Through Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, Women’s Foundation invests total of $514,000

Today, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) announced an investment of $414,000 in one-time, general operating grants to 16 organizations serving girls and young women, ages 12-24. In addition, WFMN awarded a $100,000 grant to YWCA St. Paul to provide leadership development and support to the Young Women’s Cabinet and $15/hour payment to all 25 members for participation on the Cabinet. The total awards equal $514,000.

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.

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. The goal of YWI MN is to create a Minnesota where every girl thrives and is the champion of her own life.

Last week, the Foundation announced $55,000 in grants to elevate the leadership of individual young women through one-time microgrants of $2,500 directly to 22 young women, ages 14-24, who represent the first cohort of WFMN Innovators.

“The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota has a bold and necessary vision to create a Minnesota where young women of color and from all marginalized communities thrive. Our grantmaking is one part of making that vision a reality,” said Lulete Mola, director of community impact.

In total, the awards represent an investment of $514,000 through YWI MN.

Grantee-Partners:

Casa de Esperanza (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To build capacity for Casa’s primary initiative for girls and young women, Fuerza Unida Amig@s, which celebrates the cultural identity and develops the leadership skills of young Latinas. Casa trains new cohorts of girls to become Amig@s (peer leaders) through an intensive two-week culturally based leadership training curriculum that teaches participants to identify and create healthy relationships and live free from violence. After the training, Amig@s meet weekly throughout the school year to expand learning and discuss topics important to their wellbeing. Participants plan and implement community action projects to share their knowledge with peers, families, and communities, incorporating financial literacy education and career exploration.

Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys (Minneapolis and Southeastern Minnesota) | $25,000 — To build capacity and new components of the Connect Z program in Minneapolis, Rochester, Worthington, and Austin. ConnectZ’s culturally-responsive leadership program engages 2,700 girls a year in diverse and low-income communities in the Twin Cities area and southern Minnesota. ConnectZ programming encompasses health and wellness, citizenship and advocacy, financial education and entrepreneurship, STEM, leadership and mentorship, and college and career readiness.

Honor the Earth (Callaway, White Earth Nation) | $25,000 — To work with young women on projects to reindigenize the local economy and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Project paths to empowerment and self-sufficiency include redevelopment of Native arts, such as a training and hiring local artists to paint several murals throughout the Pine Point community and beyond; harvesting, processing, and selling indigenous foods, such as wild rice and maple syrup; and working to build community energy independence through weatherization, solarization, and long-range energy planning in order to provide family-sustaining local jobs, while addressing extreme energy poverty.

Hope Community (Minneapolis) | $32,000 — To support the Clubhouse-to-Career (C2C) Pathways to Success program focused on young women at Hope Community’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center. C2C Pathways builds on the success of the Clubhouse model and draws on Clubhouse experience and Best Buy expertise to support the global need for a trained and ready workforce, especially in STEM fields and careers. The work of the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers will help to create a curriculum focused on college and career preparation, provide an inaugural class of Teen Tech Center members with a competency-based certification, specific tech skills, workforce development, and creative competencies skills training, and share best practices across The Clubhouse Network.

MIGIZI Communications, Inc. (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To increase the number of young women served by programming, creating access for young women to participate in paid internships in living wage jobs and careers. The Native Visions programming trains youth in the indigenized version of mind/body medicine that uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health and help people of all ages cope with historical and current trauma through the integration of Native healing medicines and practices. Youth women also participate and lead First Person Productions, MIGIZI’s social media enterprise that provides new media training and production that builds pathways to career in media production.

MN Urban Debate League, Augsburg University (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build capacity for current and new programming to work with young women through Minnesota debate and advocacy workshops and Spanish language and Somali cultural debate programs. New activities for MN Urban Debate League include presenting post-secondary education opportunities to undocumented or DACA recipients and piloting financial literacy debates with girls and gender nonconforming students.

