The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) announced $262,500 in one-time general operating grants to 11 organizations serving young women, girls, and gender-expansive people, ages 12-24. Awarded through the Foundation’s Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN), the grants support organizations working in the intersecting areas of economic opportunity, safety, and leadership with and on behalf of young women and girls to advance key YWI MN Blueprint for Action recommendations.
In addition, WFM awarded a $75,000 grant to YWCA St. Paul to continue building leadership and advocacy skills with the Governor-appointed Young Women’s Cabinet, who ground the Young Women’s Initiative in the lived experiences and expertise of young women and communities.
In total, the awards represent an investment of $337,500 through the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota. In this recent cohort, 45 percent of YWI MN partners are led by Black and Indigenous women and women of color, and 36 percent are based in Greater and rural Minnesota.
“Investing in young women and gender-expansive people who hold intersecting identities makes a difference for families, communities, and the future of Minnesota. Community-led organizations have the vision and the solutions, and the Young Women’s Initiative is dedicated to building their power and capacity while changing systems so that young women thrive, with safety, economic opportunity, and leadership,” said LaCora Bradford Kesti, vice president of community impact.
Launched in 2016, YWI MN is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment and a public-private partnership with the Governor’s Office of the State of Minnesota to achieve equity in opportunities with and for young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities. Since 2016, the Women’s Foundation has invested more than $3.6 million in 115 organizations and programs, and 111 microgrants to individuals.
All Women’s Foundation grants support general operating expenses, which provide greater flexibility, crucial for organizations to build stability around community-sustaining programs.
discapacitados abriéndose caminos (d.a.c.) (South St. Paul) | $25,000 — To support personnel costs and provide information to Latino/Hispanic families and individuals with disabilities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, through one-to-one individual and peer support, training, and connection to community resources in Spanish. d.a.c. is Minnesota’s only Latino-led nonprofit whose central purpose is to help youth and families with disabilities.
Division of Indian Work (DIW) (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To support the Wikoškalaka Omničiye, Young Women’s Society (YWS) in the Dakota language. The group provides safety and leadership activities to low-income American Indian females, ages 11 to 21, who reside in the seven-county Metro area. All DIW services are provided free of charge to low-income, urban American Indians of all ages—more than 3,000 people annually.
Duluth Community School Collaborative (Duluth) | $25,000 — To expand opportunities for students at Denfeld After School Happenings (DASH) and Denfeld’s Black Student Association (BSA) to help all students overcome barriers to graduating on time. A Youth Development Coordinator will lead new community partnerships, bring in speakers that are representative of student backgrounds, culturally relevant activities, and varied experiences to explore post-secondary career pathways.
Family Freedom Center (Duluth) | $25,000 — To support a Skilled Trades, Arts, Robotics and Technology (START) program, an unapologetically Black workspace that exposes students to cutting edge technology and information in an educating and nurturing environment. This program will help to improve economic conditions for young BIPOC women by increasing employment rates as students complete the program and go on to start their own businesses and attain well-paying jobs.
Family Tree Clinic (Minneapolis) | $15,000 — To build health education programs by offering on-site programming to grow peer support and develop leadership skills around sexual health and healthy relationships. Programming includes a weekly drop-in program for LGBTQ+ teens and young adults experiencing homelessness or who are involved in the carceral or foster system, in partnership with Avenues for Youth, and Keeping It Safe and Sexy (or KiSS), a summer peer education program for LGBTQ+ youth and allies who earn income by teaching peers about sexual health.
First Witness Child Advocacy Center (Duluth) | $22,500 — To engage with expert consultants from BIPOC communities who will provide training so that team members understand the dynamics of culture and historical trauma and can respond with awareness, humility, and understanding. First Witness is a child-focused agency, offering hope, healing and justice for survivors of child abuse and their families.
MIGIZI Communications (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build employment and internship trainings for American Indian youth in media and green jobs by offering four paid training cohorts for high school students and young adults. In addition, funding will provide cultural and leadership programming and support the Native Youth Council in developing leadership skills in a culturally grounded framework at Minneapolis Public Schools.
OutFront Minnesota Community Services (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build collective programs in anti-violence, educational equity, and policy/organizing to advance systems change for LGBTQ+ girls, women, and people. OutFront Minnesota is the only victim-services organization in the state that specializes in providing services to transgender and gender non-conforming victim-survivors, who often have no other place.
Southeast Asian Diaspora Project (SEAD) (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To expand the SEA Change Lab program, an eight-week cohort program for emerging artists from Southeast Asian diaspora communities in Minnesota and nationally. Funding supports participant stipends and increasing the cohort size for a series of artistic medium-specific workshops taught by Southeast Asian resident artists.
Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (Saint Paul) | $25,000 — To support Girls Getting Ahead in Leadership (GGAL), a program for middle and high school immigrant and refugee girls and female-identified students in the areas of academic support, leadership development, financial literacy, college prep, and healthy relationships. Funding also supports WeLEAD, a post-secondary program that provides career exploration and orientation to the higher education system.
YWCA Duluth (Duluth) | $25,000 — To recruit 10 young women that identify as Black, Indigenous, women of color, and/or have queer/trans identities to form a Young Women’s Initiative group for a kickoff retreat where they will get to know each other, participate in critical thinking activities, and begin to design activities for a new YWCA Duluth Leadership Summit for women and gender-expansive people. The group will convene twice monthly and receive a monthly stipend.