Empowered Women Change the World

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Empowered Women Change the World

As my first month as interim CEO comes to a close, I am filled with excitement for the future of our work and for the resilient women we serve each day. The most rewarding part so far has been witnessing the profound commitment of YWCA USA staff to move our Strategic Business Plan forward and hearing firsthand from our network about the importance of our mission.

Empowered Women Change the World. This message is more than our theme for Women’s History Month — it is the mantra of our collective YWCA movement. It is why I am in the role that I am in. I am who am I because of the empowered women who came before me. Early on in my career with YWCA, it was empowered women like Gloria Lau, our new interim Chief Strategy Officer, who helped me look outside the box, believed in my potential, and motivated me to develop my abilities. She also encouraged me to be brave, courageous, and to be myself so that I might effectively lead. Without her tutelage, I may not have understood the power of community, transparency, and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who believe in and uplift you.

At YWCA, we’ve been empowering women to change the world since our inception in 1858. From offering child care services to #SecretSuperheroMoms like Martha, Tali, and Chelena to emergency shelters to job training programs, we have been – and continue to be – a community of support. This resilient support system empowers millions of women as they, in turn, empower their families, communities, and the world.

Throughout the month of March and beyond, we encourage you to follow along on social media and engage with us as we celebrate the achievements of empowered women who have indeed changed the world. In our celebration of herstory, we are highlighting the wins as well as the system barriers that have – and still – impact women across dimensions such as race, class, gender identity, nationality, and so on. Inside this month’s newsletter, you will find updates on monumental legislative actions, including the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, among other procedural actions for which YWCA advocates strongly on behalf of the women, girls, and people of color we serve every day.

Forging a world of equity may not be easy, but our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all is well worth it. On the heels of the increased violence and tragic losses that continue to impact AAPI, Black, and Brown communities, I am reinvigorated to continue our momentum and fired up for the strides we will take in the coming months to make our mission a reality every day, starting with our annual Stand Against Racism initiative. I encourage you to stay connected and committed to our mission as we embark on a new chapter to center our racial justice work under our new Strategic Business Plan.

Yours in the mission,

Elisha Rhodes, Interim CEO, YWCA USA

With Under 50 Days to Go: Congress Delivers Victories for Women & Families

Just in time for Women’s History Month, Congress has taken monumental legislative actions that impact the communities we serve every day. Today, the American Rescue Plan is in effect and will provide relief in the form of emergency grants, including $180 million for Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) recipients, $39 billion for child care relief, increased coverage of unemployment costs for nonprofits, and more. The House also passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1620) that will strengthen services for survivors and their children; the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fix bill (H.R. 1652) to sustain the Crime Victims Fund, which supports our programs and provides direct compensation to survivors; and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which includes provisions to prohibit no-knock warrants in drug cases, ban chokeholds, creates a national use of force standard, and increases the Justice Department’s authority to prosecute officer misconduct.

Although we are pleased with these victories, we urge you to take action on issues that matter to you! The work does not end here, as all eyes are now on the Senate for the passage of VAWA and the VOCA Fix. While we support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, we urge Senators to further enhance the bill’s context and expand the foundation to address the deep, critical changes needed in law enforcement. Visit our Action Center for resources and tips on how to make your voice heard on key issues that impact women, girls, and people of color.


#StopAsianHate: YWCA Stands in Solidarity with AAPI Communities

At YWCA, we are unwavering in our demand for justice and in our commitment to creating a world in which all women, girls, and people of color can thrive. We are devastated by the ongoing violence against Asian Americans that has ravaged our country, and we send our condolences to the lives lost in Georgia last week. Additionally, the mass shooting in Colorado reminded us of the horrors of hate that often feed into gun violence. Two times in one week, our nation was ravaged by mass shootings, which make it clear that the tragic incidents of gun violence and hateful domestic terrorism have plagued our country for far too long.

These events have invigorated YWCA’s commitment to address the structural inequality and racism across all communities of color, deepening our work to advocate for equity and justice. All Americans, especially people of color, should feel safe in spas, grocery stores, schools, churches, and in their own communities. We have and will continue to do this work, demanding a safe world of equity and human decency until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, and until justice just is.


