March 29, 2019

A tennis champ, an 11-year-old, and a national organization are empowering women and girls

In honor of Women's History Month, here are three stories from trailblazers who are making a difference in their communities.

Athlete and entrepreneur Serena Williams says she is committed to investing in women, so she helped launch the Bumble Fund to support women of color entrepreneurs. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. In this edition, we celebrate Women’s History Month with three stories about women making a difference. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at

A grand slam for women entrepreneurs: Serena Williams is taking an active role in helping black female business owners get their companies off the ground. The tennis champion is an investor in Bumble Fund, which was created to help women of color and those from underrepresented groups build their businesses during early-stage investments.

“Things I won’t stop talking about: investing in women. Now through March 27th, @Bumble Fund applicants will get an opportunity to pitch their idea to me and @Whitney,” Williams wrote on her Instagram, “We’re working together to build a bigger, more equitable table. If you’re a woman entrepreneur of color, apply through the app.”

Bumble Funds sited in their press release that in 2017, startups from women only received 2 percent of all venture capital funds. In that same year, black women received only 0.2 percent of all venture funding for their startups.

Williams has partnered with Whitney Wolfe Herd, who is the founder of the dating app called Bumble. Their investments can range anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000 depending on the needs of the business.

Williams has long been a champion for women. Last year, she used her voice to spread awareness of domestic violence through a campaign for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse.

Girls get a raise: A 11-year-old is using her words to show girls that it is fine to “raise your hand” in class. Alice Paul Tapper, the daughter of CNN host Jake Tapper, noticed that the girls in her classes were not participating as frequently as the boys were, and she wanted to change that. As a response, Alice wrote an illustrated children’s book that encourages girls to raise their hands and speak up in their classes. The book was published this month, but Alice created the “Raise Your Hand” campaign when she was just 9 years old. She also helped create a “Raise Your Hand” patch for her local Girl Scouts troop, which girls can earn if they pledge that they will raise their hands in class and recruit three other girls to do so as well. This patch was then brought nationwide to all Girl Scouts troops in October 2017. The New York Times asked Alice to write an op-ed about the patch: “Its message is that girls should have confidence, step up and become leaders by raising our hands,” she wrote.

Penguin Random House reached out to Alice after reading her op-ed to ask her to write a book relaying her story. Alice, who is named after the American suffragist Alice Paul, is donating all the proceeds from her the book to the Girls Scouts. Since then, both Oprah and Ellen generously donated to the cause. Alice hopes that her book and patch will bring confidence so more girls can participate in their classrooms.

Spread the love of books. A national women’s organization recently launched a literacy campaign in impoverished communities. Earlier this month, Phi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women donated 80,000 books to children in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Omaha, Nebraska; and Indianapolis. Multiple literacy volunteers donated these books to children in need through local schools, after-school programs, and community programs.

“The members of our Fraternity are united in our cause to promote the importance of reading,” said Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd in the press release. “According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, one in four children in the United States still reaches adulthood without the basic literacy skills needed to function in everyday life. Pi Beta Phi is honored to donate new books to the children of Indianapolis because we believe reading transforms individuals, creates leaders and is the foundation of all we can achieve in life.”

This organization hopes to spread the love of reading and help improve literacy skills amongst children who do not have the resources or financial support to do so themselves.

Danielle Moskowitz

Danielle Moskowitz

Danielle Moskowitz is a contributor to The Renewal Project.