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Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota 

Launched by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in partnership with the Governor’s Office in 2016, the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) centers the leadership and solutions of young Black, Indigenous, and women of color, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities. YWI MN aims to eliminate the barriers young women and gender-expansive people face.

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota won’t just change the lives of young women and gender-expansive people. It will change Minnesota. For good.

Impact Since 2016


invested in 55 organizations, 58% led by women of color


women engaged in Young Women’s Cabinet to build leadership and ground the YWI in their lived experiences


original research reports published focused on young women’s leadership and solutions


microgrants directly invested in 104 Innovators

Claiming Our Power

As part of Women’s History Month, the Governor-appointed Young Women’s Cabinet hosted community supporters for Young Women’s Day at the Capitol. The Governor and Lt. Governor declared March 9th Young Women’s Initiative Day in Minnesota.

Hilal Ibrahim

Innovator Hilal Ibrahim Leads Culture Change

Hilal Ibrahim leads culture change through her social enterprise company, Henna and Hijabs (H&H) and is one example of why WFM invests in young women leaders to drive systems change for holistic well-being.

She the People Event

She the People, She the Movement

For me, attending the She the People Summit solely for my personal development and leadership meant taking a chance to do something I rarely do.

Leaders in Driving Change

Young Women’s Cabinet

The Young Women’s Cabinet, appointed by the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor, is comprised of young women and youth leaders (ages 16-24) from eight communities across Minnesota and ensures that the work of the Young Women’s Initiative stays grounded in the lived experiences of the young women and youth from each community and the community-specific challenges and solutions they identified in the Blueprint for Action. The Cabinet has engaged in leadership development, been trained as policy advocates, and has directed more than $3 million in grants to nonprofits and individuals to advance equity. The YWCA St. Paul works with the Young Women’s Cabinet to provide leadership development.


The Innovators program directly funds the vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and leadership of young women and gender-expansive people whose leadership, ideas, and solutions advance key recommendations in the 
YWI MN Blueprint for Action. The capacity-building cohort model with leadership development convenings and yearlong individual coaching is instrumental in maximizing program impact to strengthen their leadership and agency as they launch nonprofits, create community programming, and grow their own businesses. 
The program is being replicated at eight women’s foundations across the country.

Executive Council for YWI

The Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative comprises cross-sector leaders from government, business, higher education, philanthropy, and communities across Minnesota. The role of the Executive Council, in partnership with the Cabinet, is to sequence the Blueprint for Action and catalyze resources to move the recommendations forward.

National Partnership

The Women’s Foundation is the founding member of the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives. Women’s foundations across the country are leading young women’s initiatives in their communities – and replicating our successful Innovator program – so young women and gender-expansive people everywhere can thrive.

National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiative

How it Works

We are on a mission to create a Minnesota where every young woman+ thrives.

Blueprint for Action

In 2016, we commissioned the University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach Center to conduct community action research to create a blueprint of community-centered solutions with young women from eight communities across the state.

In 2017, the Women’s Foundation published the YWI MN Blueprint for Action to create and advance opportunities for and with young women in Minnesota. The Blueprint’s 20 recommendations illuminate a pathway to achieve equity in opportunities and ensure that all young women can thrive.

Together, we are building a powerful, cross-sector movement led with and by young women driving solutions and change now, community by 
community, across Minnesota.

You can make a difference for young women in Minnesota with a gift today.

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