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Press Release

Women’s Foundation Awards $451,500 to 18 Organizations Expanding Opportunities & Leading Solutions with Young Women

(May 19—Minneapolis) Today, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) announced second-year renewal investments of $309,000 in general operating grants to 15 organizations serving 3,655 girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth ages 12-24. In addition, WFMN awarded a $142,500 grant to YWCA St. Paul to continue building leadership and advocacy skills with the Young Women’s Cabinet, which grounds the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota in the lived experiences and expertise of young women and communities. The grant provides $15/hour payment to all 32 Cabinet members and strengthens engagement with the Young Women’s Initiative across the state. In total, the awards represent an investment of $451,500 through WFMN’s Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota.

“We invest in the power and potential of young women and gender-expansive youth in our state who are leading today. By investing in community-led organizations who hold the solutions, and expanding access and opportunities for young women, our future as a state looks brighter. When women and girls who have been pushed to the margins thrive, their families and communities thrive, and Minnesota will thrive,” said Gloria Perez, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Awarded through the Foundation’s Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN), the grants support front-line 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 2020, WFMN shifted all grantmaking to general operations to allow organizations greater flexibility in a time of uncertainty and heightened need in response to the emergent needs of communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice. The grant period for this second year of investments is March 31, 2021, through March 31, 2022.

Launched in 2016, YWI MN is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment and 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. YWI MN is on a mission to create a Minnesota where all young women and gender-expansive youth thrive with economic opportunity, safety, and leadership. Total investments since the launch of YWI MN exceed $2.5 million.


Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP) (St. Paul) | $15,000 — To fuel the Youth Program, which builds the power of youth as leaders capable of changing injustices and the Gender Justice program, which builds power in young Asian people, especially in queer and trans youth, women, and girls, to combat sexual violence and recognize their bodily autonomy through a four-month-long cohort. AAOP holds the vision that Asian American individuals, families, organizations, and communities in Minnesota will affect long-term social change.

Augsburg University—MN Urban Debate League (MNUDL) (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To create opportunities for young women to access higher paying jobs and develop young women’s leadership through competitive academic debate where they become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active global citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities. MNUDL provides everything a school needs to support a debate team while also running tournaments and providing training and curriculum.

Black Visions (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To support the facilitation of the 2021-2022 WFMN Innovators cohort and general operations. Black Visions is a Black-led, queer- and trans-centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence.

Casa de Esperanza (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To continue support of Fuerza Unida Youth Amig@s program which engages Latin@ youth ages 11 to 16 in leadership training and mentoring to develop the skills and resources to create healthy relationships and sexuality, support friends and family who experience abuse, and challenge the systemic forms of oppression that perpetuate violence. Casa de Esperanza mobilizes Latinas and Latin@ communities to end domestic violence.

discapacitados abriéndose caminos (dac) (South St. Paul) | $19,000 — To continue programming for young girls and women, ages 14 to 24, who assist and support their families with knowledge to navigate systems, be economically stable, and improve the quality of life for family members with disabilities. dac works with family members of people who have a disability or critical health need, from newborns to elders.

Family Tree Clinic (St. Paul) | $15,000 — To continue offering virtual programming and peer education training for youth to ensure that everyone has the tools needed to make healthy and informed decisions about their relationships and sexual health. Family Tree’s health education programming advances outcomes by delivering comprehensive, science-based sexual health and healthy relationship education to young people in a variety of settings.

Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and River Valleys (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To provide girls with knowledge and skills in the areas of STEM, financial literacy, and college- and career-readiness, as well as physical health and safety, mental health, and healthy relationships, while supporting families with additional financial assistance due to the continuing impacts of COVID-19. Girl Scouts’ ConnectZ is designed for girls from underserved communities with limited volunteer capacity, including communities of color, low-income communities, and immigrant communities.

MIGIZI Communications (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To expand the service area and partnerships of the First Person Productions Media and Green Jobs Pathways programs to increase the presence of positive narratives, laws, policies, and behaviors for young American Indian women. MIGIZI Communications provides a strong circle of support that nurtures the educational, social, economic, and cultural development of American Indian youth.

Minneapolis Public Schools—Office of Black Student Achievement (OBSA) (Minneapolis) | $15,000 —To support the Queens Program at the Office of Black Student Achievement, which promotes healthy relationships and college and career readiness with Black girls and young women in grades 6 through 12. OBSA exists to awaken the greatness within Black students in MPS, to have them determined to believe and achieve success, as defined by their own values, and encourages a culture of sisterhood, leadership, and mentorship.

Minnesota State Community & Technical College (Moorhead) | $15,000 — To fund the Steps to Success Program for women in greater Minnesota and the Fargo-Moorhead region with education and support for women considering college to placement in a career with economic and leadership growth opportunities. Steps to Success provides education and support services to women in business, engineering, and technology programs on M State’s Moorhead campus.

Minnesota Youth Collective Education Fund (St. Paul) | $15,000 —To train participants to be their own advocates, whether through student government, on the local city council, or at the State Capitol. The Minnesota Youth Collective Education Fund uplifts and empowers young people throughout their lives by providing leadership development and civic engagement opportunities.

OutFront Minnesota Community Services (Minneapolis) | $25,000 —To train leaders of all ages to advocate to improve systems at schools and workplaces and to train organizations on best practices for inclusive and equitable environments that impact policies and their implementation. Additionally, funding supports OutFront’s Youth Leadership Council to organize the annual Youth Summit, engaging LGBTQ+ young people from across the state. OutFront Minnesota creates a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment, or discrimination.

Pillsbury United Communities (Minneapolis) | $15,000 — To fund the Sisterhood Boutique, a social enterprise store that accepts donations of gently used clothing for resale and builds pathways to self-discovery and 21st century skills for East African girls and young women that honors their cultures and centers their personal goals. Pillsbury United Communities co-creates enduring change toward a just society.

St. Paul Youth Services (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To continue supporting young Black women as they organize virtually and advocate for serious change on issues affecting their lives and growing digital engagement and storytelling while earning a living wage. St. Paul Youth Services improves our community’s collective ability to engage and support all youth by pioneering and sharing best practices.

The SEAD Project (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To support the SEA Change Lab and its alumni network, building the next generation of Southeast Asian (SEA) leaders through arts and storytelling for SEA youth, ages 12 to 25. The SEAD Project is committed to providing culturally safe and conducive learning environments to build key career pathways using cultural identity and social empowerment.

Women for Political Change Education Fund (WFPC) (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To facilitate small virtual gatherings of the YWI Network for the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota with programming relevant to disabled folks, rural communities, LGBTQ+ people, and Indigenous folks. WFPC holistically invests in the leadership and political power of young women, trans, and nonbinary individuals throughout Minnesota.

Violence Intervention Project (Thief River Falls) | $15,000 — For the youth-led advisory panel to recruit young women and youth ages 12 to 18 in their five-county service area to create awareness and develop strategies to reduce violence and exploitation in schools and communities and support young women to find and share their voices as they build their sense of agency and power through digital outreach. The Violence Intervention Project serves victims of domestic and sexual violence through crisis call response, emergency assistance, advocacy support, shelter, supervised visitation services, and other housing support.

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