Women's foundation launches fund to support MeToo movement

FILE - In this April 13, 2018 file photo, activist Tarana Burke, founder of the MeToo movement, attends Variety's Power of Women: New York event in New York. The New York Women’s Foundation says it has raised an initial $1 million for a fund to support Burke and the movement she founded 12 years ago, with a goal of raising at least $2 million a year. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

A New York-based women's foundation has established a fund to support the MeToo movement and has raised an initial $1 million

NEW YORK — Tarana Burke and her MeToo movement are getting a financial boost for their work fighting sexual violence.

The New York Women's Foundation said it has raised an initial $1 million for a fund to support Burke and the movement she founded 12 years ago, with a goal of raising at least $2 million a year.

Burke founded MeToo to support survivors of sexual violence, particularly girls and women of color and in marginalized communities. But the group's visibility has skyrocketed in the last six months, since shortly after revelations emerged about the sexual misconduct of movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Soon after, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a request for survivors of sexual assault or harassment to use #MeToo to demonstrate the extent of the problem. Within days, 1.7 million people had used the hashtag.

Burke said on Wednesday the new funding will help with the continuing work of MeToo and will help people understand the movement is expansive and is "not about one person."

"I suspect that in a year or two, (MeToo) won't be as newsworthy but what we'll have is the philanthropic dollars to help us really institutionalize the work that's happening on the ground," she said. "And so the things that will be newsworthy will be the ways that we're moving the needle to end sexual violence. It won't be just about what person is losing their job or what new person is being revealed as a predator."

The New York Women's Foundation's president, Ana Oliveira, said the fund's goal was to make sure the MeToo moment "not be just a moment — that the movement be supported in a sustainable manner."

"The MeToo movement, with Tarana's vision and leadership, has the potential to not leave any woman behind," Oliveira said.

She added that it's a tall order for one person to not only lead her organization but to also spend her time constantly raising every dollar. She said the fund aimed to take some of that pressure off Burke.

Burke said the last six months have presented an opportunity but also a challenge, "trying to balance all these things, managing this level of visibility and also knowing that we have to do a lot of groundwork."

She called the collaboration with the foundation "a new model," and she hailed the group for "trusting in the people who do the work to know what's best and who's best served by the resources."

And she mused: "You know I think a lot about what would have happened if we had been fully funded 12 years ago, where we could have been in this work if we'd had (this) kind of support."

The foundation isn't alone in helping to fund MeToo. Burke said former tennis star Billie Jean King, a women's equality advocate, has donated $100,000 and is seeking nine others to join her in doing the same.

Weinstein has apologized for causing "a lot of pain" with "the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past," but he has denied "any allegations of non-consensual sex."

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