YWFC provides a leadership pipeline for systems-impacted girls, women and transgender, gender non-conforming (TGNC) people toward their decarceration and decriminalization both statewide and across four sites (Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Clara County & Los Angeles).

Through personal transformation and building the individual capacity and collective power of those most impacted by cycles of poverty, exploitation, violence and incarceration, YWFC is building a groundswell of leaders with the experience, critical consciousness, skills and passion to advocate for comprehensive systems transformation, policy reforms, and alternatives to criminalization and incarceration. Through YWFC’s member-based coalition, the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition (SWFC), YWFC is incubating a vehicle for expanded leadership development and base building across twelve sites in California toward a ten-year campaign – Freedom 2030.

YWFC reflects a belief that people most impacted by incarceration and systems are the ones who can and must lead effective change – are the experts in their own lives. Building individual self-determination is central to the ability to lead. Leading builds confidence in an ability to change our own lives and transform ourselves.

Levels of Leadership Development:

These levels of leadership include benchmarks that people reach to move onto developing another set of skills. Though these levels build upon one another, our members do not go through them in a linear way. Often, people go through cycles of the different levels and cycle back to deepen their skills or regain stability or fortify their self-confidence. The ultimate goal is for all who become part of YWFC to build these skills and engage in powerful leadership and organizing towards making the changes they want in their own lives and communities and in shifting the conditions that have harmed them towards those that support well-being, safety, self-determination and justice. 

Pathways to Leadership

Meet young Women where they are At (Level 1):

For more information on these programs, see the Healing & Self-Determinationarea of work.

We meet with women on the streets, in detention facilities and by offering programs at the Center designed to engage women where they are at in their lives, providing resources and support to help them navigate the systems they are impacted by, space to develop their power and voice, and a framework for political education; examining the world through the context of their lives.


Leadership and Economic Opportunities (Level 2):

YWFC’s Internship programs provide 300 hours of well-paid training for women and girls interested in working with YWFC in a cohort model.  That provides an opportunity for participants to develop a sense of sister/siblinghood and creates opportunities for them to share and learn. During the Internship, participants begin to gain a deeper introduction to the work and are trained as Community Organizers, advocates and researchers. The transformative programs provide hard and soft employment skills, leadership development training, critical thinking, political education, public speaking, outreach, advocacy training, and training in social media and communications. This has traditionally been called the Sisters/Siblings on the Rise Program but now takes other forms as well.


Advanced Leadership (Level 3):

Hiring and training the women we work with to lead programs, organize in their neighborhoods, communities and peer networks, conduct participatory research, expand YWFC membership base, and participate in campaigns and advocacy.


Leadership Pathways (Fellowship Program – Level 4)

Leadership Pathways is a 2-year fellowship program for girls, women and TGNC people that want to continue the work. They are supported with advance training, political education, mentorship, are paid a living wage and develop and lead a project.

The base building, policy and advocacy work is held by YWFC with folks at all leadership levels working on various components of the projects.