Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota

A Statewide Model to Create Equity

We’re on a mission to create a Minnesota where every young woman thrives. Launched by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in partnership with the Governor’s Office in 2016, the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment that centers the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities.

Advancing Opportunities with Young Women in Minnesota

In 2017, the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota published a Blueprint for Action to create and advance opportunities for and with young women in Minnesota. The Blueprint’s 20 recommendations map a pathway forward to achieve equity in opportunities and ensure that all young women can thrive.

Designed to be as participatory and inclusive as possible, two core committees help drive the Blueprint forward: Young Women’s Cabinet and Young Women’s Initiative Council. Through the WFMN Innovators program, the Women’s Foundation provides one-time microgrants of $2,500 directly to young women (ages 16-24) to support their leadership and to drive their ideas and solutions that advance recommendations in the Blueprint for ActionYoung Women’s Initiative of Minnesota 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 Blueprint for Action recommendations.

Measuring Progress: The Initiative will also measure and evaluate the progress made over time in Minnesota toward equity, and will continue to produce research to better understand the lives of young women in communities, identify assets and barriers, and fund solutions across the state.

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 so young women of color everywhere can thrive.

National YWI Collaborative Map

From Our Community Talk Bubble | WFMN

  • “Everyone should care, because it’s a problem that’s not only affecting women. It’s a problem that’s affecting everyone. It’s not just a Minnesota problem. It’s a national problem. It’s a problem that’s going around everywhere.”
    Silver Moran-Stewart
    Cabinet Member, Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota
  • “The Young Women’s Initiative is about reaching out to women, giving them resources, giving them the help that they need to succeed, and empowering them in a meaningful way.”
    Grace Maruska
    Cabinet Member, Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota
  • “We want every young woman in Minnesota – and every Minnesotan – to have access to equal opportunity in order to create and lead safe and prosperous lives. We know that when young women do better, their communities do better, and we all do better.”
    Lee Roper-Batker
    Former Foundation President & CEO
YWI MN Blueprint For Action PDF
Our Work

Blueprint for Action

Built with community partners, based on community-specific listening sessions, and funded through Women’s Foundation investments, the Blueprint for Action proposes community-led solutions to advance opportunities and start eliminating barriers for young women in Minnesota.

View the Blueprint

Listening Sessions

From November 2015 to December 2016, the Women’s Foundation convened nine listening sessions featuring young women and advocates from the Somali and East African, American Indian, African American, Latina, Hmong and Karen, LGBTQ, disabilities, and northern and southern Greater Minnesota communities. The sessions enabled each community to form its own panels to allow for deeper conversation around economics, racism and culture, school and education, societal and gender norms, safety, and health.

We know problems and solutions are found in the same place and hearing directly from young women and youth is an important part of finding solutions. The information gathered from the sessions helps the Foundation develop a statewide agenda for gender and racial equity and increase resources for girls and women across Minnesota with the greatest disparities in outcomes. The qualitative data we gained from the listening sessions is instrumental in driving the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN).

Listening Sessions Storyboards | WFMN

Check out these listening session storyboards and more in our research ›

Listening Session | Volume I | WFMN

Listening to Young Women of Color, Youth, & Advocates: Volume I

Listening Session | Volume II | WFMN

Listening to Young Women of Color, Youth, & Advocates: Volume II

Listening Session | Volume III | WFMN

Listening to Young Women of Color, Youth, & Advocates: Volume III

Listening Session | Executive Summary | WFMN

Listening to Young Women of Color, Youth, & Advocates: Executive Summary

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Young Women’s Cabinet

The Young Women’s Cabinet, comprised of up to 32 young women and youth leaders (ages 16-24) from eight communities across Minnesota, is charged with ensuring 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 nearly $1 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.

Young Women’s Initiative MN Council

The Young Women’s Initiative Council comprises more than 40 cross-sector leaders from government, business, higher education, philanthropy, and the community. Members of the Young Women’s Cabinet also sit as co-chairs of the Council. The role of the Council, in partnership with the Cabinet, is to sequence the Blueprint for Action and catalyze resources to move the recommendations forward.

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Get Involved

Become a champion with young women in Minnesota and ensure a better future for all.

Join us!