Young Women's Initiative Applications


YWI Blueprint for Action

Recommendations from 20 young women with something to say and much to share.

Program Structure

The Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) consists of up to 20 young women, ages 14-24. Through a leadership development and social justice program delivered in partnership with 18 Degrees, formerly known as Berkshire Children and Families, these young leaders investigate barriers, explore solutions, and make recommendations for change in their community. The YWAC will form task forces to implement projects in partnership with community organizations in Western MA. Participants will be encouraged to share their knowledge with school and peer communities by launching clubs or hosting workshops.

2019-2020 Session dates are:
October 8 & 22 | November 5 & 12 | December 3 & 10 | January 7 & 28 | February 4 & 11 | March 10 & 24 | April 7 & 14 | May 5 & 19

All sessions will be held from 5:30-8:00 p.m. in Springfield.

Selected Topics: Leadership Skill Building, Aspirations and Identities, Community Building, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Exploring Themes of Gender and Racial Equity, Social Justice and Advocacy

Check out the 2018-19 Cohort’s recommendations in their Blueprint for Action.


The Women’s Fund seeks bright, self-motivated, and collaborative young women with a history of community leadership and personal achievement. Requirements include:

  • Must be a resident of Springfield, Mass.
    Young women who do not currently live in the community, due to enrollment in college, for example, may apply if they have lived a minimum of five years in Springfield and can commit to regularly attending meetings. 
  • Ages 14-24 years as of program start date.

Applications for the 2019-2020 Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) are available for download below. For more information or questions, contact Alycia Gay, Community Investments Coordinator.
If you are looking to nominate a young woman, you may fill out this short form.

Click here to download the YWI Application as a Word document. Download the YWI Application as a Word document. 

Click here to download the YWI Application as a fillable PDF.  Download the YWI Application as a fillable PDF.

Steering Committee 

Bridget Bushey
YWAC Alumna ’18

Michael Clark
Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Engagement
Office of Senator Eric P. Lesser

Nikai Fondon
Scholarship Program Associate
Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts

Dawn Forbes DiStefano
Chief Finance and Grants Officer
Square One

Barbara Gresham
Springfield School Committee

Luzed Guzman
Sales Representative

Pattie Hallberg
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts

Denise Hurst
Springfield School Committee

Lydia E. Martinez-Alvarez
Assistant Superintendent
Springfield Public Schools

Jynai McDonald
Western MA Regional Manager
Training Resources of America, Inc.

Kayla Monroe
Transformational Office Analyst
MassMutual Financial Group

LaTonia Naylor
Springfield School Committee

Linda Matys O’Connell
Co-President, Springfield Unit of Northampton Area
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

Gladys Oyola
Election Commissioner and Deputy City Clerk
City of Springfield

Rachel Parent
Chief Information Officer
MassMutual Corporate Technology

Maria Perez
Springfield School Committee

Dora Robinson
Retired President and CEO
United Way of Pioneer Valley

Sonja Shaw
Relationship Manager, National Programs
MassMutual Financial Group

Marvenia Shubrick
Legislative Aide
Office of Rep. José F. Tosado

Barbara Smith
Director, Cashbooks and Imaging Operations/Retirement Services
MassMutual Financial Group

Maria Sombe Baraka
Audit Consultant
MassMutual Financial Group

Audrey Straw
YWAC Alumna ’18

Kateri Walsh
City Councilor
Springfield City Council

Tracye Whitfield
City Councilor
Springfield City Council

Collaborative Members

The National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives (NPCYWI) is a dynamic effort by eight 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 are on 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