Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) is a seven-year programmatic response and broad cross-sector collaboration aimed to empower and affirm young women of color ages 12-24. Through research collaborative grantmaking and advocacy, YWI-Dallas and YWI-Houston is amplifying the collective power of young women to identify and address core issues, and create solutions toward meaningful systemic change.

If you are interested in participating in the Young Women’s Initiative, please contact our Grants Team at

The Young Women’s Advisory Council was featured on Global Mosaic
Young Women Rising: Could Empowering Girls Transform the World

Program Structure & Objectives

The program strives to ensure all young women – particularly young women of color – lead, prosper economically, and live safe and healthy lives. This cross-sector effort empowers and affirms young women by engaging current and new community partners, our donor community, service agencies and the public sector through leadership development programming, advocacy efforts, speaking opportunities, community engagement and grantmaking. The key objectives identified for the YWAC are:

  • Catalyze significant funding and resources toward improving the lives of young women by engaging funders who share our commitments to young women and their future.
  • Build cross sector coalitions and partnerships to advance equity for young women.
  • Amplify the voices of young women in policy decisions, starting locally and moving nationally through a strong network of community partners and government officials driving towards these shared values.

Listening Sessions

The formative work of the Young Women’s Initiative was asking what young women of color in Dallas actually wanted and needed. In 2018, Texas Women’s Foundation partnered with Faith in Texas, The Concilio and North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens to conduct listening sessions with 219 young women of color  between the ages of 16 and 24.

The listening sessions uncovered the challenges faced by young women of color in Dallas. Issues ranged from negative media stereotypes to lack of educational opportunities to living in unsafe neighborhoods.

Young Women’s Advisory Council

The Young Women’s Advisory Council (YWAC) is at the core of the Young Women’s Initiative. The YWAC is currently comprised of young women of color who self-nominate and are selected to participate in a cohort.

The 2nd cohort of the Young Women’s Initiative-Dallas includes:

Amy Alvarez Christian Jefferson
Ivis Andrade Kiaya Johnson
Luz Barron Maria Katsulos
Kierra Byrd Aysha Khan
Misaki Collins Maria Lopez
Andrea Devora Kimberly “Kim” Martinez
Da’Shayla Foard Victoria Morales
Ashley Gallegos Mia Muric
Amairani Gomez Hernandez Gloria Okereke
DayJus Hill Alejandra “Ale” Oliva
Sommer Iqbal Esmeralda Valadez

YWI – Dallas Blueprint

The Blueprint provides detailed information on the YWAC program, structure and key objectives to shift local policies and practices to support young women of color to move from surviving to thriving.

You can read the Blueprint HERE.


The Year One Evaluation, conducted by Southern Methodist University Center on Research and Evaluation, identified more than 40 emerging individual and collective benefits to the Fellows from their participation in the program. The Year Two evaluation will continue to address the individual and collective benefits to young women of color participating in YWI‐Dallas and address the micro‐evaluation of the outcomes resulting from the YWAC’s advocacy efforts in their community.

Fellows are active participants in the evaluation process and serve as evaluators‐in‐training on the micro‐evaluation component.

The Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) at the Southern Methodist University is conducting a participatory, developmental, and formative multi-year evaluation using mixed-methodologies of the Texas Women’s Foundation Dallas Young Women’s Initiative (Dallas YWI) Program. A key part of this evaluation is the focus on a youth-oriented participatory action research approach to meaningfully engage the young women. The lived experiences of the young women regarding issues being pursued locally and their contributions to social change shape the narrative and program goals. Through this work, CORE has reported numerous individual and collective benefits to the young women of color participating in the program and how their advocacy around local and national issues has led to better outcomes for other young women of color in our community.

Click below to review the Executive Summaries from each year.

Year One Evaluation Executive Summary

Year Two Evaluation Executive Summary

Year Three Evaluation Executive Summary


BestSelf is a one-day program that brings girls, ages 11-16, and their educators and allies, together for a day of empowerment, teaching leadership skills, healthy conflict resolution and more, so these girls can embrace and become their “best selves.” The Young Women Advisory Council Fellows serve as content experts for the workshops provided to the 400+ attendees.

Workshops include:

  • Examining self esteem/insecurities; body image and changes
  • Learning how to advocate for yourself and your community
  • How to represent yourself in all environments
  • Core functions of a healthy relations – with friends, parents and partners


YWAC members were able to learn about grantmaking after their key objectives and focus areas were established. They were taught about philanthropy and the role it has in creating social change. They narrowed their priorities and researched local organizations that aligned with the five issues areas identified that specifically impacted women of color.

Young Women’s Advisory Council

Inquiries about micro grants from the Young Women’s Advisory Council can be directed to

These applications are due on May 27, 2021.

2020 Granting
$25,000 was awarded by the YWAC Fellows to the following organizations:

Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas –Dallas $5,000

This grant supports the Latinas in Progress program, which has focused on first‐generation Latina students

Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum $4,000

This grant supports a reading room, community meeting space and place for elementary students to learn and practice debate skills.

LULAC National Educational Service Centers Inc. $3,000

This grant will fund mentoring, visits to museums and learning activities for young women interested in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Promise House Inc. $5,000

This grant will pay for hygiene products, snacks and supplies for crafts and activities at the center.

Harmony Community Development Corporation $3,000

This grant will support the Peer Pressure, Conflict Resolution session of Harmony’s Girls Kickback events.

Parkland Foundation $5,000

This grant will fund the development and design of a multicultural, multilingual brochure with medically‐accurate information about physical development and menstrual hygiene.

Young Women's Initiative

The Young Women’s Initiative was born out of a national collaborative movement to advance young women of color, ensuring that these economically and socially vulnerable women and girls can thrive. Eight women’s foundations across the national have formed the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives. It is the first collaborative of its kind, using its collective ability to galvanize and invest resources to strengthen the safety, health and economic prosperity of young women in Texas and across the country.


When you give to Texas Women’s Foundation, you are directly contributing to the economic stability and future of Texas.