In October 2017, our Young Women's Initiative hit the ground running with the kickoff for the Young Women's Advisory Council.
With success, the three-year Partnership for Young Women’s Progress pilot will allow partners to:
Create leadership and high-level decision making opportunities for young women, and compensate their efforts as part of a the Young Women’s Advisory Council.
Encourage the participants to become peer educators by launching philanthropy clubs or hosting workshops at their school.
Analyze available data, examine current investments, and identify where partners can make a lasting impact.
Create a public document with young women’s economic growth and empowerment recommendations.
Generate and fund a phased action plan for the region that will include re-granting partnerships.
Engage message research conducted by a leading national firm that will help us shape strategic communications aimed at creating a positive shift regarding young women.
The Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) will be comprised of up to 20 young women ages 12 to 24. Members will be selected through a competitive citywide nomination process. Through a leadership development program and ongoing relationships with Steering Committee adult mentors, these young leaders will examine barriers, explore solutions, and make recommendations for policy and other improvements. They will acquire the skills to recommend grants that address the solutions they collectively propose, and it is the goal of YWI to secure funding to facilitate this grant making process. YWAC members will be also expected to develop concrete strategies to share their learning with their peer communities.
Founding Steering Committee members include:
Ann Burke, Vice President, Western Mass. Economic Development Council
Michael Clark, Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Engagement, Office of Senator Eric P. Lesser
Dawn Creighton, western Massachusetts regional director, Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Ernesto Cruz, Legislative Aide, Rep. José F. Tosado, ninth Hampden District
Dawn Forbes DiStefano, Chief Finance and Grants Officer, Square One
Pattie Hallberg, CEO, Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts
Denise Hurst, Springfield School Committee
Justin Hurst, at-large member, Springfield City Council
Ronn Johnson, President/CEO, MLK Family Services
Chelsea Kline, Director of Arts and Humanities, Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) Program at Bay Path University
Lydia E. Martinez-Alvarez, Assistant Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools
Rachel Parent, Chief Information Officer at MassMutual Corporate Technology
Suzanne Parker, Executive Director, Girls Inc – Holyoke
Dora Robinson, Retired President and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley
Marian Sullivan, Communications Director, Springfield Office of the Mayor
Samantha Washburn-Baronie, Deputy Director, Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Office of Economic Empowerment
Sarah Williams, SVP, Head of Financial Risk at Global Atlantic Financial Group
The National Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives (YWI) is a collective national strategy led by eight women’s foundations that leverages the resources of multiple stakeholders across multiple localities to address core structural issues that keep our nation’s low-income young women from experiencing robust health, economic security, personal safety, and leadership opportunities. In addition to the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, foundation partners include the Dallas Women’s Foundation, New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation of California, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, and Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Together, YWI projects in these different localities will create a unified lens and consistent language with which to discuss the structural issues that stand in the way of young women’s progress, then use that lens and language to reshape the local and national policy and philanthropic agendas from which the issues of young women have been historically absent.