Jul 19, 2017

Young Women's Initiative Launch

YWI Launch
YWI Launch

Over the past year, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation has been more intentional about increasing our understanding of the unique economic barriers facing youth living in DC.  On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, we publicly launched the Young Women’s Initiative, a city-wide effort to improve life outcomes and increase opportunities for young women, girls, transgender women, and gender non-conforming youth of color between the ages 12 to 24.

The launch was a success as it brought together 250 community members who are interested in helping to make lasting change for women and girls of color in the DC metro area. We are grateful that Mayor HyeSook Chung, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services in DC and a longtime friend of The Women’s Foundation, gave a special message that shared her excitement for this important work. This initiative is part of a nation-wide collective of Women’s Foundations who are working together to reduce systematic and institutional barriers to success and opportunity for young women so that they may reach their full potential.

The audience heard directly from a panel of seven bright participants of varying ethnicities, nationalities, ages, and backgrounds.  They shared tough aspects of their lives as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. This event enabled the wider community and the Women’s Foundation staff to have a deeper understanding of what the daily lives of young girls of color really looks like and what issues they personally find most important.

Some of the topics discussed were health, safety, education, employment/ workforce development and community/ housing. These brave girls shared stories with us about when they didn’t feel safe in spaces where they should such as simply walking down the street to get to school. They also provided solutions like having a mentor to look up to and confide in. They expressed wanting to be heard and gratitude for being given the platform to do so.

The launch was just the first step. There is so much that needs to be done for women and girls in our region. Following the launch, we have already begun accepting applicants for our Young Women’s Advisory Council. This 8-month fellowship will educate girls about local policy and youth advocacy. They will create a city-wide action plan for girls, build important networks and sharpen their leadership skills in a safe, nurturing environment.

The Young Women’s Initiative will provide meaningful leadership opportunities for young women and girls of color and influence public policy changes by producing original research. 


Apr 20, 2017

Towards A Thriving City

On April 13, 2017, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation released a report on how the proposed 2018 budget for the District of Columbia will affect girls, women and families.Towards A Thriving City: A Review of the Impact of the Proposed 2018 D.C. Budget on Girls, Women, and Families, is the first report of its kind for the Foundation.  Towards A Thriving City provides a detailed analysis of proposed expenditures that address the needs of low-income girls, women, and families in the District. The report focuses on critical areas such as housing, childcare, social supports, workforce development and violence.

Key points made in the report include:

  • The District of Columbia’s $13.8 billion 2018 budget is more than 3% higher than the previous year’s budget and includes modest increases funding for housing, early childcare, workforce development and emergency services.
  • The FY2018 budget protects 10,000 children from being cut off of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) due to time limits for families.
  • The FY2018 budget provides $3.3 million to improve the quality of childcare in the District but a joint report by DC Fiscal Policy Institute and DC Appleseed expresses that there is a need for $38 million in investments to cover provider costs and improve quality of care.
  • Although the DC City Council voted in favor of the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, the budget does not support the startup costs of implementing, maintaining and enforcing the Leave Act. As a result, it will not become a reality or be enforced.
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser launched REIGN: Empowering Young Women as Leaders. Seeded with a $1 million investment, the initiative aims to build community, confidence and leadership skills in young women of color in DC Public Schools.

To access the full report visit


Jan 24, 2017

Our 100 Days

We write this update on the heels of a remarkable display of women activating for change. We ask you to keep this energy alive by signing up to receive an action you can do every day for the first 100 days of the new Administration.  These are actions that add up to increasing opportunities for women and girls in the Washington, DC region and beyond.  Go to http://our100days.thewomensfoundation.org/  to see today’s action item and to sign up to receive actions for us to do together, every day.  

As we organize our communities to activate Our 100 Days, we hold steadfast to our mission to ensure that economically vulnerable women and girls in the Washington region have the resources they need to thrive.  This year, this includes launching a health component in order increase opportunities for the economic security of women and girls.

Our focus on this work begins with the facilitating of The District of Columbia Family Planning Initiative (DC-FP Initiative), a coalition of health care providers, funders, nonprofit organizations, youth empowerment and government partners.  Our collective mission is to reduce teen pregnancy rates and empower young women to take control of their reproductive health by improving the availability of quality contraceptive information, options and health services. 

You may be surprised to learn that the nation’s capital ranks in the top 15 cities with the highest rates of teen pregnancy for young women ages 15-19. In addition to having among the nation's highest teen pregnancy rates, the percentage of young women using an effective method of contraception is low.  Only 9% of high school girls report they or their partner used birth control before their last sexual experience.  When it comes to the use of female contraceptive methods, only 23% of high school females report that they use any of the following methods: oral contraceptives, IUD or implant, Depo-Provera, shot, patch or ring.  Despite having programs in place to reduce teen pregnancy, it is clear there is still room for growth especially when it comes to education and options counseling around the full range of contraceptive methods.  

Although there are programs in place to reduce teen pregnancy in our region, there is still room for growth when it comes to education and options counseling around the full range of contraceptive methods.  That’s why the DC-FP Initiative is important. Our efforts are designed to bring attention to ethnic and racial disparities to health care, address past cultural injustices within the healthcare system, and develop a program that is sensitive to the needs of the diverse population in DC. 

We anticipate that the new Administration will pull back the recent gains made in access to birth control for all women, and that this will have the most serious implications on low-income women in our community – making this work even more important today.  


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