Donte Hilliard, YWCA USA
YWCA USA in partnership with Centene Corporation, has undertaken a three-year project to research, develop, and pilot a new program with a unique approach to addressing long-term wellness outcomes, Young Women Choosing Action. The project is supported by funding from the Centene Foundation.
In the first year, the project has completed the development of a research-based curriculum for Young Women Choosing Action, which is designed to support teen girls/young women between the ages of 13 and 19 in developing decision-making and relationship-building skills that will support their long-term health and wellness. While the program is intended to benefit all teen girls, it is specifically designed to address the higher rates of trauma and more limited resources for healthy development that low-income and young women of color are likely to face. The program will help young women learn and practice skills that support personal empowerment, strong relationships, and greater community engagement, all within an intersectional leadership development framework. The 12-week program, designed with continuous review and input from an independent evaluator and a clinical specialist, provides tools to expand physical and emotional responses to trauma, cultivate personal well-being practices, and build capacity as leaders.
Four YWCA local associations have been selected and trained to pilot the Young Women Choosing Action program: YWCA Brooklyn, YWCA Northwest Louisiana, YWCA Northwest Ohio, and YWCA Watsonville. Over the next 24 months, this sample set of associations will provide YWCA USA the opportunity to evaluate the program in urban and rural settings as well as within organizations of various budget size and geography. After the pilots are completed in spring 2020, YWCA USA will revise the curriculum based on the final evaluation report and will make the program available nationally, across our YWCA network.
At YWCA USA’s annual national convening in June, Cynthia Brinkley, Chief Administration and Markets Officer for Centene Corporation, met with the executive directors of the four local YWCA associations which will pilot the program. Brinkley remarked: “Centene is honored to partner with the YWCA, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation. This partnership demonstrates Centene’s purpose of improving the health of communities, one person at a time, and supports the YWCA mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities through action. I look forward to seeing the impact we can create together for the young women who participate and their communities.”
YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Y. Castillo, sharing a similar sentiment, said: “YWCA USA is thrilled to partner with Centene on this new young women’s leadership program. This partnership is indicative of Centene’s commitment to improving the health and wellness of communities across the country, and it fully supports YWCA’s vital mission. At YWCA, we know that too often, not only are such programs not available to communities of color, but when they are, they are inadequate or overlook the unique realities faced by low-income young women and young women of color. YWCA’s 160-year history has shown us that being intersectional, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive are crucial to serving and empowering women and girls. I am excited to see the impact our new program will have, and I look forward to expanding its reach to all the communities we serve.”
About YWCA USA
YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families.
YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for 160 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls. Learn more at www.ywca.org.