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YWI Spotlight

Teach a Young Woman to Fish

By September 1, 2019June 30th, 2021No Comments

Give a wo/man a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a wo/man to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.

That’s how the old proverb goes, right?

We all want to have a positive impact in the lives of young women because they’re our future, but how do we choose where to spend our energy? If you’re reading this then you think about your impact a lot. Let’s talk about how you can get started: Talk to one young woman today about the state of the world.
We bet you will hear about hope for a different future. That’s what we’ve heard while listening to young women speak of their ideas for Springfield. (Read about a few of those ideas in the YWI Springfield Blueprint for Action.) Those who have gone through YWI have felt especially empowered after grantmaking into the community.

One young woman said, “Before I always felt it was sort of impossible to see myself leading or making big decisions because I felt I was too ‘unprofessional’ or inexperienced or whatever. But [this process] taught me that though the people making decisions do have more experience, my input is just as valuable and being powerful does not mean I have to be perfect.”

The spirit of the Young Women’s Initiative lives in so many of the young women around us and we just need to help her visualize the leader within. Are you ready to help her see that she has the power?

Ready to fish?

YWI graphic image


Activating young women in Springfield to identify systemic barriers and recommend policy solutions that address issues impacting their lives.

Application Deadline: September 9th
Nominate her/them: Help them lead

The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) is a national project aimed at creating sustainable prosperity for young women. A coalition of eight women’s foundations across the United States leverage 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. The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is leading the Springfield Partnership which began in 2017. A Steering Committee of volunteers from business, philanthropy, local and state government, and education participate to help guide the young women in identifying, researching, and suggesting solutions for key issues facing young women and girls in Springfield.

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 Massachusetts. Participants will be encouraged to share their knowledge with school and peer communities by launching clubs or hosting workshops. Occasionally sessions occur on weekends for special events.  There is no tuition fee for this program and accepted members are paid up to $900 in stipends for attending.

Questions? For more information, contact Stephanie Steed at 18 Degrees.

Stephanie Steed

“18 Degrees is thrilled to have so many smart, resourceful, creative and curious young women recommended to participate in YWAC. We’re excited to learn more about them and to hear about their goals and accomplishments during the interviewing process.

There’s still time for the bright young women of Springfield to apply!”

– Stephanie Steed, Vice President