What issues do we advocate for?

1) Improved family and medical leave policies in Massachusetts. The lack of paid family and medical leave in MA jeopardizes the health and security of families and disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color, who are often the sole or primary caretaker.
2) Ending the criminalization of girls of color. Improved policies and awareness at the city and state levels to address the over-criminalization of young women and girls of color that results in academic underachievement and social marginalization, often incarceration.

State-level Advocacy Priority Legislation

1. An Act Establishing a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program S.1048/H.2172
Passed through the Massachusetts Legislature on June 21, 2018
Lead Sponsors: Senator Spilka and Representative Gordon
Coalition: Raise Up Massachusetts
This bill establishes employee rights to family medical leave or temporary disability leave in the event of the following: the birth of a child of the employee, the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, or the necessity of an employee to care for a family member that has been diagnosed with a serious health condition for a period of time. Further, the bill safeguards the position, compensation, status, and benefits of the employee upon return from leave so long as ample notice to the employer is given. The bill would especially improve economic security for low-income women and women of color.

2. An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform S.2371
Signed into law on April 13, 2018
Lead Sponsors: Senators Spilka, Boncore, Chang-Diaz, Jehlen and Representatives Khan,
Carvalho, Dykema, Vega, Malia, Cahill, Decker, Lewis
Coalition: MA Coalition for Juvenile Justice Reform
This bill was signed into law in April 2018! The bill touches on nearly every part of the criminal justice system, with an aim of reducing number of people entering it or getting unnecessarily and unfairly stuck in the system. YW Boston supports Citizens for Juvenile Justice’s coalition in advocating for juvenile justice reforms such as, allowing young people to be diverted from court before the creation of a record, excluding elementary school age children (those under 12) from the legal system altogether, reducing school-based arrests, and creating a Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board.

3. FY19 Budget Request: Amendment to Line Item 4590-1507 for Youth At-Risk Grants
Lead sponsors: Rep. Decker
Coalition: Alliance of YWCAs of Massachusetts
In 2010, the YWCAs ceased receiving state funding. In contrast, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs enjoy an annual earmark of over $1,000,000 each. YWCAs in Massachusetts are lobbying legislators to amend the budget item 4590-1507 by inserting the following: “provided further, that the Department of Public Health shall award not less than $450,000 to members of the Alliance of YWCAs of Massachusetts and by deleting the figure of 3,000,000 and inserting in place thereof the following: 3,450,000”. This funding will support gender-specific violence prevention and leadership development programs for girls and young women at the 9 YWCA organizations across the Commonwealth.

City-level Advocacy

1. Project Focus: Girls of Color Policy Recommendations
Office of City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, National Black Women’s Justice Institute
Since August 2017, YW Boston has supported City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s initiative to address disproportionate discipline actions toward girls of color in order to create safe and supportive learning environments for girls of color in Boston’s elementary and secondary schools. Compiling student testimony and data, Pressley’s office and the NBWJI released ten policy recommendations in March 2018. YW Boston is committed to partnering with Councilor Pressley’s office, students, schools and other community stakeholders to advocate for the long-term implementation of the recommendations in Boston Public Schools.

What does our advocacy work look like?

Legislative advocacy

Legislative advocacy refers to efforts to influence legislation, or official laws. We do this through contacting our legislators – city councilors, state legislators, and federal legislators – to share our views on an issue and ask them to vote a specific way on a bill. We used legislative advocacy to help get Bill S.2119 passed in Massachusetts, an Act to Establish Pay Equity. 

Policy decisions and implementation

Policies are rules that inform and regulate how an entity operates. When a law is passed, it is often up to the departments, offices, and organizations that are affected to come up with their own policies to implement the law. Influencing these policies can be just as important as influencing laws. In addition to carrying out laws, organizations also use policies to determine how to spend money, how to prioritize work, and how to address concerning issues. As a nonprofit, we can urge organizations to create policies that will promote equity in all of these areas. We used policy decision advocacy when we urged the City of Boston to invest more in the availability of mental health services


When several groups share a common goal, they can form a coalition to work together to have that goal met. An advocacy coalition may focus on addressing legal, political, or social issues. We used the method of joining a coalition when we joined with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and other supporters of pay equity. 

Mobilization of public support and action 

Mobilizing public support and action includes providing information to our network about legislation, policies, or social or political movements related to our mission, and then providing information about how people can take action. This may include asking people to contact their legislator, participate in a rally, or share information on social media about the importance of an issue. We used mobilization of public support when inviting our networks to participate in the Boston Women’s March.