Y-WE helped me to grow confident in my own skin and love who I am. —Y-WE Participant
Need and Opportunity
Research shows that girls’ self-confidence peaks at age nine, then drops as they advance through high school.
Y-WE provides a community of belonging for young women* during this stage of life when they are moving toward adulthood, identifying college and career interests, and exploring ways to take action as community changemakers.
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 initial fiscal sponsorship by Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE Global), since 2015 we have operated as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Thanks to the visionary leadership of our participants and the generous support of donors, we have grown into an organization serving 700 participants each year through 12 core programs and a range of community events.
Celebrating 10 Years of Y-WE
Who We Serve
Y-WE’s mentorship-based empowerment programs serve diverse young women ages 13-26, and adult women mentors in the greater Seattle area. Each year, our programs directly serve 700+ girls and women and benefit 2,000+ community members. Of current Y-WE youth, 70% are first or second generation immigrants, 85% are of color and 90% are from low-income backgrounds.
With learning and leadership programs that center marginalized young women, we provide empowerment programs for young women so that they will become leaders who effect positive change in their communities. In Y-WE, young women find their voices, gain skills, develop self-confidence, expand creative expression, explore educational and career pathways, and forge strong bonds within a dynamic intergenerational and intercultural community.
A Community of Belonging
Y-WE is committed to creating a community of belonging as we center young women of color and marginalized youth in all of our work. Y-WE is majority women-of-color-led, and we excel at creating meaningful engagement through culturally relevant programs supported by committed mentors.
The diversity of the Y-WE community includes differences in race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, immigration status, physical ability, life experience, family status and living circumstances. We center young women who often lack access to leadership programs. For us, this means centering participants who are of color; from immigrant communities; from low-income backgrounds; and who identify as LGBTQIA. Our engaged and passionate community works to ensure that Y-WE thrives and benefits young women today and in the future.
Just THANK YOU. I wish the whole world could be as RESPECTFUL as Y-WE. It’s amazing to feel heard and loved and valid and smart and worthy 100% of the time here.—Y-WE Write Youth
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 healing community space that welcomes the lived experience of our diverse participants.
What Strategies Define Our Approach?
We offer programs free of charge, and we invite families to contribute as they are able. Y-WE provides safety, cultural respect, transportation and healthy meals for all programs.
A rich sense of community grows as adult women mentors participate in program activities alongside young women. Mentors model positive risk-taking and a willingness to be transformed.
Finding One’s Voice
Young women 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.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Y-WE integrates the five SEL core competencies (e.g. self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills) that research links to academic and life success.
Young Women’s Leadership
Young women 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.
Creative Empowerment Model
Our facilitation methodology is strongly influenced by Partners for Youth Empowerment’s world-renowned Creative Empowerment Model, which unlocks the power and potential of young people through arts-based learning.
Intergenerational and Intercultural Understanding
Y-WE activities unfold in a supportive community of girls and women from many countries, cultures and religions. We actively explore and learn from each other’s backgrounds and experiences.
Healing in Community
Participants cultivate physical and emotional well-being and resiliency through individual and collective practices, activities and workshops. We work to understand and address individual and collective trauma. Within Y-WE’s community of belonging, young women access joy and power, and emerge as vibrant changemakers.
Y-WE is the community I never knew I needed.— Y-WE Youth