YW Boston is igniting young leaders across the city through the F.Y.R.E. Initiative
Note: Throughout this article, we use the terms “womxn” and “gxrl” as terms to include anyone, including transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, polygender, and gender non-conforming people, whose key gender identity, experience, and internal perception on the spectrum of gender is woman or girl.
Prioritizing young womxn and gxrls is a crucial imperative to achieving greater equity in Boston. We know that women, particularly women of color, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March of last year 2.3 million women have left the labor force, a number much larger than the 1.8 million men who left in the same amount of time. During the pandemic, it has been widely reported that teenagers are experiencing increased loneliness and anxiety, leading to a 31% increase in mental health visits to emergency rooms. As an organization committed to eliminating racism and empowering women, YW Boston is working to address barriers faced by womxn and gxrls. Creating an intergenerational pipeline of leaders that are prepared to champion diversity and inclusion is part of our approach to ensuring sustainable commitment to equity throughout Greater Boston and beyond. Over the last year and a half, our F.Y.R.E. Initiative has ignited cohorts of young leaders across the city. Learn more about the accomplishments of our young igniters below.
F.Y.R.E. participants reported being two times more likely to vote.
What is the F.Y.R.E. Initiative?
With the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, launched in the Fall of 2019, YW Boston facilitators conduct a leadership development series for girls grades 6th through 9th. The series brings together social justice education, positive identity development, and civic engagement, culminating in a group civics project. This model takes place in schools or Out of School Time programs, and it is developed to operate in a “girls’ group” structure rather than a traditional classroom structure. Experiential learning opportunities and social-emotional learning are core components of the F.Y.R.E. Initiative. With most K-12 schools and extracurricular programs in the Boston area operating either fully or partially virtual, educators are trying to determine how to best connect with students. Fortunately, staff from YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative developed new ways to connect with their middle school participants.
F.Y.R.E. participants reported possessing three times more skills to be politically informed.
What are the F.Y.R.E. Initiative core values?
- Youth Power
- Political Education
F.Y.R.E. participants reported being two times more interested in how government works.
What can F.Y.R.E. igniters accomplish?
As part of the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, participants are encouraged to utilize critical thinking to assess racial and gender inequities in the City of Boston. During the program, gxrls learn about historical and current racial and gender equity movements. In turn, igniters increase their capacity to engage in advocacy, policy change, and to lead others to act on issues important to them. Gxrls will build a sense of self, empowerment, and resilience by learning how to control their lives and make an impact in their community. Participants also identify community needs and assets to later build problem-solving skills and identify solutions to these needs. During the program, participants will come to understand how identities intersect and are impacted by systems of power. Utilizing these acquired learnings and skills, they will work across differences to resolve broader institutional issues within their schools or communities.
89% of gxrls demonstrated gains in their social-emotional learning after engaging with the F.Y.R.E. Initiative.
Do you believe the F.Y.R.E. Initiative would be a good addition to your school? Find out more about the program by contacting TiElla Grimes, F.Y.R.E. Initiative Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative
With the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, launched in the Fall of 2019, YW Boston facilitators conduct a 12-15-week leadership development series for girls grades 6th through 9th. The series brings together social justice education, positive identity development, and civic engagement, culminating in small group civics projects. This model takes place in schools or Out of School Time programs, and it is developed to operate in a “girls group” structure rather than a traditional classroom structure. Core to the program is an effort to provide experiential learning opportunities and dialogue to build understanding and increase social-emotional learning.