Navigate MN (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build capacity of the Poder (Power) Fellowship, a paid leadership development program that provides organizing tools for individuals challenged by the immigration and education system. Participants of the program receive community organizing training in different disciplines and ideologies, including systems change and decentralized movement building. Participants will develop critical thinking and analytical skills in the areas of race, class, and gender so they may develop campaigns and community- based, women-led solutions.

OutFront Minnesota (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To grow the capacity for the Gay Straight Alliance Network, which includes 150 middle and high schools, and the Anti-Violence Program to end violence and harassment against and within LGBTQ communities in the metro and across the state. In the effort to make Minnesota a place where all people are valued, OutFront engages in community education, direct service, organizing, and policy advocacy and provides a 24-hour crisis line for survivors of violence.

PACER Center (Bloomington)| $25,000 — To empower middle school girls with disabilities in the fields of math, science, and engineering through hands-on learning led by community partners in the EX.I.T.E. (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) program, a division of PACER’s Simon Technology Center.

Pillsbury United Communities – Brian Coyle Center (Minneapolis) | $32,000 — To support Clubhouse-to-Career (C2C) Pathways to Success program focused on young women at Brian Coyle Community Center’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center. C2C Pathways builds on the success of the Clubhouse model and draws on Clubhouse experience and Best Buy expertise to support the global need for a trained and ready workforce, especially in STEM fields and careers. The work of the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers will help to create a curriculum focused on college and career preparation, provide an inaugural class of Teen Tech Center members with a competency-based certification, specific tech skills, workforce development, and creative competencies skills training, and share best practices across The Clubhouse Network.

Power of the People Leadership Institute (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To build capacity for career coaching, workplace tours, and college preparation for Girls in Action – an academic, leadership, and behavioral intervention program for low-performing students in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chaska, Fridley, Robbinsdale, and Brooklyn Center. The Power of People Leadership Institute (POPLI) is a grassroots, community-based organization that was created to respond to two critical needs in communities of color.

St. Paul Youth Services (St. Paul) | $25,000 — To grow the capacity for St. Paul Youth Services and its YouthPower initiative. As a youth-led organizing and advocacy hub, YouthPower is a space where Black girls are centered and participate in a curriculum focused on identity, culture, healing, history, personal power, and goal setting. The content enhances their personal growth and identity, shapes their narratives, and informs their strategies for political and community change.

The SEAD (Southeast Asian Diaspora Development) Project (Minneapolis)| $25,000 — To build capacity as an accessible community hub that provides streamlined cross-cultural workshops, exchanges, and knowledge-sharing for the Khmer, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese diaspora communities. The SEAD Project engages young women in storytelling workshops and mentorship with the belief that understanding of identity, roots, and language increases overall economic wellbeing.

uCodeGirl (Fargo) | $25,000 —To support year-round, skills-based programs for middle and high school young women designed to inspire, engage, and equip young women in their communities with leadership traits, computational thinking skills, and an entrepreneurial mindset. The program provides opportunities for young women to learn from female professionals through coding, design, web development, and robotics projects. The program engages young women through a leadership council, and will increase capacity through mentoring, leadership opportunities, and out-of-school tutoring.

Women Organizing Women Network (Minneapolis) | $25,000 — To address Somali women’s underrepresentation in public and leadership, grow the Dumar (Women) Leadership Model and engage younger generations of first- and second-generation east African immigrant women as civic and political leaders in their communities through leadership training.

YWCA of Minneapolis (Minneapolis)| $25,000 — To support EUREKA!, a 5-year program for students in grades 8 to 12 focused on STEM activities, leadership development through internships, and connecting young women to female STEM professionals. Topics include STEM activities, leadership development, economic literacy, and comprehensive sexual health, including healthy relationships, and positive decision-making and communication skills.

YWCA of St. Paul (St. Paul) | $100,000 — To build on the strength of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN), YWCA St. Paul provides leadership development support and programming facilitation to Young Women’s Cabinet members and $15/hour payment to all 25 Cabinet members to compensate them for their participation.

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