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YWI Spotlight

YWI Program Details

YOUNG WOMEN’S INITIATIVE

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

WHAT IT IS

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 resources help to mentor and train the young women. The program includes educational sessions and field trips that provide guidance on identifying, researching, and suggesting solutions for key issues facing young women and girls in Springfield.

WHY IT MATTERS

Data indicate that young people, and particularly young women, who are critical drivers of economic prosperity, are leaving our region due to perceived lack of economic prosperity. The majority of Springfield residents are people of color and more than 30% are under 20 years old. Single mothers head two out of every five families. When compared to eight cities of similar size, Springfield has the highest child poverty rate and the third highest overall poverty rate. Because poverty disproportionally impacts young women of color, effective interventions focused on this group can have community-wide positive impact. YWI is unique because it empowers young women to be leaders creating a road map for their own future and catalyze positive change across the Springfield community.

PROGRAM DETAILS

Each cohort is comprised of up to 20 young women residing in Springfield between the ages of 14 and 24. Bi-weekly sessions are held on Tuesday evenings between 5:30 and 8:00 PM, October through May. Session topics include gender and racial justice, public policy, social activism, economic empowerment, philanthropy, public speaking and leadership skills. A graduation ceremony takes place in June. 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.

Applications are online at www.mywomensfund.org/apply-to-youth-advisory-council/

The deadline for applications is September 21st.

The acceptance process also includes an interview.

Contact Christine Monska for additional information at cmonska@mywomensfund.org.