The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation is a District-wide effort to improve life outcomes and increase opportunities for cis and trans young women and gender-expansive youth of color between the ages of 12 and 24.
We are committed to identifying opportunities to open doors to progress and to advancing gender and racial equity. Our Blueprint for Action guides YWI’s research, grantmaking, and advocacy. We work in partnership with two core groups who drive the work of the initiative: the Young Women’s Advisory Council and the Advisory Committee.
Through leadership development programming, advocacy efforts, and the provision of direct support to youth-serving organizations, the Initiative aims to reduce systemic and institutional barriers to success and opportunity for cis and trans young women and gender expansive youth of color so that they may reach their full potential.
Following the 2015 National Listening Tour on Women and Girls of Color organized by the Obama Administration’s White House Council on Women and Girls, The Women’s Foundation convened a series of Listening Sessions in 2016 and 2017. The sessions served to connect with young women of color in the District of Columbia by providing a platform for them to tell their stories and to allow for deeper conversation around issues that matter to them.
The Women’s Foundation used these learnings to launch YWI and to identify the highest priority policy issues to address moving forward. Those policy issues are:
Economic Security: Strategies and interventions that build pathways out of poverty for young women of color and their families.
Education: Supports and resources young women of color need to succeed in their educational experience, including pregnant and parenting students and young women who have left the school system.
Health and Well-Being: Interventions and supports young women need to be physically and emotionally healthy, including sexual and reproductive health.
Safety and Violence Prevention: Policies and actions to guarantee young women feel safe and free from all forms of violence in private and public spaces including home, school, public transit, work, and the community.
Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice: Solutions to reduce the number of young women who will become involved with foster care or juvenile justice systems, and to support those already in the systems so they can reach their full potential.
Community Support and Opportunities: Supports that facilitate young women and girls’ access to positive role models and a strong cultural and self-identity.
Co-chairs & Lead Partners
Karma Cottman, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Ruby Corrado, Casa Ruby
Maria Gomez, Mary’s Center
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, Washington Area Women’s Foundation
Debby Shore, SashaBruce
Monica Gray, YWCA National Capital Area
Asian American LEAD
Crittenton Services of Greater Washington
DC Alliance of Youth Advocates
DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
DC Dept. of Human Services
DC Jobs with Justice
DCPS: Project Reign
DC Rape Crisis Center
Girl Scouts of National Capital Region
Girls Inc. DC
Latin American Youth Center
National Women’s Law Center
The National Crittenton Foundation
Rights 4 Girls
The Spice Suite
Volkswagen Group of America
Young Women’s Project
The Women’s Foundation modeled YWI in DC after the New York City Young Women’s Initiative, launched in 2015 through a partnership between Girls for Gender Equity, the New York City Council, and the New York Women’s Foundation. The success of YWI-NYC inspired women’s foundations from across the country to launch their own Young Women’s Initiatives, creating 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.