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Young Women’s Initiative 2020 Grantmaking

The Set-Up: Task Forces

With guidance from the facilitators of 18 Degrees, the young women of the Young Women’s Initiative divided themselves into four task forces:

  • Mental Health Awareness for Girls and Women
  • School to Prison Pipeline
  • Feminine Health Care
  • The Exploitation of Women and Girls through Sex Trafficking

Each young woman expressed personal knowledge, experience, or significant interest in the topics, which led to their choice of participation in a task force. The young women spent time in sessions reading articles and expressing their interest and concern regarding each topic.

March to May 2020, the last three months of the group, was designed to use the information about grants and giving, philanthropy, and community organizing, however as it came time for them to prepare statements to share with community agencies, COVID-19 interrupted the task force grantmaking process.

Nonetheless, they persisted!

The women and the facilitators learned to Zoom, and text messaging and posting on team applications became a regular occurrence. 18 Degrees’ facilitators worked to combat the challenges of coordinating schedules for stay-at-home schooling and essential workers (four of the 18 participants worked either at a grocery store, a bank, or a restaurant) with some success. The group recognized that most agencies were responding to the pandemic as a priority, leaving little opportunity to discuss their identified social justice issues. It was no longer feasible for the task forces to request a response from agencies. Instead, they learned different grantmaking strategies to choose an agency that best accommodated the needs as identified by their task forces, and that have a significant impact on girls and women in Springfield.

Young Women’s Initiative 2020 Grantees

Task Force: Mental Health Awareness for Girls and Women

The Mental Health Awareness for Girls and Women Task Force awarded a grant to the Gandara Center for their Impact Youth Access Center.

The Impact Center offers services for youth 16-21 who are experiencing, or at risk of, mental health and/or substance use concerns in a friendly relaxed space. Youth can connect with the Impact Youth Access Center for peer mentoring, recovery navigation, housing resources, a book lounge, a media lab, support groups, and much more.

Task Force: School to Prison Pipeline

The School to Prison Pipeline Task Force awarded funds to Parent Villages for working to confront and mitigate the school to prison pipeline for girls in Springfield.

Parent Villages builds a bridge between parents, youth, advocates, community leaders, and educators to close the opportunity gap and improve the quality of education and lives for all children.

Task Force: Feminine Health Care

The Feminine Health Care Task Force found that the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts had identified this barrier in their research work. The funds from this grant will help amplify their new Hampden County-based report on Sexual Violence Towards Girls.

Task Force: The Exploitation of Women and Girls through Sex Trafficking

The Exploitation of Women and Girls through Sex Trafficking Task Force identified Center for Human Development (CHD) as the organization to receive their grant money. These funds will go toward CHD’s work in confronting commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Thank you to the young women in the Young Women’s Initiative 2020

The 2020 Young Women’s Initiative collectively showed up during these unprecedented times. Although the processes were not as planned, the young women expressed that they felt the benefits of this program. They have stated that because of the group they have grown more observant, their critical thinking and listening skills have improved, and they appreciated the opportunity to work with people with different perspectives and to hear the stories of successful women.

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