By Kate Thompson
Y-WE is Beloved Community! When you get involved with Y-WE in any way, you join a passionate intergenerational and multicultural group of women, ages 13 and up, wholeheartedly committed to advancing their communities and the world through education, creativity, and leadership training. This work is groundbreaking, vital and a true pride for Seattle and the world. When I hear these vibrant young women tell their breathtaking stories of vision and transformation, it is inspiring and gives me great hope for the future of women and the world.
Jamie-Rose Edwards co-founded Young Women Empowered in 2010, after her daughter Amirra was born. Jamie-Rose knew she needed to do something groundbreaking for Amirra and for all young women for generations to come. she helped to build Y-WE, and it is thriving. Here Amirra will grow up with a wide range of role models and mentors. She can be the woman of her own dreams while at her side she has a lot of courageous and inspiring sisters and allies of all genders.
Mission: Y-WE empowers young women from diverse backgrounds to step up as leaders in their schools, communities, and the world. We do this through intergenerational mentorship, intercultural collaboration, and creative programs that equip girls with the confidence, resiliency, and leadership skills needed to achieve their goals and improve their communities.
Who Y-WE serves: Y-WE's mentorship and empowerment programs serve diverse girls, ages 13-18, young adult women, and adult women mentors, ages 19-70+, in the greater Seattle area, including King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Island counties. Each year, Y-WE directly serves more than 650 girls and women and benefits over 2000 community members. Of current Y-WE youth, 60% are first or second-generation immigrants, 80% are of color, and 90% are from low-income backgrounds.
Why Y-WE exists: Underserved girls in the Seattle area suffer a lack of access and face cultural barriers to empowerment. Studies show that over 90% of adolescent girls experience a significant drop in selfesteem and feel they have "lost their voice." Within a vibrant, multicultural community of girls and women, Y-WE seeks to empower young women in all its programs to become leaders who effect positive change in their communities. Y-WE wants diverse girls to find their voices, gain knowledge and skills, develop self-confidence, express themselves creatively, explore academic and career pathways, and forge strong bonds within a supportive community. YWE's young women leaders are committed to creating a compassionate and just world.
Y-WE Lead (core eight-month leadership and empowerment program includes workshops, retreats, service, Health Day, Career Day, creative arts, movement (dance, yoga), and more. In 2016-17, will serve 65+ girls, 35 mentors/facilitators, and engage 200+ additional women and girls.)
Y-WE Create (Weeklong creative arts and design camp delivered with foundry10.)
Y-WE Write (Weeklong summer creative writing camp delivered with Hedgebrook and Whidbey Institute.)
Y-WE Nature Connections (Year-round environmental learning, stewardship and outdoor explorations.)
Youth Leadership Council (Young women represent Y-WE at board meetings, workshops and conferences.)
Academic and Career Explorations (Eight-month program provides after-school academic support, tutoring, internships and college/career readiness activities.)
Y-WE is unique because it:
- Provides equal access to programs for women and girls from all walks of life.
- Provides transportation, scholarships, & nutritious food at every event.
- Provides consistent group mentorship from diverse adult role models who share their professional expertise, personal advice, and networks.
- Builds long-lasting friendships and "positive girl-culture" between participants from different neighborhoods, religions, cultures, economic backgrounds, and generations.
- Listens to the youth it serves, includes young women in organizational leadership, and reshapes program content based upon their feedback.
- Partners with other organizations like UW Bothell, Seattle Repertory Theater and Hedgebrook (where women author change) to offer young women access to education and the arts.
- Incorporates PYE Global's (Partners for Youth Empowerment) proven "creative community model" to build self-confidence, encourage collaboration, and promote social justice through artistic expression.