Y-WE helped me to grow confident in my own skin and love who I am. —Y-WE Participant

Our History

Y-WE was born out of the enthusiasm and determination of the young women we serve. In 2010, we offered a seven-month pilot leadership program. It was so successful that the girls, mentors, teachers and youth workers who participated in that pilot banded together to form an organization that would offer year-round programs for girls and women. We have grown rapidly since then. After generous fiscal sponsorships, we have operated as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 2015.

Thanks to the visionary leadership of our participants and the generous support of donors, we are growing into a mid-sized organization that provides a wide variety of innovative programs and events.

Video made possible by: Christina Antonakos-Wallace (Producer/Director), Elliat Graney-Saucke (Editor/Audio), Diego Castello & Jarod Langdon (Director of Photography)

Who We Serve

Y-WE’s mentorship-based empowerment programs serve diverse young women, non-binary, and gender expansive youth ages 13-26. We are an intersectional feminist organization that welcomes youth of all racial identities, but centers the experiences of BIPOC women. Our participants hold a wide variety of identities, many of whom are queer, trans, BIPOC, first or second generation immigrants, and more.

Y-WE affirms the lived experiences of trans, gender non-conforming, gender non-binary, intersex, and gender variant participants. You are welcome at Y-WE. 

For more information on the action steps we are taking to better support our gender expansive community members, please see our Gender Inclusion Policy.  

A Community of Belonging

Y-WE is a collaborative organization that strives for justice and liberation. Our programming supports young people from all backgrounds – centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ youth who often experience society’s greatest inequities. Y-WE is a safe place to be ourselves as we learn, grow, and thrive in community.

In our work towards a more equitable world, we provide an environment for young women to find their voice, and therefore – their power.

Y-WE has been a place where I can bring my fullest, most authentic, imperfect, goofy, serious, sad, happy self and be greeted with love and warmth and acceptance from every angle, and encouraged to grow and sit in all of who I am.

—Y-WE Participant

Working at the Intersection of Race, Class and Gender

Our programs link racial injustice to environmental and economic injustice, as well as patriarchy and homophobia. We interrogate pervasive assumptions of racism and sexism while exploring the power of creative dialogue and action to deepen our lives as global citizens, connected to each other. We create a healing community space that welcomes the lived experience of our diverse participants.

Our Model

Because Y-WE is a majority women-of-color-led organization, we have collective lived experience to bring to our programs. We are creating the community and programming that we wish our teenage selves had.  This enables us to listen carefully to the needs of our youth, and advocate for what we see and hear from them. That is why our programming focuses on:

Belonging

Making sure that each youth can find a community where they KNOW they are centered. Our programs have BIPOC facilitators, teachers, and mentors who believe in our mission and often identify with our youth’s backgrounds.

Wellness

Ensuring each youth has access to mental health care and advocating for their basic needs. We always have a social worker and a nurse available at every camp to offer the safest, healthiest experience possible.

Thriving

We want to eliminate obstacles and provide the tools young people need to be empowered as leaders of our community. We have low-barrier programs that offer no-cost camps, transportation assistance, snacks and meals.

Finding One’s Voice

Youth develop confident self-expression and mutual understanding through creative workshops, trainings, and community conversations. Youth learn to speak about their beliefs and find ways to help their communities.

Leadership

Youth develop leadership skills as they plan and lead workshops and community events, and shape program development. Training addresses topics such as public speaking, advocacy, institutional power and facilitation skills.

Y-WE is the community I never knew I needed.

— Y-WE Youth
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*those who identify as women or girls or who were assigned female at birth