About YWP

The Young Women's Project builds the leadership and power of young people so that they can transform DC institutions to expand rights and opportunities for DC youth. YWP programs guide youth through a process of personal transformation so they can become leaders in their peer groups, schools, families, and communities who are able to analyze problems, identify solutions, and advocate for change.

Since 1994, YWP has developed thousands of youth leaders and has worked in partnership with a number of DC agencies to develop policy and implement programs in sexual health education and services, foster care rights and opportunities, youth employment, and other issues. Founded by and for young women in 1992, and operating as a volunteer collective during its first 2 years, YWP has grown to a full time adult staff of six, 200 youth staff, and a budget of $650,000.

YWP is a nationally recognized leader in youth development and civic engagement with a 21-year track record of rigorous, successful, outcomes-based programming and training, youth leadership development, policy development, and institutional change successes. YWP has trained more than 750 youth as staff members, 1,500 youth as peer educators and leaders in DC Public Schools, and more than 300 foster care youth leaders. 

Recent Accomplishments:

  1. Led the development and passage of new DC State Learning Standards for Health Education (Approved April 20, 2016 for a 2016-17 school year implementation), working closely with the State Board of Education, DC Public Schools (DCPS), and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Specifying concepts and skills that students need to know and do, from pre-K through 12th grade, standards are used to develop curriculum and professional development, inform teacher lesson plans and instruction, and monitor student progress. Driven by the urgent health needs of DC children and youth and shaped by the instructional needs of public school teachers, these new standards are likely to be the most comprehensive, progressive, skills-based, and needs responsive in the country.  Now we are working to support and fund health standards implementation.
  2. Hired, trained and managed 46 youth staff and 170 youth health educators from DC public and charter high schools in all wards. Youth staff presented 35 testimonies, drafted health education standards with SBOE, secured funding to expand youth stipends, and trained 150 teachers. YWP provided more than 100 hours of youth development, work force readiness, advocacy, and issue-focused training to more than 150 youth and placed 25 youth on government and community based working groups, committees, and councils.   
  3. The Youth Health Educator Program (YHEP) has trained and managed more than 200 youth educators in 12 DC Public and 3 Public Charter high schools who work in partnership with DC Public Schools and the Department of Health (DOH) to improve sexual health outcomes for DC youth through peer education, condom distribution, and by expanding sexual health education. Since September 2015, YWP employed 207 youth who distribute 86,000 condoms (male, female, and flavored), conducted 24,000 educational interventions, and made more than 1,000 individual clinic referrals.
  4. From 2014-2016, built the self-advocacy, workforce readiness, and academic capacity of 246 YWP youth staff and educators with the following results: 100% of college seniors were accepted into college, 98% of seniors graduated, 55% have above a 3.0 GPA, 50% are engaged in college prep services, 100% of seniors who applied to college were accepted, 80% were engaged in after school activities. None of our youth are truant. None reported pregnancies. All completed their work readiness training and assignments.

Lifetime  Accomplishments:

