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About the Initiative

A Statewide Model to Create Equity

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.

First YWI members

Creating the Initiative

We’re on a mission to create a Minnesota where every young woman thrives.

Advancing Opportunities with Young Women

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 Action. Young 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.

“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
Former Cabinet Member, Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota

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 the successful WFMN Innovator program – so young women everywhere can thrive.

National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiative

Celebrating Young Women of color & Indigenous Leadership

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.

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.

Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative

The Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative comprises more than 40 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.

YWI Innovators

The WFMN 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.

Get Involved

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