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YWI Blueprint
for Action 2021

Recommendations from 3 cohorts of young philanthropists
with something to say and more to share.

Program Structure

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

Check out the 2017-20 cohort’s recommendations in their Blueprint for Action or read the most recent Blueprint for Action 2021.


YWAC seeks bright and self-motivated women-identified and gender-expansive young people who are interested in exploring professional development, community leadership, and advocacy.

Potential participants must be:

  • A current resident of Springfield, Chicopee, or Holyoke, Mass.
    • Young leaders who do not currently live in the community, due to enrollment in college, for example, may apply for consideration if they have lived a minimum of five years in Springfield, Chicopee, or Holyoke and can commit to attending meetings regularly.
    • Those who do not have origins in Springfield, Chicopee, or Holyoke (i.e., born and/or raised in one of these cities) and are either attending college or working in one of these cities must be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the region and a commitment to pursuing advocacy opportunities in this community.
  • Ages 16-24 years old at the start of the program.

Young leaders should prepare to participate in the program in a hybrid model. Leaders will be asked to join beginning sessions virtually via Zoom and subsequent sessions in-person, including a field trip and Commencement.

Applications are now closed for this year’s Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) cohort.

If you have any questions about this initiative, please contact Nicole Young-Martin, Community Investments Manager.

Collaborative Members

The National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives (NPCYWI) is a dynamic effort by nine leading women’s foundations that seeks to galvanize and invest resources to amplify the collective power of young women—particularly young women of color— to ensure that they are safe, healthy and economically prosperous in a world with gender and racial equity.  We have a collective mission to shift the narrative about young women of color and to address the core structural issues that have kept too many young women from reaching their full potential.

“I loved being part of YWAC. This program gave me the opportunity to not only grow personally, but to learn skills that can benefit me in the future. YWAC has inspired me to achieve my goals in life and to aspire to greater things.”
—Ramona Williams, YWAC Alumna ’18

Get ready to lead