The Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) consists of up to 20 Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who are women-identifying, trans, or gender-expansive young leaders ages 16-24 with connections to Greater Springfield, Massachusetts like cities including Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. Through leadership development and social justice programming, these young leaders identify barriers, consider solutions, and make recommendations for change in their community.
The program launched in 2017 and has graduated five cohorts to date. Participants are led through sessions on topics including identity and socialization; power, privilege, and oppression; civic engagement and legislative organizing; organizing and campaign planning; and movement building.
Each year, YWAC members are charged with distributing funding to Greater Springfield-serving organizations whose work addresses the barriers as identified by these young philanthropists. Current cohort members and alumnae use participatory grantmaking, which is the process of shifting the decision-making power to those who are closely impacted by the work. Past grants were awarded to organizations tackling issues such as economic security; mental health awareness; school-to-prison pipeline; safety and anti-violence; leadership and visibility; gender-based care; and sexual violence.
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is partnering with Arise for Social Justice on this year’s program. Staff from Arise facilitate cohort sessions and staff from WFWM leads the grantmaking process.
2022-2023 Session Dates
YWAC Sessions will take place on Tuesdays from 5 – 7 PM on the following dates:
October 23 | November 15 | December 6
January 10 | January 24: Career Conversations (5:30–7 PM)
February 7 | February 28 | March 7 | March 21
April 17 – April 21: State House Field Trip (specific date TBD)
May 9 | May 16 | May 30: Commencement