Our Purpose is a six-week storytelling and fundraising campaign with the goal of connecting to the core of Y-WE’s transformative work with youth. To help advance our collective vision and reach our fundraising goal of $150,000 to power our programs, make your gift today!
“When I found [this] community, I was just so happy. And I felt invited and like I had a purpose and that I should belong there.”-Ri’Chara Mitchell, Y-WE Alum
Y-WE is unique in the depth and longevity with which we serve our youth. Our small cohort, high-touch programs for young women and gender-expansive youth ages 13-26 are designed to build community while accompanying them along the ups and downs of adolescence and into adulthood. This allows us to build relationships and grow their participation and leadership over time.
In today’s installment of Our Purpose campaign, we’re featuring insights from Y-WE alum, Ri’Chara Mitchell (she/her). Ri’Chara participated in our programming for over four years, including Y-WE Tech, Write, and Black Girls Matter mentorship. She went on to serve as a mentor and Y-WE intern and is now pursuing a degree in computer science at Willamette University. Ri’Chara’s participation in Y-WE Tech sparked a passion for computers that she’s continuing to pursue in college, and Y-WE’s community of belonging was central.
“I just felt like I could be accepted as somebody that’s super into computers but is also a Black woman… everything [about me] was embraced immediately… When I found [this] community, I was just so happy. And I felt invited and like I had a purpose and that I should belong there.”
Prior to joining Y-WE, Ri’Chara says accessibility issues and socioeconomic status hindered her access to technology. “If it weren’t for that nurturing spirit that [Y-WE Tech facilitator] Meera had, and if it weren’t for that community of people that also even just looked like me or wanted to have the same interest as me in Y-WE Tech, I just wouldn’t have felt that passion or that drive to continue what I really wanted to do.”
This underscores why Y-WE programs are free of charge, with support such as transportation assistance, healthy food, disability access, and mental health support. “Y-WE was so perfect and so different in the way that they would also have the staff check on me, have these wellness checks – all this stuff made me feel like I was being taken care of, rather than just being in a space where I’m only used for my academic talent.”
So what makes Y-WE’s community different than other spaces? Says Ri’Chara: “Definitely the people – Just having people that either look like me or are part of the POC [People of Color] community or just women in general. I haven’t really experienced a lot of it in the past four years, especially with wanting to go into the computer science field… I feel so isolated when I’m in those spaces.”
Y-WE reminds young women and gender expansive teens in uncertain times that they are valuable, worthy, and powerful. “I just really felt like my words were being heard and these people wanted me to be here,” says Ri’Chara. “It’s that sense of having a voice, and I felt like my voice was being heard at Y-WE.”