya Walker, founder and executive director of Seeds of Fortune.

“South Asian Youth Action (SAYA) is honored to be a member of the Amplify Her Foundation’s first cohort of grantees. This support will allow SAYA to enhance and expand our well-established Young Women’s Leadership Program – extending our reach to provide targeted, holistic, and much-needed programming to even more female-identifying high school youth throughout Queens. Young women from AAPI and other minority and immigrant communities face numerous barriers to achieving success. Through increased exposure to culturally affirming leaders and learning environments, SAYA makes a meaningful impact on these students’ ability to learn and thrive, increasing their likelihood of excelling in school and beyond. We thank the Foundation for recognizing the alignment of our missions and believing in our approach to empowering young women. This funding will be instrumental in helping SAYA’s programming reach many more young people. We look forward to an exciting and fruitful partnership,” said Sonia B. Sisodia, executive director of South Asian Youth Action.

“The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is proud to have received a grant from the Amplify Her Foundation,” said Linda Baran, president and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “The grant will be the seed from which we will grow our new Leading Ladies Collective, a first-of-its-kind program for our Chamber. The cohort will consist of women from all stages of Staten Island’s small business community, and will provide leadership development, network growth opportunities, the development of best practices and business strategies, digital literacy, and much more. We are so excited to launch this program, and thank the Amplify Her Foundation for the opportunity.”

“We’re deeply grateful to the Amplify Her Charitable Foundation for their generous support. This grant will fuel our efforts to empower women and girls in New York City through rigorous STEM education. We’re excited to mark the beginning of a promising partnership that will amplify the impact of our work in the community,” said Laura Rebell Gross, senior managing director, girls’ education, at Student Leadership Network.

“Welcome to Chinatown is incredibly grateful for Amplify Her Foundation’s partnership in supporting API, immigrant, and minority business owners who make up the diverse fabric of Manhattan Chinatown. Chinatown is integral to the cultural fabric of New York City and has served as a significant ethnic enclave for Asian Americans. This grant will allow us to ensure Chinatown will remain open for generations to come by expanding our reach and delivering programming specifically developed for women owned businesses and entrepreneurs, furthering gender equality and empowering those within our community,” said Vic Lee, founder & CEO of Welcome to Chinatown.

“This generous gift from the Amplify Her Charitable Foundation ensures that Women inPower can continue to address the critical gap in women’s leadership in senior positions across industries through our free year-long fellowship,” said Seth Pinsky, CEO of The 92nd Street Y, New York. “It also speaks to the power and reach of our program, which has established itself in short order as a clearinghouse for the next generation of transformational women leaders. When we invest in them, they invest in our city. We are proud to partner with Amplify Her Charitable Foundation to support our efforts.”Amplify Her Foundation will open its next grant cycle in February 2024. For more information, please visit

CONTACT: Megan Douglas, [email protected], 347-580-2772

About Amplify Her® Foundation

Amplify Her® Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation that supports women and girls from underserved communities in New York City to become transformative changemakers. They envision a world where all women have the voice, power and agency to drive systemic change. Using trust-based, participatory grantmaking, the foundation infused $1,000,000 into the non-profit, women’s leadership ecosystem in New York City in its 2023 inaugural grant cycle. To learn more, visit

sign up for our newsletters

Skip to content