Women’s History Month: Empowered Women Change the World

Empowered Women Change the World. This message is more than our March theme for Women’s History Month — it is the mantra of our collective YWCA movement. Since 1858, we have dedicated our mission to empowering women. From child care centers to emergency shelters to job training programs, we have been – and continue to be – a community of support, empowering millions of women as they, in turn, empower their families, communities, and the world.

Throughout the month, we are giving a nod to the achievements of women who impact the world, uplifting the everyday “sheroes,” and centering women who wear invisible capes by taking on virtual schooling to working on the front lines of the pandemic response to hold our families and communities together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit our Empowered Women Change the World landing page for a collection of notable women, YWCA sheroes, and the young women and girls of tomorrow. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to check out some of the #EmpoweredWomen we have highlighted already.


Empowered Women Change The World

Celebrating International Women’s Day with the Archewell Foundation

As a part of their push for women to be recognized and supported as wage earners, educators, carers, and leaders in their communities; the Archewell Foundation partnered with YWCA USA on International Women’s Day to generate support for our COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Community Resiliency Fund as a part of their priority to support mothers and families hit hardest by the pandemic.

YWCA is on the front lines of COVID-19 response and recovery, providing essential services such as safe and sterile testing sites, child care, meals to children and families in need, and support and housing for survivors of domestic violence, seniors, and chronically homeless women. We are grateful to partners like the Archewell Foundation and everyone who donated on International Women’s Day who have made it easier for us to continue supporting girls, empowering women, and uplifting families during the COVID-19 pandemic.



At YWCA, we take a Stand Against Racism every day by raising awareness of the impact of institutional and structural racism and by building community among those who work for racial justice.

During this year’s campaign – April 22 – 25, 2021, – we invite you to explore how From Declarations to Change: Addressing Racism as a Public Health Crisis can advance the work of justice in your community and empower people of color. Structural racism plays a large role in determining the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age. These factors affect people’s access to quality housing, education, food, transportation, political power, and other social determinants of health. Understanding and addressing systemic racism from this public health perspective is crucial to eliminating racial and ethnic inequities and to improving opportunity and well-being across communities. Take our pledge to Stand Against Racism and gain access to resources for this year’s campaign toolkit by registering here.

Our collective efforts can root out injustice, transform institutions, and create a world that sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.


Stand Against Racism Logo

YWCA Spotlights: YWCA Evanston/North Shore

This month, we’re spotlighting YWCA Evanston/North Shore and their work empowering women, uplifting girls, and supporting mothers and their families. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, they have remained steadfast in their commitment to provide a vibrant array of programs that aid women who experience domestic violence and lack economic security while also addressing issues disproportionately impacting women of color.

Here is an overview of how YWCA Evanston/North Shore advances economic security for women and helps survivors thrive:

Visit the YWCA Evanston/North Shore website to learn more about the impactful work they are doing and how you can show support

New On the YWCA Blog

In our latest blog, We’re Joining Forces with Secret Deodorant to #RaiseItUp for Secret Superhero Moms, we outline the #SecretSuperheroMom campaign video series, which shares the true, heartfelt stories of three moms (Martha, Tali, and Chelena) who are holding their families and communities together during the pandemic. Secret Deodorant partnered with YWCA in making a $1 million pledge to help foster gender equity, which will provide childcare, workforce development, and other programs and services for more than 100,000 women and their families across the country. YWCA is grateful for this dynamic partnership and together, we will continue to #RaiseItUp for women everywhere.

For International Women’s Day, in YWCA Empowering Women Across the Globe, we highlight how World YWCA is fostering the global movement to mobilize the power of millions of women and girls to transform their lives and the world for the better. No movement would be complete without a cohort of future leaders, like Lucy Masiye, Vera Syrokvash, or Satoko Yamaguchi, whose incredible stories and journeys show us what is possible when we invest in uplifting girls and empowering women’s voices.

Read more about our work in our latest blog posts.


Upcoming Events and Important Date

  • March 1-31 – Women’s History Month
  • April 22-25Stand Against Racism
  • March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility
  • April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • April: Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • April: National Minority Health Month
  • April 6-11: National Public Health Week
  • April 6: Sexual Assault Awareness Day of Action
  • April 6-8: Leadership Academy Annual Event
  • April 11: Anniversary of Civil Rights Act
  • April 11-17: Black Maternal Health Week
  • April 17: World Health Day
  • April 22: Stand Against Racism Virtual Event


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