Young women’s initiative.

We center and amplify the voices of young women and gender expansive youth of color in decision-making tables to advance gender and racial equity in the District of Columbia.

Through building youth voice, leadership development programming, advocacy efforts, and direct support to youth-serving organizations, the Initiative aims to reduce systemic and institutional barriers to success and opportunity for young women and gender expansive youth of color ages 12 to 24 so that they may reach their full potential.

About YWI



  • Strengthen and amplify leadership and advocacy skills of young women of color aged 12 to 24 in the District of Columbia, and provide opportunities for them to leverage their leadership to create change.
  • Work in partnership with key stakeholders, local policymakers, and community-based organizations to improve outcomes for young women of color and their families in the District of Columbia.
  • Invest in organizations and leaders working to meet the needs of young women and gender-expansive youth of color and their families.
  • Uplift the voices and priorities for action of young women and gender-expansive youth of color advocates in the District of Columbia through a Blueprint for Action.

Young Women’s Advisory Council

The Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) fellowship for young women and gender expansive youth of color is an integral part of YWI. It ensures the work of the initiative stays grounded in the lived experiences and needs of young women of color residing in DC.

Through a partnership with the YWCA National Capital Area, fellows receive leadership, policy, and advocacy education to advance gender and racial equity, select grantees on-behalf of The Women’s Foundation for the Rock Star Fund, and bring a youth perspective and community voice The Women’s Foundation’s work.


A Blueprint for Action

The Blueprint for Action outlines recommendations by young women of color with the objective to shift local policies and practices in the District of Columbia in support of young women’s ability to thrive. We facilitated conversations and conducted interviews with fellows from the Young Women’s Advisory Council and community members to understand barriers to success and propose recommendation to the issues young women of color experience.

Blueprint recommendations suggest making changes to the way systems operate and to the established culture, procedures, programs, and policymaking in the District of Columbia.

You can read the Blueprint here




The Rock Star Fund provides young women of color between the ages of 12 and 24 living in DC with up to $2,000 to invest in their own learning, leadership, ideas, and community projects. We designed the Rock Star Fund as participatory grantmaking. It goes beyond traditional grantmaking, allowing YWAC fellows the opportunity to review applications and decide awardees.

This strategy engages young women of color as agents of change in their communities on both ends of the grantmaking process. On one end, young women decide which projects to invest in, on the other, young women receive an award to make those projects happen. A culture of participatory grantmaking is important to advance gender and racial equity, center the experiences of young women of color, and to allow more funding at the grassroots level!

Welcome to our 2020 awardees! Read below to learn more about their innovative projects to advance the recommendations of our Blueprint for Action.

rock-star-awardeesFrom L-R: Ronjai Beckwith, Ramani Wilson, Aniyah Redd, Maisha Imam, Madelynn Martin, Morgan Hicks, Maisha Imam, Kayla Holliday, Rebecca York, Achanta’e Clark, Reina Dufore and Marlin Ramos.

Meet our new Rock Star Fund Awardees along with their project descriptions: 

  • Ronjai Beckwith will teach parents and their children how to grow a sustainable garden and how to cook with fresh produce.
  • Ramani Wilson will provide training and education for young women of color to learn to recognize abusive relationships in their lives.
  • Aniyah Redd will film a short documentary of conversations with students, teachers, and administrators, discussing things happening to LGBTQ youth, including statistics on the number of LGBTQ youth who commit suicide or are killed every year.
  • Madelynn Martin will conduct a “Cupcakes and Conversations” series to create spaces for girls of color to find their voice and engage on issues that matter to them. Some of these activities include creating a vision board, writing goals, generating a self-affirmation list, creating a gratitude list, and art therapy.
  • Morgan Hicks will create “Art and Soul,” a student-led safe space for youth of color to express themselves and explore their mental health issues with school social workers and a psychologist through art therapy.
  • Maisha Imam will launch a mentorship platform through Muslim Women’s Professional Network (MWPN) for the marginalized community of Muslim women.
  • Kayla Holliday will help young women of color gain financial literacy—bank accounts, credit cards, basic budgeting and the importance of saving, obtain work readiness skills and learn about job opportunities.
  • Rebecca York will produce UNPACK/ED, a series of free, online facilitation tools to help people begin unpacking issues including but not limited to racism, classism, homophobia, and transphobia in their close networks.
  • Achanta’e Clark will organize a circle of healing and a safety and violence prevention workshop, and create a pamphlet showing the types of services various organizations offer for young women of color who have been abused mentally, physically, or verbally.
  • Reina Dufore and Marlin Ramos will establish a website and print edition for the second issue of Lumxn—a zine that shows people in their most authentic and vulnerable states to better understand themselves and one another.


We are part of the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives (NPCYWI) with a focus on galvanizing resources and creating cross-sector partnerships to advance equity and outcomes for young women of color.

Through YWI, each partnering foundation seeks to support community organizations serving young women of color that are committed to racial and gender equity and that provide leadership opportunities for young women of color. Partnering foundations also invest in organizations led by women of color.