  • Led the development and passage of the Youth Rights and Responsibilities Amendment Act of 2012, signed into law on January 22,2013, which provides more than 40 rights in education, privacy, health, transportation, and other issues to DC foster youth.  Include link
  • Led the development and passage of the Foster Youth Transit Subsidy which will extend the $30 DCPS monthly student transportation card to 400 foster youth ages 19 and 20 starting October 1, 2013;  Include link
  • Led the development and passage of internal CFSA policies that established a $1,464 a year clothing voucher system for youth in care, a $100 monthly mandatory allowance, and an increase the independent living stipend for youth in care starting November 2013. Include link
  • Successfully advocated for an expansion of the DCPS condom availability policy in 2011, to include youth condom distributors and the expansion of WRAP-MC to include youth leaders and trainers; Include link
  • In 2010 and 2011, released two Youth Assessment Report Cards for Community Based Sexual Health Programs. Developed and conducted by YWP youth staff in partnership with the DC Council’s Committee on Health, this research assessed the scope, depth, and youth-involvement of youth-focused sexual health programming in the District. Include link for report cards
  • Conducted the DC Teen Clinic Assessment which collected data from 34 DC community-based clinics.  Using this data to advocate for changes, PHASE staff is working with Unity Health Care Clinics to improve teen outreach and communication through the call center and web site. Include link
  • Developed high school sexual health curricula and training of trainers. Trained more than 130 health teachers and provided more than 80 hours of classroom based education to 270 students at Cardozo and Wilson Senior High Schools (2008) and Ceasar Chavez Public Charter (2009).
  • Organized Yes Youth Can: Confronting the Challenges of Aging Out (January 22, 2009), a youth-led hearing held by the Committee on Human Service chair CM Tommy Wells. Featuring more than 25 witnesses, the hearing examined the experiences and challenges of older youth in education, employment, and emancipation. “I’d like to acknowledge the Young Women's Project  and how effective they are at having youth take part in their government and to really make changes,” said Chairman Tommy Wells.  “ It’s certainly a model.  I don’t think we’ve had a better hearing.” Include link
  • Led the development and passage of the DCPS Student Sexual Harassment Policy (July 2002): After two years of research, surveys, building support among teen women – SCSS wrote and passed a DCPS Sexual Harassment Policy 7.2002  Include link and took the lead on implementation.  Sexual Harassment Campaign (SHC) staff created a user-friendly version of the policy which was distributed to all DCPS teachers and administration during September 2002 orientations. SHC youth and adult staff worked together to train 1,500 students in three schools, train 50 go-to staff and 200 student leaders from 12 DC public high schools and 9 middle schools (October 2003), and developed The Harassment Education Package (HEP) which provides tools (lesson plans, recruitment advice, evaluation tools, policy information) to go-to teachers and students so that they can conduct sexual harassment training and track policy implementation. YWP staff facilitated the DCPS Sexual Harassment Taskforce, including youth-serving non-profits, the Office for Civil Rights, the DC PTA and officials from the Superintendent’s Office – charged with implementing the policy. Include link
  • Released two youth-created Handbooks, Taking Matters into Your Own Hands (March 2009) and How to Deal with the System: Important Information that Will Help You (June 2006). Both publications provide more than 200 pages of essential information on rights, regulations, and how to navigate the system – including articles, resource pieces, and personal stories on the court system, social workers, monitors, group homes, judges, educational and vocational opportunities, laws, and more. The Handbooks were distributed – via paper, email, and website – to 1000s of youth in care, CFSA staff, GALS, child advocacy groups, families, and others. Include link\
  • In 2001, working with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, and Families – we helped develop and advocate for the passage of regulations for group homes (Chapter 24) and independent living program contractors (Chapter 26). These regulations provided first ever guidelines for congregate care conduct and monitoring, increased the quality of care for youth residents, and established youth rights in several key areas. Since 2003, YWP has monitored the quality of services in group homes and ILPs through surveys, workshops, and individual youth testimonials and report progress to City Council as part of the annual CFSA oversight hearing.
  • Trained more than 500 teens in group homes and ILPs with 5-15 hours per participant of training that focused on Group Home Rights and Navigation Trainings including: 1) increasing life, self-advocacy, and leadership skills that will help teens build independence and self-reliance, take on responsibility, and transition out of foster care and  2) Providing skills and information they need to stand up for their rights, navigate systems, monitor regulation implementation, and take advantage of opportunities
  • Summer Leadership Institutes (SLIs) brought together more than 200 foster youth and adult caregivers each summer from 2004-2010 for skills building and dialogue on critical issues. Leadership Institutes provide a teen-led forum for foster youth and adult caregivers and advocates to receive training and information, network, share experience, speak out on issues, and solve problems in the system. The event typically features 8-12 workshops organized into three tracks: Learning and Sharing, System Resources, and Dialogue.
  • Released three teen directed and created video PSAs on the realities of youth aging out –one focusing on permanence, one on safety net services, and one on education. All capture the harrowing experiences of teens preparing to age out of the foster care system (August 2010). Include PSA links