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Our Process

Grounded in Community – Based on Research

We designed and launched the Young Women’s Initiative in response to a series of community-specific listening sessions with young women from eight communities most impacted by barriers to opportunity. The listening sessions, along with WFMN’s ongoing research, underscored the need and opportunity for a new, intersectional, cross-sector approach to ensure all young women in Minnesota have what they need to thrive.

YWI MN members

Our Response

Greater MSP predicts a significant worker shortage in Minnesota by 2020. This report makes the business case for why young women are key to a future healthy, vibrant Minnesota workforce. Young women are the answer for the skilled workforce we will need.

  • 50,000 of young women in Minnesota are not in the paid labor force.
  • 72% of these young women have more than a high school education.

Young women report a lack of opportunity, access, and support are keeping them from the job market. This is particularly true for young women of color. Together, with young women in the lead, we’re building a pipeline to future prosperity for all.

A Legacy of Listening & Action

Our Innovation & Impact

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota is built out of work the Women’s Foundation has led ensuring economic opportunity, safety, and leadership for all girls and young women in our state since 1990.

Our innovation and impact are undeniable:

  • First research of its kind in the nation calling attention to the well-being of girls, Reflections of Risk: Growing Up Female in Minnesota (1990).
  • Biennial research on the status of women and girls in the state.
  • Statewide, community-specific listening sessions.
  • girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together), the first permanently endowed fund focused on building the future economic success of girls at any women’s foundation in the world.
  • MN Girls Are Not For Sale created a state and national model to end sex trafficking.
  • The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota is designed with and driven by young women because equity in design leads to equity in outcomes.

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.

Listening Sessions

From November 2015 – 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.

Hearing directly from young women and youth is an important part of finding solutions.