The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) announced an investment of $312,500 in one-time general operating grants to 13 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 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. All WFMN grants support general operating expenses, which provide greater flexibility for organizations in a time of heightened need and demand for services. Funding general operations is crucial for organizations to build stability around community-sustaining programs.
In addition, WFMN awarded a $75,000 grant to YWCA St. Paul to continue building leadership and advocacy skills with the Young Women’s Cabinet, who ground YWI MN in the lived experiences and expertise of young women and communities. The grant provides $15/hour payment to all 24 members for participation in the Cabinet and strengthens engagement with the Young Women’s Initiative across the state. In partnership with Best Buy, WFMN also awarded $143,173 to uCodeGirl for the implementation of YWI Dream STEM Lead, a leadership program to increase young Black, Indigenous, and women of color, ages 16 to 24, on the pathway to STEM fields.
In total, the awards represent an investment of $530,673 through the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota.
“Investing in young women at the intersection of identities makes a difference for families, communities, and the future of Minnesota. Community-led organizations hold wisdom, vision, and solutions, and these investments build power with them to increase opportunities for young women. When women, girls, and gender-expansive people thrive, Minnesota thrives,” said Nina Robertson, director of systems change at WFMN.
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. YWI MN is on a mission to create a Minnesota where every young woman thrives with economic opportunity, safety, and leadership.
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) (Virginia) | $25,000 — To build a new program for youth and young women participants of AEOA’s Youth Programs, which will include weekly group meetings, community service opportunities, and outdoor challenge activities, and focus on teaching independent living skills through experiential education, teamwork, and individual counseling. AEOA strengthens communities by providing opportunities for people experiencing social and economic challenges.
Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP) (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To build a program for young Asian leaders who have the tools, relationships, experience, and confidence to resist oppression and imagine and build a more just future for their communities by advocating for change in their families, schools, neighborhoods, communities, and city. AAOP empowers young Asian Minnesotans to create systems of change for an equitable, conscious, and just society.
discapacitados abriéndose caminos (d.a.c.) (South St. Paul) | $25,000 — To build an education program that conducts advocacy in a wide array of systems and provides linkages to special education, health clinics, disability resources, social services, economic assistance, access to health care coverage, emergency medical assistance, mental health, and legal recourse. 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 build programs that nurture and guide youth; foster physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy families; support elders; prevent family violence; offer supportive housing to long-term foster care boys; and address hunger issues. DIW programs serve low-income American Indian youth ages 11-20 who reside in the Twin Cities 7-county metro area.
Family Tree Clinic (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build a center that provides sexual health and education incorporating trauma-informed design and healing artwork from local BIPOC and LGBTQ artists. The program will support the new building, which will allow the clinic to increase programming, eventually serving an additional 10,000 people per year. Family Tree Clinic is a nonprofit sexual and reproductive health clinic whose mission is to cultivate a healthy community through comprehensive sexual health care and education.
Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and River Valleys (St. Paul) | $18,750 — To build culturally responsive programming that accommodates girls’ differing interests and needs, including volunteer-led Girl Scout troops, experiential learning events like STEM and Girl Scout Camp, and Community Engagement initiatives designed with and for girls and families of color. The ConnectZ and mentored troop initiatives partner with volunteers, schools, and community sites to deliver accessible leadership programs to 1,800 girls of color in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.
Hope Community (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build the Clubhouse to Careers (C2C) program in which girls and young women of color age 16-20 build STEM knowledge, workplace readiness skills, and individual career pathways. The curriculum includes STEM-skills training, social and emotional learning, leadership training, cultural and self-identity development, project-based explorations of racial and social justice, and a paid summer internship to apply skills in a workplace setting.
MIGIZI Communications (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build the First Person Productions Media and Green Jobs Pathways programs, which will increase young Native women with access to paid internships. For over 44 years, MIGIZI has served American Indian youth in innovative programs that are culturally grounded, participatory, and fully engage youth in a self-directed path to holistic wellness and success in education and employment.
OutFront Minnesota Community Services (Minneapolis) | $18,750 — To build collective programs (Anti-Violence Program, Educational Equity Program, and Policy & Organizing Program) advancing systems change for LGBTQ+ girls and women. OutFront trains leaders of all ages to advocate to improve systems at schools and workplaces, and trains thousands of organizations on best practices for inclusive and equitable environments that impact policies and their implementation.
St. Paul Youth Services (SPYS) (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To build a program that offers physical and digital organizing hubs where Black youth can reflect, build skills, organize, and advocate for change on issues that affect their lives. SPYS creates systemic change for youth through programs focused on early intervention in schools and in the community.
The Power of People Leadership Institute (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build a new program that connects girls to positive caring adults through weekly small group mentoring, which combines personal power, leadership development, service learning, and career coaching to decrease risk factors among girls of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The Power of People Leadership Institute teaches participants how to use their most critical asset – personal power – to overcome life’s negative circumstances and use critical thinking to change their life trajectory.
Southeast Asian Diaspora Project (SEAD) (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build a program bringing together and supporting a community of emerging artists from the Southeast Asian diaspora in Minnesota and nationally. The eight-week program convenes a cohort of artists in a series of workshops focused on artistic mediums and professional skillsets for pursuing creative careers. The SEAD Project creates safe and welcoming spaces for Southeast Asian diaspora communities to share and explore their culture to address community challenges through activism, engagement, and community building.
Violence Intervention Project (VIP) (Thief River Falls) | $25,000 — To build programs offering multilevel services to maintain safety including Orders for Protection and safety planning for victim-survivors of domestic violence. For 30 years, VIP has been a domestic and sexual violence organization working in the rural communities of northwest Minnesota.