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Uniting Behind a Common Goal: Creating Safe and Prosperous lives with Young Women

We will raise awareness, inspire action, drive change, and create opportunities and equity in outcomes for young women.

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The Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) is a public-private partnership between the Women's Foundation of Minnesota and the Governor's Office of the State of Minnesota. The work will be driven by a cross-sector partnership of nonprofits, businesses, government, philanthropies, and young women themselves to build equity in outcomes for young women in our state, allowing them to lead safe, prosperous lives. YWI MN is also a participating member of a national collaborative of eight public women’s foundations working together on key strategies to drive opportunity and equity in outcomes for young women in their respective regions and states.

YWI MN has four goals:

  • Build pathways to opportunity and future economic security for young women in Minnesota through increased high school graduation rates and post-secondary attainment.
  • Decrease violence and harmful cultural norms that young women face at home, school, and in the community.
  • Ensure young women are viewed as assets in our communities, participate in civic engagement, and develop their leadership.
  • Engage and mobilize the public to shift policies, systems, attitudes, and behaviors to increase young women's prosperity and well-being.

Explain your idea

As a catalyst, convener, connector, and collaborator, the Women's Foundation of Minnesota will develop an Action Plan and will invest in research, grantmaking, policy, field-building and strategic communications to drive implementation of the initiative. We will research gaps and spotlight structural barriers; connect, build, and sustain strong partnerships; enable programming and best practices; inspire innovative work and policy change; engage and mobilize the public as partners-in-change; and create a Prosperity & Well-Being Index to measure our success. Investing in innovation requires us to invest in groundbreaking, root-cause removal of structural barriers to ensure systems are accessible and hold equal opportunity for all, and that new institutions and programs are built to deliver better results.

Who Benefits?

All women in Minnesota - especially those who face the greatest disparities: young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ youth, and young women with disabilities. In addition, our work in the national collaborative of eight public women’s foundations ensures that we are all working together on key strategies and sharing best practices to ensure the same equity in outcomes for young women in their respective regions and states. While we drive gender equity because women and girls remain at the heart of our mission, we know that men and boys must be part of the solution, and that gender equity benefits all of us.

How is your idea unique?

The Foundation’s leadership to invest in innovation to drive gender equity is both powerful and successful for two reasons: its intersectional approach and its use of a collective-impact model to build effective cross-sector partnerships. The Foundation knows that no one sector can solve pressing community issues alone. Inequity is intersectional and rooted in systemic gender, racial, and economic inequities, while its effects and opportunities for prevention exist within a complex, cross-sector field of public agencies, businesses, nonprofits, philanthropy, and citizens. Our intersectional approach enables us to ask a comprehensive set of questions to identify core problems and target resources to invest in the most innovative solutions to drive gender equity.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is the first and largest statewide women’s foundation in the country. As a statewide community foundation, it is our mission to invest in innovation to drive gender equity in Minnesota. We aim to create a world of equal opportunity where women and girls – and all people – hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives. Through annual statewide grantmaking, research, and policy, the Foundation is building pathways to economic security for women and girls who experience the greatest disparities in outcomes, particularly low-income women and girls, women and girls of color, and women and girls from Greater Minnesota. Through our grantmaking, we fund “systems change.” This means we make grants to programs that result in shifts in individual, cultural, and community attitudes and behaviors, and shifts in institutions and policies that serve as barriers to gender equity. In other words, we do not fund direct service programs. Rather, we invest in front-end of the pipeline, permanent solutions to the root causes of gender inequity, including sexism, racism, poverty, violence, homophobia, health disparities, and lack of women’s leadership — complex problems that impact women and girls, families and communities. We also measure and evaluate the social change we affect with specific indicators for tracking progress, and we promote building philanthropy for gender equity and provide our donors with important tools to help shape an equitable society. Together, our collective contributions are eliminating barriers and building pathways to prosperity and security for all of the state’s women and girls. Our vision is to create a world of equal opportunity where women and girls – and all people – hold the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of eldy wullur

Hello Courtney,
Any effort to empower young women admirable. A lot of turmoil at that time who were later very regrettable. Therefore it is fitting for this program are distributed throughout the world, so that women do not take shortcuts astray.