The social media feeds of attendees to the first Young Women’s Initiative Network Pop Up, a networking group created by Women for Political Change (WFPC) with support from a grant from Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, buzzed with excitement and positivity.

“The YWI Kickoff today was so inspiring! The community they’ve created is powerful, I feel so blessed to be a part of it. There is tenderness and intention in everything WFPC does,” tweeted Brittany Douglas. Another attendee shared that she enjoyed being in a space that “allows me to be me without judgment.”

On January 25 at Paikka, an event space in St. Paul, the YWI Network Pop Up drew more than 70 young women, trans, and nonbinary individuals to a program centered around the theme of intentionality. As a meeting place for Minnesota’s young women leaders and changemakers, the first YWI Network Pop Up brought together past, present, and future participants of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) in a space created by and for young women, trans, and nonbinary individuals. A first-of-its-kind partnership between the Women’s Foundation and the Governor’s Office, YWI MN is on a mission to create a Minnesota where every young woman thrives – with economic opportunity, safety, and leadership.

The theme of intentionality was chosen as a way to pause and reflect on the kind of world and the year we want to envision. The gathering featured a panel of Young Women’s Cabinet and WFMN Innovators alumnae focused on intentionality, how they got to where they are, and what it meant to do generational work. Other activities included a poetry reading, photo station for professional headshots, networking, merchandise, and a guided activity in making a zine that will be used as a resource and journal.

United by their excitement to enjoy a shared space with other young people who envision a Minnesota that works for everyone, attendees expressed their appreciation and moving reflections on what it meant to participate in an event that was broadly inclusive.

“It just dawned on me that the #YWI kickoff event with @WNWFPC yesterday, was the first social event that I’ve ever been to where there were other people with physical disabilities. This is so powerful, yet so sad. Thankful to Women for Political Change & @WomensFndnMN for inclusivity,” tweeted Hope Hoffman, who also spoke on a panel at the event.

The YWI Network will continue to be a way to bring together those interested in staying connected with the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota through networking, professional development, and movement building.

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) knows there is more to MN when we invest in the leadership and ideas of young women, which is why direct investments to young women of color and women of color-led organizations is an important part of WFMN’s grantmaking strategy. Using funding from a WFMN Innovator grant, Felicia Philibert incorporated Women for Political Change (WFPC) in 2018. As a groundbreaking nonprofit by and for young women, WFPC holistically advances the leadership and political power of young women and trans and nonbinary individuals throughout Minnesota, which is why in late 2019 the Women’s Foundation made a grant to WFPC to hold the YWI Network. WFPC’s grant received allowed them to hire Young Women’s Cabinet member and YWI Innovator Teighlor McGee as the YWI Network Program Coordinator. Teighlor coordinated the entire event, programming, and logistics to create a successful launch.

YWI Network events will continue through 2020, led by Women for Political Change. Visit the YWI Network page or contact YWI@womenforpoliticalchange.org for more information about joining the YWI Network. More photos from the event, taken by Trista Marie photography, can be found on Women for Political Change’s Facebook page.

By Cynthia J. Zapata, WFMN Community Impact Program Manager

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