An Arizona where women and girls of all identities thrive.
WFSA innovates to create social, political, and economic change that achieves equity for women and girls.
Nonpartisan research is at the heart of everything we do. We identify economic barriers and opportunities for women and girls in Arizona to inform our work.
WFSA strives to remove systemic barriers facing women and girls through policy change. We write, run, support, and enact legislation that levels the playing field.
Big problems need bold solutions, so we seek to achieve long-lasting systemic change with innovative approaches. We create, pilot, and scale programs that empower and uplift women and girls.
Organizations that support women and girls are chronically underfunded. WFSA aims to change that by investing in a wide range of organizations that position women and girls to thrive.
The concept for WFSA began in 1991 when two Tucson women, tired of philanthropy’s failure to address the economic challenges facing women, decided to take matters into their own hands.
With $20,000, Melody Robidoux and Harriet Silverman launched their idea for a women’s scholarship fund in Tucson, recognizing that women faced a myriad of economic challenges, high rates of poverty, and systemic barriers to self-sufficiency and opportunity – and, that philanthropy was failing to address any of these issues. It quickly became apparent that the need was greater than anyone could have imagined, so in 1992, Melody and Harriet officially established the Southern Arizona Women’s Fund at the Tucson Community Foundation.
The fund evolved into the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona and was officially incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1999.
For over 20 years, WFSA was sustained by passionate and dedicated volunteers, board members, and typically only one or two staff members at a time. As the foundation grew, the organization evolved, with four key pillars guiding the vision of WFSA: research, grantmaking, advocacy, and leadership development.
As the team grew, so did the impact. Award-winning programs like Unidas grew over the years, and new leadership development programs were created. WFSA grantmaking steadily increased, with more than $20M awarded to over 600 organizations to date. WFSA research helped inform people across the state, and the growing focus on advocacy led to WFSA advising the Executive Office and passing legislation that can help hundreds of thousands of Arizonans.
In 2021, as WFSA celebrated 30 years of impact, we could not ignore what was becoming increasingly apparent: after watching the pandemic destroy decades of momentum for women, it is essential that we scale our work to impact women and girls across Arizona. With a team that had grown to 13 under the leadership of CEO Dr. Amalia Luxardo, WFSA announced in October 2021 that we were expanding our scope to include the whole state, and changing our name to The Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona. WFSA’s first statewide grant, the Women & Girls of Color Fund, was launched that same year and was Arizona’s first grant specifically designed to support organizations led by and serving women of color.
We are proud of our Southern Arizona roots and will continue to invest in the region as we build relationships with other Arizona communities. While our geography has expanded and our brand has evolved, our commitment to gender equity remains.
Today, WFSA is as determined as ever to ensure women and girls of all identities in Arizona have the opportunity to thrive.