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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) is made up of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who are women-identifying, trans, or gender-expansive young leaders ages 16-24 from Greater Springfield and Franklin County, Massachusetts. Through leadership development, social justice programming, and learning about the role of philanthropy,  these young leaders identify barriers, consider solutions, and make recommendations for change in their community.

YWAC launched in Springfield in 2017 and seven cohorts have experienced this transformative program. Participants are guided through sessions on topics including intersectional identity and socialization; feminism and the empowerment of women, girls, and gender-expansive people; leadership development; understanding power, privilege, and oppression; civic engagement, philanthropy, community organizing, and movement building. In January of 2024, YWAC expanded to Franklin County through our community partner, MCSM. 

Each year, YWAC members, learn about trust-based and participatory philanthropy through the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) grantmaking process and decide where WFWM should distribute a special pool of funding to local organizations whose work addresses the barriers 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 tackled 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.

Recent Awardees:

Safety and Anti-Violence
Safety and Anti-Violence
Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts
Economic Security
Dress for Success Western Massachusetts
Economic Security
Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
Leadership and Visibility

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

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is partnering with Arise for Social Justice in Springfield, Massachusetts, and MCSM in Greenfield, Massachusetts to offer YWAC/YWI programming to their communities. Staff from Arise and MCSM facilitate cohort sessions and staff from WFWM lead the grantmaking process and partner on a night of Career Conversations.


YWAC seeks engaged and self-motivated young women of color and women-identified and gender-expansive young people interested in exploring professional development, community leadership, and advocacy.

Eligible participants must be:

  • A current resident of greater Springfield, Massachusetts, or Franklin County, Massachusetts.
    • Young leaders who do not currently live in the community, due to college enrollment, for example, may apply for consideration if they have lived a minimum of five years in the greater Springfield area or Franklin County and can commit to attending meetings regularly.
    • Those who do not have origins in greater Springfield or Franklin County (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. The beginning session will be in person and other sessions will be held via Zoom. Commencement will be held in person.

The 2023-2024 Cohort is closed.

If you have any questions about this initiative, please contact Amihan Matias, Senior Director of Community Partnerships.

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