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A Place To Grow Leaders

“Ultimately, I want to help effect change. Otherwise, I will look at myself in the mirror every day and think, ‘What in the world am I doing with my life?” This statement by activist and actress Yara Shahidi reflects a sentiment often found in the Cabinet members of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN).

The Young Women’s Cabinet is comprised of 32 young women* and youth leaders representing the following communities: African American; African Immigrant; American Indian; Asian American/Pacific Islander; Disabilities; Greater Minnesota; Latinx; and LGBTQ+. The Cabinet ensures that the efforts of the Initiative stay grounded in the lived experiences of the young women and youth from each community. The community-specific challenges they face, and any solutions they identify, are influenced by the leadership skills they are building.

Members of the YWI MN are leading change by engaging community and speaking truth to power – ensuring that young women can move from surviving to thriving.  One outcome of their work is a research report identifying the impacts of COVID-19 on young women and girls across the state. Read their report at: Safe, Surviving, and Thriving.

Interested in learning if the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet is right for you? As a Cabinet member, you invest in your own leadership and advocacy skills, as well as personal brand and social capital through a racial and gender equity lens. Together, we are building authentic community with peers and program staff who affirm your identity, your truth, and your lived experiences.  We are working to shape the world we want to see for both present and future generations.

This program is hosted by YWCA St. Paul (which is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women) through a partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Governor’s Office. It offers young leaders the opportunity to create a Minnesota where every young woman can thrive across intersections of race, ethnicity, class, ability, location, education, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Applications for the YWI MN Cabinet are now open and young women (ages 16–24) from across the state—especially those from underrepresented communities—are encouraged to apply for one of the 18 open seats. Applications are available here and will be accepted through Monday, November 2, 2020.

*’Young women’ is inclusive of gender expansive youth: Trans, Non-Binary, Non-Conforming


Question:  What change do you envision will have an impact on your community?

Contributor: Youth Programs Manager, La’Shante Grigsby