Economic independence and providing access to a living hourly wage is fundamental to the ability of women and girls – cisgender, transgender and gender non-conforming – to remove themselves from street-based economies that result in incarceration, involve exploitation and expose them to violence. Across our programs and organization, YWFC aims to support formerly-incarcerated, systems-involved women and girls in escaping cycles of poverty, violence, exploitation and incarceration through building self-determination, economic independence and transformative leadership. The ultimate goal is to place those most impacted by these cycles in leadership positions within the social justice field towards their long-term economic security and influence.

YWFC offers four levels of personal transformational, professional development and leadership experience: Emerging, Developing, Proficiency and Mastery. At each level, participants identify individual goals specific to the outcomes necessary for them to successfully complete that level. The process is not linear and participants often move back and forth between levels. YWFC pays a living wage at every level of participation.

Across YWFC’s four levels of leadership development are specific benchmarks of personal transformation, critical analysis, community organizing, hard and soft employment skills and economic self-sufficiency.

Level 1 – Emerging Leadership: Prioritizes stabilization, safety, recovery, consistent participation, self-confidence, resources for basic needs and exposure to a different future.

Level 2 – Developing Leadership: Prioritizes consciousness raising and learning the context for and articulating one’s own experience, healing and removing internal barriers to success, increasing responsibility and consistency in community organizing roles and access to intensive, paid internships.

Level 3 – Proficient Leadership: Prioritizes deepening practice, self-knowledge and discipline, moving into fellowships and junior staff roles, identification and training towards long-term employment and leadership.

Level 4 – Mastering Leadership: Prioritizes support for moving people into staff positions and skills building towards higher positions of leadership within YWFC and partner organizations, including community organizing, campaign development and implementation, coalition work and public-community partnerships, facilitation, program design and implementation, supervision, public speaking, advocacy, evaluation and budgeting.

After serving at YWFC, staff move out of the organization and provide leadership in other diverse social justice organizations, socially-minded businesses and elected offices or government agencies. Former interns and staff are part of a YWFC sister/siblinghood and continue to support and collaborate with one another on personal, professional and leadership goals and ambitions.