Core Values 

  • Sisterhood/Siblinghood 
  • Social Justice 
  • Self-determination 
  • Spirituality 

Peer-run and youth-centered: Young women are fierce and powerful experts, leaders, and partners in all our work. We believe that formerly incarcerated cis and trans young women and girls of color, young women and girls living in poverty, young mothers, trans young men and boys, and gender-expansive and queer youth are best positioned to inform, guide, and manage the development of YWFC and to transform the world. 

Fighting oppression is central to a process of healing. We believe that, in order to heal, young women need to recognize, understand, and be prepared to dismantle the systems of oppression that affect our/ their lives and fight for social justice. Dignity, respect, and decolonization are at the center of what we do. 

Grounding in our cultural and spiritual beliefs, and traditions is essential to achieving a sense of self-determination. We expect, invite, and support young women in bringing their whole selves to their work at YWFC. We demand that young women have opportunities to develop emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in culturally appropriate environments. We ask people to center culture as a way to work on our sense of culture, self-esteem, and ancestorhood. 

The power of sisterhood/ siblinghood is limitless. We believe in young women supporting,  challenging, and nurturing each other to heal, thrive, and be advocates for change. We believe every young woman has the capacity to become a leader. 

Every young woman has the right to the support, access, and opportunities needed to achieve her potential. We believe that in order for young women who have experienced oppression,  violence, discrimination, and exploitation to step into our/ their power and have agency over our/ their own lives, they must be supported in safe environments to grow and heal. We believe that young women of color, young women living in poverty, young mothers, trans young men, gender-expansive young people, and queer young women are best positioned to inform, guide, and manage the development of YWFC and to transform the world.

Core Methodology 

  1. Leadership of those most impacted: We believe that those most impacted by injustice and other forms of intimate, community, and State violence are best positioned to envision, inform, and lead the work to reimagine and build the alternatives that create individual and collective safety, well-being, and justice.  
  2. Harm reduction: We do not save or fix people. We believe that people are whole and capable of making decisions and choices for their own lives. We meet people where they are at and provide support to reduce harm in their lives while building agency to make positive change.
  3. Economic self-sufficiency: We believe that for cis and trans women and girls, trans men and boys, and gender-expansive people to escape cycles of violence, exploitation, and  incarceration, we need economic opportunities and independence.  
  4. Decriminalization, Decarceration, and Abolition: We are committed to contributing to a world in which prisons, jails, probation, parole, monitoring, and family separation are not necessary and in which they are replaced with community-based alternatives.
  5. Gender justice and liberation: All of our work (programming, campaigns, decisionmaking, organizational structure, and culture) is grounded and informed by our own and  others’ experiences as cis and trans young women, trans young men, and gender-expansive young people. We challenge the patriarchal structures in our own lives and collectively as an organization – by deepening our collective analysis, operating in our own innate brilliance, and challenging patriarchal structures and systems that are  oppressive. 
  6. Education as a practice of freedom: Our lived experiences are a political framework for  examining and understanding the world – individually and collectively – through a political, social, economic, spiritual, and historical lens. Through this process we develop  our critical consciousness, build personal and collective power, and begin to heal from historical trauma. This framework is how we teach, learn, develop programs, and engage with each other.  
  7. People-centered and transformative leadership: We hold a deep recognition of a nonlinear personal transformative process that is ongoing and has the ability to transform along the way. “My own transformative journey is different from my sisters/siblings’” recognizes that the journey itself is core to how we want to transform. Transformative experiences, coupled with opportunities, support, and access to resources increase the self-determination of women, girls, trans men and boys, and gender-expansive people.  
  8. Transformative justice: We are committed to addressing incidences of intimate and  community harm in ways that transform the conditions that create violence and injustice and that do not leverage State violence against our people, families, and communities. 
  9. Healing-centered: We acknowledge our resilience and strength with which we have survived and work to transform the collective, intergenerational, and individual trauma that drives a lot of our choices, behavior, and harm we experience and do, and seek healing that gives us more choice to build safe, healthy, self-determined lives.

Impact

YWFC has had transformative impact for almost three decades – raising up movement and community leaders, changing the narrative about systems-impacted people, transforming programs, laws, legislation, public systems, and institutions to do less harm and be more responsive to our needs. The young people that have come up through YWFC have gone on to provide influential leadership in prison reform, violence prevention, women’s rights, and economic, racial, and gender justice. They have led as public officials, executive directors, foundation presidents, and movement and community leaders.

Our key impacts and accomplishments include:

On an annual basis:  

  • Annual 79%-85% reduction in recidivism among young women, trans young men, and gender-expansive youth who complete our program; 
  • Up to 90% of those who complete the program maintain employment and reach educational goals at 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow up; 

In the past year alone: 

  • Lead role in closing of SF Juvenile Hall with three SF Supervisors, reallocation of funds, and facilitation of community-driven process to identify community-based alternatives for prevention, diversion and re-entry;
  • Lead role in launch of Santa Clara County initiative to End the Incarceration of Girls; 
  • Launched Freedom 2030 – a ten-year political organizing, culture change and legislative campaign to end the criminalization and incarceration of cis and trans women, young women and girls, trans men, young women and boys, and gender-expansive youth and adults by 2030.

1. YWFC defines ‘formerly incarcerated and system involved’ as having experienced incarceration and/or life on the streets. Additionally, having been impacted by systems including ICE/Immigration, Foster care, Child Protective Services (CPS), Probation, Public Housing, Welfare, etcetera.

2. YWFC specifically supports and lifts up the voices, experiences and leadership of cis- and gender non-conforming girls and women and transgender youth, women and men. Throughout this document we use girls, women and TGNC people as short for these specific populations.