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Young Women’s Initiative 2018 Grantmaking

Young Women’s Initiative Task Forces

In the past year, the Young Women’s Initiative participants were charged with identifying and researching issues that are barriers to young women and girls in Springfield. According to Program Officer, Christine Monska “The YWAC (Young Women’s Advisory Council) worked over the course of several months to conduct research on the specific need in their community through interviews and surveys. Then they developed a request for proposal so nonprofit organizations could address their recommendations. This process, where youth – especially young women- are at the center of discussions is the future of community development.”

As part of their exploration, the 20 young women developed a set of recommendations for action. They chose four key issues: Women in Leadership, Rape Culture, Mental Health, and Economic, Community, and Workforce Development. A partnership with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts allowed them to put out a call to community organizations for projects that could address these issues through programming.

Young Women’s Initiative 2018 Grantees

Task Force: Economic, Community, and Workforce Development

Grantee: Cambridge Credit Counseling
Mission: Cambridge is committed to helping individuals and families resolve their financial challenges. We offer a comprehensive suite of solutions to assist with unsecured debts, housing issues, and student loans.

Award: $2,515

Cambridge Credit Counseling will provide twice-weekly financial literacy seminars and one-on-one counseling to participants in Springfield Roca’s Young Mothers program. The program is designed to assist single mothers between the ages of 16 and 24 with a history of gang involvement or drug and/or alcohol abuse. These high-risk mothers, often with no employment history, may have also suffered from violence and trauma. The fundamentals of personal money management, opening checking and savings accounts, building and maintaining good credit, and embracing positive financial habits will be covered. The goal of the series is to help young mothers break out of the cycle of violence and poverty, go to work, and provide for their families’ financial needs.

“Lack of access to appropriate clothing and basic necessities has emerged as one of the top 5 reasons for absenteeism, a core reason for bullying and a root cause to many students feeling isolated from their peers.”

Task Force: Mental Health

Grantee: Center for Human Development
Mission: The Center for Human Development (CHD) provides a broad range of high-quality, community-oriented human services dedicated to promoting, enhancing, and protecting the dignity and welfare of people in need.

Award: $2,545

Grant funds will be used to provide young women residents in CHD Springfield locations with experiences outside of what the state funding provides.  Most of the residents are struggling with the very issues that the YWAC identified and CHD wants to give them experiences that other kids get. In the past they’ve been taken to the historical sites in Boston, aquarium trips to Boston or Mystic, Six Flags outings, or a formal night out complete with fancy dresses, a limo ride to a fine-dining restaurant, and etiquette lessons.

Each outing is accompanied by a clinical session, individually or as a group, to discuss the emotions experienced so that the program members are able to have an introspective look at it not as simply a trip to the park, but an evaluation of their personal and social responsibilities and behaviors.

Task Force: Rape Culture

Grantee: Springfield School Volunteers
Mission: The mission of Springfield School Volunteers is to facilitate learning-focused community involvement in support of the Springfield Public Schools’ goal of ensuring that every child attain a high level of academic achievement.

Grantee: Human in Common
Mission: We help individuals and organizations create social norms based on respect, appreciation of diversity and inclusion. We believe that all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, all people deserve to be safe, and all people deserve to thrive in their home, school, place of employment, and community free from harassment, discrimination, and violence.

Award: $2,515

Human in Common is a business offering active bystander training to create more informed individuals who are prepared to stand up against discrimination, harassment, and injustice. Through a partnership with Springfield School Volunteers, Human in Common will provide 8 hours of training for students at Springfield Middle School to bring awareness to rape culture, its manifestations, and forms of expression throughout society. Using age-appropriate language and interactive exercises, participants will learn to identify and effectively interrupt behaviors that can escalate into sexual harassment and assault. In addition, this training teaches young people to respect themselves and others, and healthy social norms.

Task Force: Women in Leadership

Grantee: Girls Inc. of the Valley
Mission: Our Mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold by providing them the opportunity to develop and achieve their full potential.

Award: $2,515

Funds received will be used toward the cost of planning and running the Teen Leadership Academy at the High School of Commerce in November of 2018. Girls Inc.’s Teen Leadership Academy is a leadership training program run for women and by women. The program is offered to young women ages 15-18 at Springfield’s High School of Commerce. Girls Inc. staff members bring their expertise in meeting girls’ developmental needs, and helping girls build self-confidence and self-discipline.

With your support, we can continue to do this work in the community. You make the difference for gender and racial equity.